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How to Stop Using Opioids

With the right support and motivation, breaking free from opioid addiction is possible

Opioids, including prescription pain medications, heroin, and synthetic opioids like fentanyl, are highly addictive substances. Stopping opioid use is challenging but can be done with the right strategies and support. Quitting opioids requires a comprehensive approach that includes medical support, therapy, and lifestyle changes. Understanding the types of opioids, managing withdrawal symptoms, and recognizing the health risks involved are critical steps towards recovery.

Affect Therapeutics offers a comprehensive, science-based program designed to support you on the recovery journey from opioid addiction. Our innovative approach includes a rewards system that motivates and reinforces healthy behaviors, making recovery more manageable and effective. This method is backed by research indicating that positive reinforcement can greatly enhance recovery outcomes.

Affect’s all-digital platform provides the flexibility and privacy to access support whenever and wherever you need it, allowing you to integrate recovery into your daily life seamlessly. All of the care and services of an outpatient rehab clinic – including medications, therapy, and more – come right to you. Everything you need to quit opioids and regain control of your life is right at your fingertips.

You can quit drugs without going to rehab using Affect's telehealth addiction recovery app

Affect’s app uses gamification and rewards to activate the areas of the brain, proven by neuroscience to help break difficult addictions

Types of Opioids

Opioids come in various forms, each with unique properties and risks. Understanding the differences between prescription pain medications, heroin, fentanyl, and other opioids is crucial in addressing addiction and its consequences. Below is an overview of the main types of opioids, highlighting their specific characteristics and dangers.

Prescription Pain Medications

Prescription opioids, such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, and morphine, are often prescribed for pain relief but carry a high risk of addiction. These medications can create dependency even when taken as directed.


Heroin is an illegal opioid derived from morphine. It is highly addictive and often injected, snorted, or smoked. Heroin use can lead to severe health complications, including the risk of infectious diseases from needle sharing.


Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. It is used medically for severe pain but is also made and used illegally. Due to its potency, fentanyl poses a high risk of overdose.

Other Opioids

Other opioids include codeine, methadone, and tramadol. Each has its own risks and potential for addiction. Methadone is sometimes used in medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid addiction.

Health Risks and Damage Caused by Opioids

Opioids are powerful and highly addictive drugs that can have serious health consequences for people who use them, and they are deadly. Opioid addiction is a crisis in the United States where more than 2.7 million people have an opioid use disorder (OUD), including 2.3 million people whose disorder is with prescription opioids like pain killers. Of the more than 106,000 overdose deaths in 2021, more than 80,000 of them involved opioids.

There are more health consequences than overdoses. The opioid addiction crisis has led to a rising number of infants being born with opioid dependency because their mothers used substances during pregnancy. There is also an increase in the spread of infectious diseases like HIV and hepatitis C (HCV).

Opioids seriously damage the brain. Studies have shown that people with opioid dependency have impaired areas of the brain for memory, attention, spatial planning, and executive functions. Information processing speed is lowered, causing great difficulty in learning and adjusting to new situations, problem solving, reasoning and decision making.

Opioids damage the heart, the kidneys, the liver, and do long term damage to many systems in the human body.

  • Respiratory Depression: Slows down breathing, which can lead to fatal overdoses.
  • Cardiovascular Issues: Increased risk of heart infections and collapsed veins (in injection users).
  • Liver Damage: Due to toxicity and increased workload in processing the drugs.
  • Brain Damage: Affects decision-making, behavior control, and response to stress.
  • Infectious Diseases: Higher risk of HIV, hepatitis, and other infections from needle sharing.
  • Gastrointestinal Problems: Causes severe constipation and other digestive issues.

Opioid Withdrawal Timeline and Medication Management

Withdrawal from opioids is rarely life threatening, but it is very uncomfortable. Physical withdrawal symptoms can be managed with medications to help people recovery from opioid addiction.

Acute Withdrawal (1-7 days)

The first phase of withdrawal typically begins within hours of the last dose and can last up to a week. Symptoms may include anxiety, muscle aches, sweating, insomnia, and severe cravings.

