How Can Behavioral Therapy Help Opioid Disorders?

Behavioral health disorders, including mental health and addiction disorders, are among the most pressing problems facing our healthcare system today. Behavioral health issues come in many shapes and forms, but one of the most common examples is opioid use disorder. This involves someone misusing prescription opioid medications or taking illicit opioid medications without a prescription. According to the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapy, there are approximately 2 million people in the United States who suffer from opioid use disorder. In addition, approximately ten million people misused opioids in 2018.

It is critical to take a well-rounded approach to the treatment of opioid use disorder, and that may include behavioral therapy. But how can behavioral therapy help opioid disorders? There are several points to keep in mind.

What Does Opioid Use Disorder Look Like?

Opioid use disorder can look different in various situations, depending on the medications being used, how often they are taken, and other co-morbidities.

Some of the defining characteristics of opioid use disorder include:

  • Taking more opioids than prescribed or than were intended
  • Having extreme difficulty cutting back on opioid use, particularly when someone no longer needs a prescription
  • Spending an inordinate amount of time trying to track down and obtain these medications
  • Experiencing cravings or urges to use opioids
  • Disrupting personal and professional relationships in an effort to obtain and use opioids
  • Using opioid medications in high-risk situations, such as while driving or operating heavy machinery
  • The development of withdrawal symptoms when not taking opioids

Several symptoms could manifest during opioid withdrawal. A few examples include nausea, vomiting, anxiety, sweating, weakness, pain, feelings of restlessness, and general flu-like symptoms. Some people with opioid use disorder may only experience one or two of the symptoms above, while others may develop all of them. It is critical for everyone who suffers from opioid use disorder to seek the help of a medical professional.

What Are the Treatment Options?

According to information published by the CDC, more than 900,000 people have died of opioid use disorder since 1999. Multiple effective treatment options are available for people suffering from opioid use disorder, with the most effective treatment options combining counseling with medication and other forms of therapy. Three separate medications could be used to help people recover from opioid use disorder. They include naltrexone, buprenorphine, and methadone. These medications can help people deal with cravings and reduce the risk of death from an overdose.

At the same time, therapy has to be an integral part of the treatment plan. Addiction counseling can assist people to identify the root cause of why they want to use these drugs and how they can prevent the situation from happening in the future.

Other benefits of therapy sessions include:

  • Individuals will learn more about substance use disorder and its effect on the brain.
  • A professional therapist could work with not only the individual but also their family to make sure there is a strong support system at home.
  • Therapy can help people learn how to deal with cravings without taking more opioids.
  • People in therapy will be given tools they can use to develop general strategies for coping with difficult situations.
  • Therapy can also help people avoid high-risk situations that could lead to relapse.

Behavioral therapy specifically works to help people recover from opioid use disorder, manage cravings, and reduce their chances of relapsing.

How Does Behavioral Therapy Work?

Behavioral therapy is a specific type of addiction treatment that can help people recover from opioid use disorder. It is a form of talk therapy that takes place in a structured setting. Cognitive behavioral therapy, specifically, aims to help people become more aware of their thought processes and certain patterns that could lead to opioid use.

Behavioral therapy can also be used in combination with other types of therapy, particularly when there is a co-occurring mental health issue. Co-occurring mental health disorders are extremely common and mental health therapy can progress recovery. Addiction counseling can also help with recovery when medication alone is not sufficient. There are different levels of addiction counseling, outpatient (usually individual therapy) vs intensive outpatient (group therapy). Sometimes, people with opioid use disorder start in an inpatient setting, which allows them to detox in a safe location. Then, intensive outpatient and outpatient therapy is used to help people maintain their sobriety.

Benefits of Behavioral Therapy

There are several significant benefits of behavioral therapy for the treatment of opioid use disorder. They include:

Highly Engaging

For therapy to be successful, the patient has to be an active participant. Behavioral therapy encourages people to engage with every facet of the session, which helps them get the most out of the treatment process.


Behavioral therapy also holds the patient accountable for his or her behavior. Accountability is very important because without taking responsibility for his or her actions, the patient may struggle in their recovery.

Targets Thoughts and Emotions

Another major goal of behavioral therapy is that gets the patient to identify thought patterns, behaviors, and emotions that may contribute to opioid use. By making behavioral changes, it is possible to help someone not only get sober but also stay sober.

Limits Complications

Finally, behavioral therapy can also limit possible complications and side effects. Unlike prescription medications, which can come with complicated side effects, therapy has little to none.

Because of all of these benefits, it is easy to see why behavioral therapy is such an integral part of opioid use disorder treatment. If you are looking for behavioral therapy for opioid use disorder oh, we can help you.

Professional Help Is Available for Opioid Use Disorder

At MATClinics, we do not mandate any type of treatment, but we have plenty of resources available to you. We have a tremendous amount of experience working with people of all backgrounds, and we can help you customize your treatment plan to meet your needs. We will use every resource at our disposal to help you not only get better but also stay better. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you or a loved one recover from opioid use disorder.

Speak to a member of our team to schedule a New Patient visit, or just to get more information.

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