Opioid detoxification and substance misuse

Some evidence – there is enough evidence to indicate that this can be a helpful treatment option.

You could be offered opioid detoxification if you are physically dependent on opiates and are experiencing withdrawal symptoms. This involves agreeing to stop taking all other opiates and instead being offered an opioid substitute called buprenorphine or methadone. Your professional will gradually reduce your dose of the opioid substitute so that you get used to managing with smaller and smaller doses until it is stopped completely. This will help you to avoid experiencing withdrawal symptoms. Your use of opiates and other drugs will be monitored by your healthcare team.

Detoxification can take place at home with support from your local substance misuse team and usually takes up to 12 weeks. Some people are offered opioid detoxification in hospital, which your professional might suggest if:

  • you have a severe physical or mental health conditions or other difficulties
  • you are dependent on benzodiazepines or alcohol as well as opioids
  • detoxification at home has not worked

If you are in hospital or residential rehabilitation for opioid detoxification the process will normally last up to 4 weeks.

You and your family will usually be offered psychological support while you stop taking opioids. You should then be offered a psychological treatment (cognitive behavioural therapy or family based treatment) to help you stay off these substances.

Treatments outlined on these webpages may not be available in every local area. It’s important that you discuss with your GP or mental health professional the treatment options available to you. You can also search for services near you on our Youth Wellbeing Directory and find out more about referral processes here.


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