Opioids: Treatment FAQs

There are many different paths to recovery from the misuse and abuse of opioids. Research has shown people seeking recovery are more successful when they combine a prescribed medication used to treat opioid use disorder with professional counseling and a strong support system. This is called medication-assisted treatment.

Why is it so hard to stop?

Opioids change the body and brain chemistry. Over time, people may need more of the opioid to get the desired effect such as pain relief; sense of pleasure or excitement; or intense feelings of well-being. The need for the opioid becomes a powerful motivator to keep using, even when there is a strong desire to stop. People keep using the opioid to avoid withdrawal symptoms and to stop feeling sick. It is these symptoms and feelings that make it hard to stop an opioid after the body and brain have become accustomed to the drug.

How do I start?

Overcoming opioid use disorder can seem overwhelming. Here are some places to start.

  • If you know people who stopped using opioids through medication-assisted treatment, you can ask them about their treatment experience.
  • If you have a counselor, case manager, or doctor you trust, you can ask them about medication-assisted treatment options in your area.
  • If you want to explore medication-assisted treatment options on your own, use this directory.

Which medication do I start?

Three medications are approved for treating opioid use disorder. These medications help reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms that come from stopping opioid use.

Methadone and buprenorphine are only available from approved opioid treatment programs and from specially trained medical professionals. Naltrexone is available through any qualified medical professional.

How do I choose a provider?

Medication-assisted treatment is available in a variety of settings, including state and federally regulated opioid treatment programs, private medical clinics, private clinics specializing in the treatment of substance use disorders, and community health centers.

Here are some tips to help you choose a provider:

  • Ask about their approach to treatment.
  • Ask if they have services for your unique needs, if any, including treatment for people with HIV/AIDS and pregnant women.
  • Ask if there is a waiting list and long will it take to be seen.
  • Ask about payment options.

What happens during treatment?

There are four stages of medication-assisted treatment.

  • Stop using. Focus on controlling withdrawal symptoms, getting through detox, and reaching stabilization.
  • Learn recovery skills. Focus on recognizing high-risk situations and taking action to avoid relapse.
  • Stay in recovery. Focus on finding a routine, building a support network, and learning to have fun without using.
  • Live in recovery. Focus on living a full and meaningful life in recovery through employment, relationships with family and friends, connections in the community, and better overall health.

Resource: Opioid Treatment Program Patient Reference Handbook, P-23048

What are my rights in treatment?

Opioid Addiction Treatment: A Guide for Patients, Families, and Friends

Use this guide from the American Society of Addiction Medicine to navigate treatment options.

Healthy Pregnancy Healthy Baby

These fact sheets are from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Find treatment in Wisconsin

Call 911 in a life-threatening emergency. Pregnant women are given priority in treatment admissions.

Opioids: Wisconsin Treatment Directory
Find providers of medication-assisted treatment.

Wisconsin Addiction Recovery Helpline
Call: 211 or 833-944-4673
Visit: addictionhelpwi.org

Statewide recovery residences registry
Recovery residences are home-like, residential environments that promote healthy recovery from a substance use disorder and support people recovering from a substance use disorder through the use of peer recovery support. View the Wisconsin Recovery Residence Registry (PDF).

Agencies interested in being listed on the Wisconsin Recovery Residence Registry must submit an application. Learn more about the recovery residence approval process.

To file a complaint against a recovery residence listed on the Wisconsin Recovery Residence Registry, contact the Division of Quality of Assurance.

Last Revised: May 6, 2021