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Opioid painkiller dependence is a complex condition affected by social, psychological and biological factors. It is associated with severe morbidity and an increased risk of premature death. However, successful treatment helps people overcome their dependence, lead a long, healthy life and re-engage in the activities that mean most to them.

Traditionally, medication assisted care for opioid painkiller dependence was only delivered in specialised, highly regulated and controlled, treatment centres, where medications were dispensed on a supervised, daily basis. Today, treatment, including medications that allow you to stabilise your condition and continue treatment from home, is increasingly available outside specialised clinics, in convenient and accessible settings, as part of general health services.

To find out more about accessing treatment, speak to your family doctor today.

I had options I didn’t know about”


Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is one of the most effective treatment options for opioid painkiller dependence. It includes taking an opioid agonist (e.g. buprenorphine or methadone) every day to stabilise the opioid effect, so that you feel neither intoxication nor withdrawal, just “normal” (Source: WHO, 2009) and can stay focused on your treatment goals. Combining medication-assisted treatment with psychosocial counselling has been shown to increase the likelihood of treatment success.

To find out more about medication-assisted treatment, talk to your healthcare provider.

As with other chronic diseases, there’s more to opioid dependence than just the physical symptoms. How you feel about yourself, your behaviour, and your personal choices may also be affected by opioid painkiller dependence. Counselling can be very effective in addressing the psychological and behavioural aspects of dependence. Working with a professional counsellor or therapist, such as a trained psychiatrist or psychologist, or listening to other people who share your concerns and experiences, may help you recognise the situations, feelings, or events that could "trigger" a desire to use opioids.

Recognising these triggers in yourself and the world around you — and learning new coping skills — can help you avoid triggers altogether or manage them effectively.

Your doctor will be able to recommend psychosocial support for you.

In-patient or residential treatment programs in specialised clinics or hospitals can offer around-the-clock support and highly structured programs. Patients can detach from their everyday lives for a period of time and focus entirely on following their treatment plan and achieving their goals. Such residential treatment programs may also include medication intake and psychosocial support. The length of stay is determined by the patient and the treatment team, according to the patient’s needs and treatment progress.

To find out more about in-patient treatment programs in your area, speak to your healthcare provider.

“I look forward to my future”

FAQs: About treatment options

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