Opioid Addiction

Counseling is an integral component of a comprehensive outpatient medication-assisted treatment (MAT) program. Decades of research have proven that MAT is most effective when accompanied by professional counseling and support.

Medications such as buprenorphine, in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies, provide a whole-patient approach to the treatment of opioid dependency.

AppleGate Recovery counselors are trained professionals experienced with the complex disease of addiction. Each counselor is trained in a number of proven counseling techniques used to address the causes and consequences of addiction. Our focus is on helping patients identify and attain their unique recovery goals and improve their overall mental and emotional well-being. Patients can benefit from both individual and group counseling settings, both of which are available at AppleGate.


Individual counseling focuses on addressing the underlying emotional and psychological aspects of addiction and preparing patients to handle the everyday challenges of life. AppleGate counselors are trained to work with patients to determine their unique areas of focus, addressing issues that have had a negative effect on patients emotionally, psychologically or spiritually. These may include:

  • Overcoming cravings for opioids or other mind-altering substances
  • Understanding the disease of addiction and relapse prevention techniques
  • Learning healthy coping mechanisms and strategies to manage stress
  • Building life skills to improve quality of life in all areas
  • Finding a safe place to work through past trauma, family issues and other problems
  • Repairing and maintaining healthy relationships with family and friends
  • Developing support systems for ongoing recovery
  • Planning and goal setting to build a happy and productive life in long-term recovery
individual counseling

Setting Goals for Recovery

Goal setting is an important part of a patient’s recovery counseling. Setting goals provides much needed motivation and structure throughout all phases of treatment and into long-term recovery. Goals can be difficult to set and follow without guidance. AppleGate Recovery counselors work with patients to develop healthy, attainable goals and track their progress by answering the following questions:


1. What are my “big picture” goals?

Goals such as “be happy” and “live a healthier life” may be difficult to measure, but can help get started in the goal setting process.


2. What specific things in my life do I want to improve?

Patients should be able to track their progress toward attaining these goals and measure their success over time.


3. How do I prioritize my goals?

The number of goals generated can be overwhelming as patient try to repair the various areas of their live. Counselors can help patients determine the goals which are most vital to their mental or physical health to be addressed first, and then prioritizing the remaining goals as appropriate for each patient.


Group counseling can be an extremely effective part of a comprehensive treatment plan. AppleGate counselors facilitate groups to help patients see that they are not alone in their addiction. Many patients coming into any type of treatment program feel overwhelmed, ashamed and afraid. Group counseling offers an opportunity to share those feelings with others who’ve had similar experiences, creating a sense of belonging. Additional benefits of group counseling include:

  • Sharing experiences and solutions provide patients with the opportunity to learn new tools and strategies for problem-solving from others in recovery.
  • Feelings of guilt and shame are reduced as patients realize that others have had similar experiences in and out of addiction.
  • Patients are able to provide support and hold one another accountable to their individual and group treatment goals.
  • Building a support network of both family and friends, but also others in recovery provides a patient with the support needed to persevere through difficulties in sobriety.
Young people on group therapy session

Support Systems

Outside of the counseling options provided in-house, AppleGate encourages patients to build and extend their recovery support systems. This may include their families, friends and loved ones, or other groups specializing in addiction recovery. Such groups may include AA, NA or other peer recovery groups. They may also include Intensive Outpatient Treatment Programs (IOP) or other professional programs which complement the AppleGate program.

Counseling After Treatment

When a patient enters the buprenorphine maintenance phase or can stop taking medicine, they can still benefit from ongoing counseling. Opioid addiction counseling after MAT helps patients achieve the following recovery goals:

Develop a Post-Treatment Plan

A post-treatment plan includes strategies to help the patient continue recovery after MAT. At this point, many patients have a MAT counselor who understands their needs in recovery. The counselor and patient can build on this knowledge to create a personalized post-treatment plan that features ways to:

  • Connect with recovery support such as friends, family and health care professionals and maintain these important relationships
  • Manage potential triggers for opioid use and know where to find support when they cause difficulty
  • Practice a healthy lifestyle to help the body and mind recover from opioid addiction
Sober College Campuses

Post-Treatment Planning

Build and Maintain Support Systems

During counseling sessions for ongoing recovery, a patient can work with their counselor to maintain a support system. These relationships can include informal support, such as family, and formal support, such as self-help groups. Since everyone has different social groups and access to resources, the patient and counselor will account for these unique needs.

Manage Co-Occurring Conditions

In many cases of opiate addiction, the patient has an underlying mental health condition known as a co-occurring disorder. When someone has an addiction and a co-occurring condition, they need to address both disorders to promote successful recovery. Counselors who specialize in co-occurring disorders know how to treat the symptoms of addiction alongside mental health conditions. They can help patients manage their mental health to help them achieve their recovery goals.

Promote Healthy Habits

Lifestyle changes focused on overall health and wellness can help patients maintain recovery. By supporting the body's natural functions, these habits can help the patient rely less on opioids. Regular exercise can reduce cravings by providing natural endorphins and a distraction from cravings. Meanwhile, proper nutrition enhances energy and mood to help the patient manage their symptoms.

Identify and Manage Triggers

Triggers for opioid use occur differently for every patient, making a proactive approach critical. Throughout post-treatment counseling, the counselor and patient will determine what situations trigger opioid cravings. These can include stress or reminders of opioid use. By identifying triggers and creating strategies to manage them, the patient can more confidently handle these situations.

Create a Relapse Plan

Relapse can happen during recovery from opioid addiction. If relapse occurs, it does not make the patient a failure. Relapse is simply a possible symptom of opioid addiction that the patient and their treatment team can address together. A relapse plan includes the resources available during a relapse and the steps to return to treatment. Relapse plans reduce the stigma a patient may feel and encourage them to get the help they need.

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