Choosing the Best Inpatient Narcotic Rehab Centers

Last updated: 08/17/2021

Reading Time: 8 minutes

Narcotic rehab centers, located throughout the United States, are staffed by trained professionals ready to help you start your journey of lifelong sobriety. Many factors must be considered when preparing to enter narcotic rehab, such as availability and access to treatment facilities.

Choosing a narcotic rehab center can be an essential part of narcotic addiction recovery. For many individuals, the addictive properties of narcotics make it challenging to find sobriety without the external supports offered by a rehabilitation (rehab) program.

Addictive Properties of Narcotics

The words “opioids” and “narcotics” may sometimes be used interchangeably, but they are not strictly the same. All opioids are narcotics, but narcotics also include certain stimulants and psychoactive substances, such as cocaine and cannabis. However, the most common misuse of narcotics involves opioids. Typically, opioid misuse is being referred to when people talk about “narcotic misuse.”

Opioids relieve pain but are in a different drug class than over-the-counter pain medications (e.g., Tylenol and aspirin). Opioids are considered highly addictive; many people struggle with opioid addiction.1 The most common opioids are:8

Because of the high potential for addiction and misuse, the U.S. Controlled Substances Act regulates prescription opioids. Many individuals who become physically dependent on or addicted to opioids start taking them with a legally obtained prescription, such as after major surgery or a motor vehicle accident. Some individuals continue to get opioids using prescriptions—theirs or other peoples’—but others may begin to use illegal opioids, such as fentanyl analogs or heroin.1

People can quickly become dependent on opioid narcotics because they trigger endorphins, activating a strong response in the reward center of the brain. Endorphins are chemicals that have the two primary functions of regulating stress through elevating the mood and reducing pain by acting as sedatives. Opioids trigger a temporary sense of well-being. When opioids are taken in the absence of acute pain, you may experience profound sedation or intense euphoria due to the excess endorphins.

Because opioids produce an intense level of brain activation that does not typically occur naturally, you can experience cravings for opioids or develop a physical dependence on them even when the drugs have been prescribed.8 When taking opioids, especially for an extended period, the brain shifts the way it usually functions to accommodate the drug, eventually resulting in the brain becoming dependent on opioids to function.2 Dependence is more likely to occur if you have a daily, long-term prescription and your doctor has not created a plan for you to reduce and stop your opioid dose gradually. The cycle of taking a drug that creates cravings to use more of the drug can develop into addiction.

When opioid narcotics use stops, you can experience withdrawal symptoms.2 These symptoms may be overwhelming and challenging to manage. Withdrawal symptoms, including strong cravings, are one reason people with opioid use disorders may avoid entering treatment.2

Narcotic Rehab Centers Level of Care

Begin your narcotic rehab center search by considering the levels of care offered at different facilities. In the drug and alcohol treatment world, levels of care from the most intensive to the least intensive care include the following.


The first phase of treatment is detoxification (detox).3 Medical detox involves professional health care providers who can safely manage withdrawal symptoms. During medical detox, professionals monitor any potentially significant symptoms and keep you as comfortable as possible while your body clears the substances.3

Sometimes, medical detox is necessary, particularly when a person is detoxing from narcotics such as opioids. A qualified professional, such as a licensed therapist or a medical health care provider, can advise you on whether you need medical detox. Withdrawing safely from opioids is necessary before going on to the next phase of treatment.

Inpatient Rehab Treatment

Inpatient treatment involves building sober coping and life skills for recovery. The vital work of maintaining long-term sobriety begins during inpatient treatment.3 Inpatient treatment offers substance misuse education, individual and group therapy, and behavioral therapy. You may also participate in peer support groups.

These sessions focus on drug misuse education, individual and group counseling, and coping skills education.

Outpatient Rehab Treatment

Outpatient treatment offers many of the same types of programs that an inpatient rehab facility offers, but the time you spend in treatment is limited to daytime hours. Outpatient drug rehab can be a good standalone option for someone with a mild or moderate substance use disorder or part of a long-term treatment program. Outpatient treatment may only be a few hours per day, several times per week. The overall goal of outpatient rehab is to continue working on the coping skills learned in inpatient treatment while applying those skills to everyday living in the community.


Aftercare is the part of addiction treatment that incorporates ongoing recovery in the community after a person completes rehab. Aftercare may include peer support groups, counseling sessions, individual or group therapy sessions, or 12-step fellowship meetings. Often, aftercare involves limited programming, such as continued counseling once a week for an hour or two. The goal of aftercare is for a person to continue in a supportive environment and apply coping skills to day-to-day life.

