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Opioid Addiction Treatment

Opioids are highly addictive and deadly substances that are responsible for claiming the lives of hundreds of Americans each day. Due to this, controversy constantly surrounds pharmaceutical companies and healthcare providers opioid-prescribing practices. However, millions are still left suffering from the effects of opioid abuse. Whether it’s a prescription or illicit drugs, substance abuse of any kind causes a variety of issues. For example, individuals suffering from opioid addiction often deal with negative financial, legal, social, and health effects.

Opioid addiction is extremely difficult to endure. Similarly, recovery from an addiction to opioids can be a harrowing task. However, people get sober from opioid addiction every day. The recovery process begins with opioid detox. Opioid detox is an uncomfortable process due to the presence of withdrawal symptoms. Fortunately, opioid detox programs are equipped to deal with and manage symptoms of opioid withdrawal. This allows individuals to move onto the next phase of recovery. First, let’s look into what opioids are, what addiction looks like, and how a comprehensive addiction treatment program can help.

What Are Opioids?

Opioids are a group of drugs known for their pain-relieving properties. While they are widely used in the medical field, the drugs are highly addictive. In fact, opioids are responsible for nearly 128 overdose deaths every day. Opioids bind to opioid receptors in the brain to alleviate pain or discomfort. However, when taken in high doses, they produce feelings of well-being and euphoria. In other words, opioids have the ability to produce an addictive high.

There are two types of opioids: synthetic opioids and naturally occurring ones. Most people distinguish between these types of opioids as a prescription or illicit drug. Each opioid drug varies in strength and composition.

Prescription Opioids

Opioids are used medicinally as painkillers. While many painkillers are sold over-the-counter, opioid painkillers are prescription only. To explain, opioid painkillers block nerves from transmitting pain signals to your brain. As a result, the body feels pleasure and comfort instead of pain. Prescription opioid drugs are used to treat pain after surgery, accidents, or chronic pain. Common prescription painkillers include:

  • Codeine
  • Hydrocodone (Vicodin)
  • Hydromorphone (Dilaudid)
  • Meperidine (Demerol)
  • Morphine
  • Oxycodone
  • Fentanyl

Long-term use of prescription opioids increases the risk of an individual developing a dependency. However, not all people who develop physical dependency are addicted. Doctors may be able to help patients wean themselves off of prescription painkillers. In other instances, people become dependent to opioids and continue to abuse them. This leads to addiction.

Illicit Opioids

Prescription opioids are illegal if abused, bought on the street, or given away to people the prescription is not meant for. However, the most commonly abused illegal opioids are heroin and fentanyl. While fentanyl is the strongest prescription opioid, street dealers are beginning to manufacture and sell the drug. Fentanyl is dangerous because it is hundreds of times more powerful than other opioids. When fentanyl is used illicitly, individuals can not safely monitor how much they have taken. Due to this, many individuals overdose on fentanyl.

The Opioid Crisis

Recently, widespread opioid abuse has dominated news headlines. Additionally, various pharmaceutical companies and doctors have faced legal issues surrounding opioid prescribing practices. Today, the opioid crisis is considered a public health emergency. The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that:

  • Approximately 2.5 million Americans are battling opioid use disorder
  • 46,802 people died of an opioid-related overdose in 2018
  • The use of opioids increases the risk of HIV, Hepatitis C, and other bloodborne illnesses
  • Between 21-29% of people with chronic pain abuse their prescription opioids
  • Between 4-6% of people who abuse prescription opioids end up using heroin
  • The opioid crisis carries a yearly economic burden of $78.5 billion
  • The number of young people seeking help for opioid addiction has increased in the previous years

Opioid abuse has become widespread and often leads to a fatal overdose. Due to this, it’s important to recognize the signs and symptoms of opioid addiction. As a result, those who are suffering can get the help they need. If you or a loved one suffer from opioid addiction, it is time to attend a professional detox program.

