Treating More Than Opioid Dependence—Why Residential Treatment Is Critical to Recovery

Convincing to go to treatment.

Overcoming hardships is a part of the natural process of life. I don’t think anyone could say that life is “easy” for anyone. Challenges and obstacles are things we must all face from time to time. It’s just a part of life on planet Earth. Welcome to the show.

When faced with challenges, for the most part, we like to tackle these adversaries on our own, head-on. Most people think that we tend to grow more and become abler if we can overcome obstacles without help. And there might be some truth in that, but that doesn’t mean that one shouldn’t ask for help when it is needed. In the case of opioid dependence and addiction, this is not a challenge one should face alone, even if he wanted to. When someone struggles with an addiction to opioids, the correct thing to do is to seek help from a residential addiction treatment center.

Breaking Down the Barriers—Why Addicts Want to “Go It Alone”

I’ve heard it many times: “I don’t need to go to rehab, I can kick my drug habit on my own.” I've quite literally heard that phrase a thousand times or more—no exaggeration. But how many times have I heard, “Ren, I did it. I kicked my drug habit on my own!” Zero times for that one.

After hearing this story like a repeating record year after year, I started to wonder why drug users and alcoholics are so inspired to battle their drug habit on their own and why they are so unwilling to accept help from a qualified treatment center, which is the right thing to do. I narrowed the list of possibilities down to a few scenarios:

  • A struggling addict sees the obstacles of getting into treatment as insurmountable. Not an illegitimate concern, but certainly not something one should use as a reason to stay out of rehab. But a lot of times struggling addicts will not know how to get past the obstacles of accessing treatment. It could be a financial thing. Or maybe there are no qualified treatment centers nearby, and they will have to travel out of state. Or possibly they have young children to take care of or a career that demands their attention.
Family member refusing help.
  • Another reason why addicts insist on “Going it alone” is because they don’t really believe that they have a problem—in the first place. So rather than accepting help from their friends, family members, loved ones, and a treatment center, they will sort of palm off these advances and insist that they can handle things “on their own.”
  • Fear is another big factor. Sometimes, struggling addicts are merely afraid to change—terrified of the prospect of breaking free from their drug habit and fearful of withdrawal symptoms. They are terrified of what the future might hold for them if it is a future without drugs. Many times, drug users have been using drugs for years before the idea of rehab is even presented to them as a serious prospect. That’s a significant lifestyle change for them. Just confronting their fears to enter treatment is itself an obstacle.
  • They don’t believe it will “work for them.” Tens of thousands of opiate addicts die every year. Most died before they could get into a treatment center. But some (not many) died from an opiate overdose after completing treatment. Here we have a great threat to an addict’s life—the threat of relapse. A lot of times, a struggling addict’s reasoning for not seeking help at a treatment center and instead opting to “get clean by myself,” is this erroneous concept that rehab doesn’t really work, and that the person has just as good a chance of kicking their habit on their own as they do in rehab.
  • Last but not least, struggling addicts often get this idea that they have to do it themselves. It’s this sort of, “I got myself into this mess, now I have to be the one to get myself out of it” type of thinking. Honorable and admirable maybe, but completely unnecessary. Better to help them overcome their drug habit and let them get excited about tackling other areas of life alone than to let them try and come down off of opioids without help.

The Value of Addiction Treatment for Opioid Dependence

Let’s talk about the kind of value that a qualified, residential drug and alcohol addiction treatment center brings to the table, and why it is an absolute must for opiate addicts.

The above objections discuss various reasonings as to why struggling opiate addicts do not want to seek treatment. What reasoning can we find for why they would want to seek help?

Sober son getting acknowledgement from his father.

First we have to recognize that residential drug treatment centers save lives.These are programs that are fully equipped to address the physical, psychological, behavioral, personal, and spiritual aspects of a drug habit and the effects that it is having on the person. People come to these rehab centers completely broken-down, physically emaciated and very sick, psychologically ruined and grief stricken. Residential rehab centers help build them back up again, bringing them back to the person they were before they started using drugs, possibly even better than that.

Furthermore, drug rehabs are a safe choice. It is seriously dangerous to one’s health to try and withdraw from opiates on one’s own. No doctor would recommend it. The correct medical advice when someone is addicted to opioids is to seek treatment at a qualified addiction treatment center which is a residential facility. There the addict can receive medical help if needed, plus a whole lot of support and around-the-clock care.

Opiate addicts often get the idea that the obstacles to treatment are too high because they are still reasoning with this individual, one-person army, “I have to do it all myself” concept. That is erroneous. The obstacles to getting into and through a treatment center may be a legitimate concern of a struggling addict, but he or she needs to understand that help is available. Family members, loved ones, friends, co-workers, and the treatment center itself will all come together and do whatever it takes to ensure their loved one has access to treatment.

The value of residential addiction treatment cannot be overstated. Yes, recovering addicts do sometimes relapse. But that is usually because they went to a rehab center that did not offer enough service for a long enough duration of time, and often because they went to a treatment center on someone else’s determinism. When an opioid user truly wants to get help, and they pick the right treatment center to get it, the overall decline of their life will be halted, and the road to lasting and stable sobriety can finally begin.

According to Market Watch, 2.5 million people have received addiction treatment services at drug and alcohol rehab centers. This is the correct approach for someone who struggles with opiate addiction or with any addiction for that matter. If you are seeking help for yourself or a loved one who is struggling with an opioid habit, now’s the time to look into residential addiction treatment as being the pathway out of this mess.


Reviewed by Claire Pinelli, ICAADC, CCS, LADC, RAS, MCAP



After working in addiction treatment for several years, Ren now travels the country, studying drug trends and writing about addiction in our society. Ren is focused on using his skill as an author and counselor to promote recovery and effective solutions to the drug crisis. Connect with Ren on LinkedIn.