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Breaking an addiction first requires getting the drug out of the person's body. An Opiate detox program can last up to a week.
Many patients spend time in drug rehab centers, repairing physical damage and treating the psychological attitudes and social issues that led to the addiction. This treatment may involve group therapy, self-help groups such as Narcotics Anonymous, and training in life skills required for drug-free survival.
Opiate addiction is particularly persistent and may require maintenance drugs to sustain a life without the addictive substance. Methadone is the best-known of these, usually administered medically as a way of reducing some of the social ills associated with heroin addiction. Buprenorphine, approved in 2002 by the FDA, is gaining popularity because it is less habit-forming than methadone and poses less risk of overdose.