Opioid Addiction Treatment

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The opioid crisis is killing tens of thousands of people each year on the streets of America. Opiates are highly effective at changing the brain’s chemistry so that we think we cannot function normally without it. People do not even realize or care that they need help from an opioid addiction treatment center to prevent their own death and typically need intervention by a friend or family. The cravings of the physical dependency can feel like they are impossible to overcome, especially since addiction is considered a chronic disease as it changes the user’s neurological responses. Those who continue to use opioid painkillers despite the dangers in which they find themselves will find the most success if they seek treatment at an opiate addiction facility that is specifically designed for that purpose. With drug overdoses being the leading cause of accidental death in America, finding effective help is crucial to recovery.

What are opiates and opioids?

Opiates can be derived from the poppy plant or they can be synthetically created in a lab setting. They are initially prescribed for pain, cough, or diarrhea; however, the way they change the chemistry of the brain and their calming affects are so appealing that people quickly become addicted. Almost 47,000 people died from an opioid overdose in 2018, and two out of three drug overdoses involved opioids. Even with these dismal statistics, it is never too late to overcome opiate addiction with treatments designed to help a user return to a productive life.

Opiates and opioids consist of minute differences and produce similar responses when they are ingested. People must learn to deal with emotional and physical obstacles throughout their life, which can be emotionally taxing. Millions of individuals look for the easiest way to avoid physical and emotional discomfort with the calming effects of drugs instead of developing healthy coping mechanisms. Even when used according to a physician’s instructions, opioids are highly addictive so must be used only for as long a necessary to avoid repercussions that are hard to resolve.

What is the opioid crisis?

Opium from the poppy plant was used to treat wounded soldiers in the 1860s, creating addictions, and in 1914, they were legally banned from being used recreationally. During the 1970s, the stigma of addiction led doctors to rely on nerve blocks and everything but prescription opioids. In the 1990s, drug companies assured medical professionals that opioids were not addictive, so doctors began prescribing these painkillers, or narcotics, to treat mild to severe pain of every kind. This was the beginning of the current opioid epidemic that runs rampant in the streets of America. At the time, an increase of 73% was seen in the prescribing of morphine, 96% for hydromorphone, 226% for fentanyl, and an astounding 402% increase in oxycodone prescriptions. In the mid-2000s, teens started stealing pain pills from their parents, creating its own set of issues. When the doctors stopped refilling the opioid after a reasonable surgical or injury recovery time, the patient who became addicted turned to the streets to find a source for the drugs.

The increase in prescription opioids created a string of overdoses. In 2014, there was another upward swing with the addition of illicitly manufactured synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl. Opioids, such as heroin, were being laced with fentanyl and sold to unsuspecting buyers who then took their normal dose and OD’d on the combination. Fentanyl is also an opioid that has been found added to not just heroin, but also counterfeit pills and cocaine. This creates a lethal product for those who inadvertently take it. As of 2017, the rate of overdoses from opioids is 142 each day. As of 2020, 70 million patients receive opioids for their post-surgical pain. There is an average of five million drug-related emergency room visits each year, and from 2002 to 2013, there was an increase of 286% seen in heroin overdose deaths.

What kinds of treatments are used to resolve opioid addictions?

It is difficult for someone to recognize their own addiction even when they are watching their partner walk out the door with their children or they wake up in their car because they just lost their house. Only 40% of patients in a facility admitted themselves. That means that the other 60% have been admitted due to either having recently overdosed, admitted by a court order, or have been found suffering from the effects of a dangerous withdrawal. If someone even realizes that they are addicted and wants help resolving their dependency, they most likely tried to quit on their own many times to no avail.

Inpatient opioid addiction treatment facilities that address the specific withdrawal symptoms and patterns associated with opioid usage can create the best success rates with the least number of relapses. They offer the highest level of care with medically assisted detox and round the clock support. The length of treatment depends on the following factors:

Every facility is different, but a good program will offer a combination of the following therapies for the best success rates. Using one therapy alone has never been found to be particularly effective, and this is a basic treatment plan of a good program:

What kinds of medications are used in MAT?

A host of prescription drugs can be used during detox and treatment that offer a vast array of benefits, including easing the discomfort and danger of withdrawal symptoms and the intensity of the cravings to use. Full agonists work on the opioid receptors so that if anyone abuses when they are on these drugs, they will not feel the high since there is no room for it to bind. What are the medications most commonly used?

Isn’t using medication to treat opioid addiction trading one drug for another?

No. People addicted to painkillers, heroin, oxy, percs, and other opioids will experience intense cravings and possibly life-threatening symptoms during withdrawal and recovery. To make it more bearable and increase the likelihood lasting sobriety, certain medications have proven themselves to have a high efficacy for treatment of opioid use disorders. Suboxone, methadone, and naloxone are used in MAT (medication-assisted therapy) and have been recognized as reducing:

These medications also increase the number of people who stay in treatment. Uneducated individuals wonder if using drugs to combat the effects of another drug are simply trading addictive chemicals. This is untrue as the dosage used does not get them “high”. In reality, they help to restore the brain’s balance from the changes made to it during the constant supply of the opiate. 

Knowing when to get help is half the battle. Admitting that you want help is also a difficult process. It isn’t that people would rather ruin the happiness that their lives once gave them, it is more that the drug has changed their brain so that they feel like they need it to function. They may have made the initial decision to experiment with the drug; however, there is a recognizable issue when they continue to use despite the harm it is causing in their lives, from financial ruin to the decline of familial relationships. No one wants to lose the people who have loved and supported them the most. Opioid addicts can obtain the help they so desperately need when they rely on the compassionate people at an opiate addiction treatment facility.

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