Treatment tips

How to keep your resolution to quit opioids this year

Find effective strategies and practical tips to assist you in your journey on quitting opioid use in the new year.

Ophelia team
How to keep your resolution too quit opioids
Icon of shield with check mark inside
Fact checked by
Arthur Robin Williams, MD

People often see the start of a new year as an opportunity to make significant changes in their lives. This type of landmark date can provide both motivation and time to prepare for a long-term goal. If your New Year’s goal is to get off opioids, you might be looking for some support to ensure your January motivation lasts well beyond the end of the month. This guide outlines useful tips for how to get off opioids and sustain your progress.

5 strategies to quit opioids in the new year

1. Know your why

Humans are motivated by many factors, and no two people experience motivation the same way. This is true whether you’re trying to do your laundry or successfully manage an opioid use disorder (OUD). Currently, many opioid treatment programs emphasize external motivations for quitting. External motivations—like money, rewards, and social recognition—can be effective in some situations, they may not be the best approach to big lifestyle and wellness goals.

Instead of focusing on external rewards, it’s important to seek intrinsic, or internal, motivation. This is called “knowing your why,” and it means knowing and internalizing what’s most important to you and what helps you overcome challenges. When you read a book, play a video game, draw a picture, or sing a song just for the simple act of doing it—even if something about it is difficult—you’re intrinsically motivated. 

Intrinsic motivation helps people stay engaged in long-term goals and achieve better results, so it’s crucial to find what motivates you and why. Maybe your why is the smile on a loved one’s face when they see you making progress, or maybe your why is better physical or mental health. It could even be something as seemingly insignificant as having the time, energy, and resources for hobbies.

Finding your why can take some self-reflection. You may want to take the BARC-10 assessment to help dig into what you may need to better thrive during treatment.

2. Don’t attempt to quit cold turkey

There are plenty of products and programs out there that claim to offer quick fixes to big problems permanently, from crash diets and get rich quick schemes to “challenges” like Dry January. However, quick fixes rarely work long-term, and they can sometimes have disastrous effects. Quitting drugs cold turkey can quickly lead to withdrawal; in the case of some drugs, like alcohol or opioids, withdrawal can be extremely dangerous. In some cases, unsupervised opioid withdrawal can be deadly. Quitting in this manner also runs a higher risk of relapse and subsequent overdose. 

Instead of risking your recovery success by quitting opioids cold turkey, look into tapering off usage with medical supervision. Medication for addiction treatment (MAT) is a safe method of opioid treatment that frequently yields consistent, long-lasting results. Tapering off with this method also reduces the risk of withdrawal and cravings. MAT uses medication that help manage cravings, like Suboxone® , to help patients normalize their opioid use with minimal disruption. Suboxone is a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone, and it works by binding to the brain’s opioid receptors without triggering their more habit-forming effects (important safety information).

Tapering off also helps patients develop healthy lifestyles and habits safely and over long periods, which aids in long-term success. When something stressful inevitably happens in life, having gone through a rigorous treatment program often means a person is better equipped to handle the situation and less likely to relapse.

3. Forget about willpower

While many prevailing narratives about substance use disorders paint them as personal problems or moral failures, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Addictions of all sorts are medical problems, and they demand medical solutions. Suboxone and similar medications are considered the gold standard of care for opioid addiction treatment because they work within the brain, addressing the physical components of addiction. 

Anyone who tells you that willpower alone is the key to quitting is ignoring the fundamental ways that dependency and addiction act on and change the human brain. 

4. Ensure you have the right support team

Medical treatment for opioid addiction is a major step in the recovery process, but studies show that a patient’s social life also changes their odds of success. Being around people who support and exhibit healthy behaviors can help you change your behaviors, and being around people who enable or participate in opioid use during recovery can make things much harder. Finding a social circle that supports you can make all the difference during treatment, but it isn’t necessarily easy. You may need to make hard decisions about who in your life wants the best for you and who harms your odds of success.

Having a supportive social circle doesn’t just apply to family and friends, either. It also means choosing the right medical professionals to guide you on this journey. If possible, you should meet with potential medical teams, learn about their treatment programs, and determine who you get along with best and feel best supported by.

5. Develop a self-care routine

Opioid treatment is a long process, and it’s important to take care of yourself. Nurturing your mind and body through intentional self-care will help you feel even better on the good days, and it will make the bad days just a little bit more manageable. Start with the basics. Prioritize getting lots of good sleep, eating healthy, exercising regularly, and socializing and building new social connections.

Caring for yourself in these ways will help alleviate stress, avoid illnesses like colds, improve energy levels, lift your mood, and manage anxiety. The latter is particularly important during opioid recovery because long-term opioid use can exacerbate or even cause anxiety

All these small benefits to your physical and mental health add up quickly, but that’s not the only reason to stick to a solid self-care routine. Having a healthy routine during recovery builds a precedent for how to lead your life as you progress. If you’re already in the habit of sleeping and eating well, exercising, practicing mindfulness, and staying connected with your social circles during the challenging periods of recovery, it will be that much easier to keep up these habits as your recovery proceeds into the later stages.

These good habits will feel normal and mundane eventually, so that sticking to them will feel natural by the time you transition from supervised recovery to a self-lead routine.  

Year-round support for opioid treatment

If you’re ready to make OUD a thing of the past, Ophelia is ready to help. Our care teams create personalized plans that keep patients on track. We get to know your unique needs, goals, and lifestyle to ensure you get the comprehensive care you deserve. Learn more about our approach to opioid treatment, including Suboxone and other buprenorphine-naloxone medications, and how it can fit into your new year’s resolution.


Treatment that works is right at your fingertips.

Get started