Availability of Narcotic Rehab Centers

Evaluating a narcotic rehab center’s availability is the first step in searching for a narcotic rehab center. Screening a facility for availability involves consideration of several factors.4

Geographic Location

Geographic location needs vary from person to person. Some people may choose to stay close to home to allow for family involvement during treatment. Others may find it challenging to stay in the same geographic area, as triggers may arise from being close to the people and places associated with their substance use.4

Considering a geographically distant rehab center is a personal decision. Keep in mind that if you plan to have your family members involved in the family therapy aspect of a rehab program, your family members can still be involved in the treatment process remotely or for a short period.4

Insurance Acceptance

Insurance can be a significant factor when deciding which narcotic rehab center to choose. Your insurance policy may only provide payment for in-network treatment centers. This can narrow your search options and help you decide on the best center for your addiction treatment needs.4

Admission Openings and Service Hours

Perhaps the most pressing consideration when choosing a rehab center is whether the prospective facility has current openings. Once you are motivated, finding an opening can help you continue moving forward.5

This sense of immediacy regarding entering treatment is manageable when the treatment center has a current opening and a wide range of service hours. If the potential facility can process new admissions 24/7, it is more feasible to enter treatment when your motivation level is high, rather than waiting until the center can accommodate you.5

Treatment Time Frame

When choosing a narcotic rehab program, determine whether the prospective program can facilitate your desired treatment time frame.  Traditionally, narcotic addiction inpatient treatment lasts no more than 90 days, usually between 30 and 60 days.5

For those who must take time off work for an inpatient program, a 30-day treatment program may be ideal. Others may need a longer inpatient stay to ensure a solid sobriety foundation before going back to living in the community. If you require a longer-term stay, you can look for programs that offer an extended stay.Many rehabilitation centers can accommodate their patients’ needs when it comes to the length of stay and may adjust the length of your stay as your treatment plan changes. However, some facilities require a transfer to a long-term treatment program, such as a sober living house, after 60 days.5

Remaining in treatment until you feel ready to transition to an outpatient setting can help prevent potential relapses. A person with narcotics addiction may require a longer-term treatment stay due to narcotic use-related brain changes. This higher level of care translates to a more extended stay in all levels of care.6 Fortunately, facilities that treat narcotics addictions often accommodate a longer treatment duration.

Narcotic Rehab Center Treatment Approach

Consider the prospective center’s treatment approach before deciding on the narcotic rehab facility that is right for you.

Philosophy on Addiction

Consider the prospective center’s overall mission and philosophy. You want to select a facility focused on long-term recovery and offers the tools necessary to achieve that goal. Treatment facilities that ascribe to the disease model of addiction and use evidence-based treatment methods are more likely to facilitate positive results in your long-term recovery journey.7

Treatment Methods

Consider the treatment methods and the types of therapy offered at each facility. Each center will have a slightly different approach to treating addiction, so you want to be sure to select one that fits your needs and promotes your personal sobriety goals.7

When looking at prospective inpatient rehab centers, ideally, you will enter a treatment program that offers therapies to promote:2

  • Building motivation for change
  • Planning strategies to prevent relapse
  • Improving problem-solving skills
  • Increasing self-soothing techniques
  • Promoting healthy interpersonal relationships

These treatment techniques are the building blocks to a successful recovery. They are tools to substitute healthy thoughts and behaviors in place of old substance-using patterns. Overall, these tools help people maintain long-term recovery and avoid a relapse.5

Additionally, if you are aware of mental health concerns that need to be addressed during treatment, consider a facility that can treat both substance use disorders and co-occurring mental health disorders.5

It may prove beneficial to consider treatment centers that offer integrated treatment for co-occurring disorders (i.e., dual diagnosis) regardless of your mental health history. People seeking addiction treatment often experience an undiagnosed mental health condition.5 It may prove helpful to attend a treatment facility that is prepared to treat a dual diagnosis.

Medication Support

Confirm that prospective rehab facilities offer medication support services for narcotic addiction treatment. Many people who seek narcotic addiction treatment need some form of medication support in their recovery journey due to the brain changes that occur secondary to narcotics use.6

Medications are highly effective in overriding the effects of narcotics and creating a foundation for long-term recovery.8

You may consider a facility that provides narcotic-specific medication management including:6

  • Methadone
  • Buprenorphine
  • Naltrexone

These medications are effective when they are part of a comprehensive drug treatment program. It is not advised to manage your recovery using these medications without the oversight of a treatment team. Combining rehab treatment with the right type of medication improves recovery outcomes.5

Addiction treatment is not one-size-fits-all; everybody’s experience is different. Therefore, everyone’s recovery needs vary.5 Researching and selecting the best treatment facility for you or your loved one is pivotal for a good recovery experience.5

If you or a loved one are considering treatment for narcotic addiction and need more support, please call (800) 662-HELP (4357) today.


  1. Singh, G. K., Kim, I. E., Girmay, M., Perry, C., Daus, G. P., Vedamuthu, I. P., De Los Reyes, A. A., Ramey, C. T., Martin, E. K., & Allender, M. (2019, September 15). Opioid epidemic in the United States: empirical trends, and a literature review of social determinants and epidemiological, pain management, and treatment patterns. International Journal of Maternal and Child Health and AIDS, 8(2), 89–100.
  2. Kosten, T. R., & George, T. P. (2002). The neurobiology of opioid dependence: implications for treatment. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 1(1),13-20.
  3. Wakim, J. H. (2012). Alleviating Symptoms of Withdrawal from an Opioid. Pain and Therapy, 1(1),
  4. Weinstein, Z.M., Wakeman, S.E., & Nolan, S. Inpatient addiction consult service: expertise for hospitalized patients with complex addiction problems. (2018). Medical Clinics of North America, 102(4), 587-601.
  5. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2020, September 18). Principles of effective treatment.
  6. Bart, G. (2012). Maintenance medication for opiate addiction: the foundation of recovery. Journal of Addictive Diseases, 31(3), 207–225.
  7. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2009). Principles of drug addiction treatment: a research-based guide (second edition).
  8. John’s Hopkins Medical Center. What Are Opioids?

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