Post-Acute Withdrawal (Weeks to Months)

Longer-term withdrawal symptoms can persist for weeks or months, including mood swings, fatigue, and continued cravings.

What Medications Help Manage Opioid Withdrawal?

  • Methadone: Reduces withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
  • Buprenorphine: Alleviates withdrawal symptoms and reduces cravings.
  • Naltrexone: Blocks the euphoric effects of opioids, helping to prevent relapse.

    What is suboxone?

    Effective medications exist to treat opioid use disorder include methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone. Suboxone is an FDA-approved prescription medication used to treat opioid addiction in adults that combines buprenorphine and naloxone.

    Suboxone has been proven to be highly effective in successfully stabilizing people in opioid withdrawal and reducing the severity of symptoms. As part of a complete treatment program including group counseling and individual therapy, medication-assisted treatment with Suboxone can reduce someone’s dependence on opioids for the long term.

    Do I need to go to rehab to stop using opioids?

    “Rehab” or “rehabilitation” is short-hand for a variety of traditional treatment options, usually offered in physical locations that range from residential hospitals to outpatient clinics with daily scheduled sessions. While these types of programs offer intensive care, they can be difficult for people to attend, due to work, childcare, transportation, or financial limitations.

    Affect was designed to make treatment accessible to anyone, anywhere, without going to rehab. Our program is entirely digital and delivered through a smartphone app, which means you can do it from home or work, in the city or in the country. We accept both employer and Medicaid insurance, so you don’t have to worry about high healthcare costs. It’s convenient and cost-effective, but it’s also complete, ensuring you get care that is supported by science and is customized for your needs.

    What’s the best way to quit using opioids?

    It’s very, very hard to quit using opioids on your own. Highly addictive, opioids hook you fast and quickly change your brain to make you completely dependent on them. The cravings are intense and the withdrawal is harsh. It takes professional help to stop using opioids for good, and there is finally help that works.

    Affect’s program uses research-proven techniques and was created by some of the best researchers and scientists in the field of addiction treatment. Through our app, members get all the services provided from an outpatient clinic including medications, group and individual therapy, and much more.

    Contingency Management and Harm Reduction

    Since drugs like opioids rewire the brain’s rewards system, research has proven that the best way to beat addictions is to stimulate the brain’s system in other ways. The most effective method is by winning rewards for doing things that help you quit. This method is known as “contingency management.”

    To understand how it works, think about how you win points and beat levels in a game and how good it feels each time you do. The more you win, the more you want to keep playing. And even when it gets hard to beat a level, you keep going until you get that victory. Contingency management turns your recovery into a kind of game you don’t want to stop playing. Along the way, you start developing new healthy habits.

    It is very common to relapse while recovering from opioid addiction. Research shows that gradually reducing use over time works better for stimulants like meth and opioids, a method addiction specialists call “harm reduction.” Affect’s treatment program helps members through relapses and lower their substance use gradually as they reduce the harm they do to themselves and their loved ones.

    Does Affect’s program work to beat opioid addictions?

    Yes it does. Affect’s digital program is in the 1% of all treatment providers and data shows our program to be twice as effective as traditional methods to treat opioid addictions and help people quit. Our members praise the program for being able to help them when nothing else has worked.

    Our members dramatically increase their number of sober days in just the first month. Their energy and health improves and their brains start to recover. With the help of licensed addiction counselors, members explore the roots of their addiction and learn how to identify and control triggers without feeling the need to use opioids. As withdrawal symptoms fade and healthy habits are formed, our members rebuild their lives as they recover from opioids. You can read what they have to say about our program.

    Affect’s program is also unique in supporting “whole recovery” of our members’ lives. Care teams include advocates who provide members with support for housing, employment, healthcare and more.

    Are you ready to stop using opioids and get your life back? Reach out and talk to us to find out more, or download the app and try it yourself.

    Let’s get started getting better. We’re here for you.

    Suboxone® is a registered trademark of Indivior PLC. Any reference to it is for informational purposes only, and is not endorsed or sponsored by Indivior PLC.