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The Opioid Crisis: Choosing the Right Recovery Center

Programs offering medication-assisted treatment are showing promise.

With more than 14,500 drug treatment centers operating in the United States,1 it might feel overwhelming trying to find the right program to treat an opioid use disorder. Talking with a healthcare professional and learning what to look for in a program can be important first steps down the road to recovery.

“No single treatment is right for everyone, but research shows that combining behavioral therapy with medications for opioid use disorder is the most effective approach for overcoming opioid addiction,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).2


Medication-assisted therapy (MAT) involves the use of methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone to reduce cravings and help “normalize” brain chemistry, the CDC says. “When people make a recovery plan that includes medication for opioid use disorder, their chances of success increase. These medications can be effective for treatment of addiction to prescription opioids, such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine, and codeine.”2

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) agency, says to consider these signs of quality treatment when researching recovery centers:3

  • Licensed and accredited. All facilities in the SAMHSA treatment locator,, are licensed by the state they’re in.
  • Medication. In treating alcohol or opioid use, a facility should only use the three FDA-approved medications: methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone.
  • Evidence-based practices. Quality programs should offer a full range of services that are accepted as effective in treatment and recovery, including: motivational therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, drug and alcohol counseling and education, peer support, and care for or help accessing care for other physical and mental health needs.
  • Families. Family members should be included in the treatment process. They have an important role in understanding the impact of addiction and being supportive in recovery.
  • Support beyond substance use. For many, addiction is a chronic disease that needs ongoing support. A quality program treats the whole patient for the long term. This can include ongoing counseling or recovery coaching and help meeting basic needs like sober housing, employment supports, and continued family involvement.

SAMHSA, whose mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on people and communities in the U.S., offers a searchable database of recovery centers by city and ZIP code as well as a free, confidential information and referral service at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Advancing Community Health

As part of its strategy to combat the opioid crisis, HHS is issuing grants to states and organizations to use for opioid prevention, treatment, and recovery services.4 Expanding access to public funding for treatment is vitally important, according to Dr. Jennifer Attonito, a contributing faculty member in Walden University’s College of Health Sciences.

In her Walden University webinar, The Opioid Epidemic: How Did It Happen and Where Is It Headed?, Dr. Attonito identified other key steps needed to help curb the opioid crisis:

  • Continue research of treatment modalities and MAT.
  • Secure ongoing federal funding until overdose rates stabilize.
  • Establish quality standards for sober homes.
  • Fund large-scale early prevention interventions.

If you want to join the prevention efforts, consider earning an MS in Health Education and Promotion online from Walden University to prepare for a career as a health educator.

Earning a health education and promotion degree can give you the knowledge and tools to make an impact in countless ways. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), health educators and community health workers:5

  • Assess the health needs of the people and communities they serve
  • Develop programs, materials, and events to teach people about health topics
  • Teach people how to manage existing health conditions
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of programs and educational materials
  • Help people find health services or information
  • Provide training programs for community health workers or other health professionals
  • Supervise staff who implement health education programs
  • Collect and analyze data to learn about a community and improve programs and services
  • Advocate for improved health resources and policies that promote health

The BLS projects employment of health educators and community health workers to grow 13% through 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations.5 If health education and promotion is your calling, earn a degree online from Walden, which has been empowering the greater good for 50 years. Become a change-maker with your career in health education.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering an online MS in Health Education and Promotion degree program. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.


Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,