Signs of Opioid Addiction

Each opioid may be abused in a different manner. For example, opioids may be smoked, snorted, injected, or swallowed. In addition, each opioid has a different potency and half-life. The common signs that someone is under the influence of an opioid include:

  • Increased itching
  • Flushed, clammy, or pale skin
  • Constricted or pinpoint pupils
  • Slowed breathing and heart rate
  • Decreased reaction time
  • Constipation
  • Drowsiness or confusion
  • Trouble staying awake
  • Nausea or vomiting

Sadly, opioids are widely known for the fatal overdoses they cause. Despite this, people still abuse them. Additionally, many individuals take too high of a dose, resulting in an opioid overdose. The common signs of opioid overdose include:

  • Gurgling sounds
  • Shallow breathing
  • No breathing or detectable heartbeat
  • Limp body
  • Pale, blue, or cold skin
  • Loss of consciousness

In the event of an overdose, bystanders should call 911 immediately.  If possible, administer Narcan while following the opioid overdose guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Individuals who abuse opioids over a period of time will become physically and mentally addicted.  Opioid addiction is medically diagnosed as opioid use disorder. To explain, both an addiction and opioid use disorder are characterized by compulsive and dangerous drug-seeking behaviors. Signs that someone is addicted to opioids include:

  • Inability to control how many opioids you use and to stop using them
  • Craving more of the drug
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you don’t take the drug
  • Changes in behavior such as sleeping habits, eating habits, socializing, and keeping up with obligations/responsibilities
  • Financial issues
  • Risky behaviors
  • Isolating from friends and family
  • Decreased libido

Unfortunately, individuals should never attempt to quit opioids on their own. Opioid addiction causes severe symptoms of withdrawal when an individual ceases use. Due to this, individuals addicted to opioids should seek professional opioid detox.

Opioid Withdrawal and Medically Assisted Detox

Individuals addicted to opioids will experience withdrawal symptoms if they quit using it suddenly. Oftentimes, individuals experience withdrawals after one week of taking the substance. Additionally, opioids affect the central nervous system. Therefore, opioid addiction affects nearly every part of the body.

Most symptoms begin within the first 24 hours of not taking opioids. Next, the symptoms will peak after two days. Typically, withdrawal symptoms subside after one week. Despite the quick process, opioid withdrawal is far from painless. The flu-like symptoms and incessant cravings for more opioids are difficult to deal with. However, with medical care, opioid withdrawal symptoms can be lessened and managed.

Symptoms of opioid withdrawal include:

  • Muscle aches
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Restlessness
  • Overactive tear ducts
  • Runny nose
  • Sweating
  • Insomnia
  • Excessive yawning
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Goosebumps
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dilated pupils
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • High blood pressure

First, individuals suffering from opioid addiction must participate in a medically-assisted detox program. Medically-assisted detox programs consist of pharmacotherapy and medical supervision. Due to this, withdrawal symptoms are alleviated and drug cravings are reduced. In addition, this makes for a more comfortable and safe detox process.

Opioid Addiction Treatment

Drug rehab programs are intended to help patients heal from the underlying causes and conditions of their substance abuse. Some individuals require drug addiction treatment after abusing opioids for only a couple of months. On the other hand, some patients may have suffered from opioid addiction for five years. Either way, recovery from opioid addiction requires professional detox and individualized treatment programs.

Medication-Assisted Treatment

To begin, opioids chemically and structurally change the brain. As a result, it is difficult to stay sober without cravings or relapse. Currently, the FDA has approved medications like buprenorphine, methadone, and naltrexone to help people who are addicted to opioids. These medications allow individuals to avoid cravings and even alleviate symptoms of withdrawal during detox. Common medications used in medication-assisted treatment (MAT) include:

  • Subutex
  • Suboxone
  • Sublocade
  • Vivitrol
  • Naltrexone
  • Methadone

Fortunately, these substances help alleviate cravings and reduce withdrawal symptoms. However, medication alone doesn’t cure addiction. Due to this, medication-assisted treatment requires patients to participate in a comprehensive drug rehab program. Patients may start taking these medications during drug detox and remain on them for varying lengths of time. Ultimately, the goal is to wean patients off of these medications when they are able to sustain sobriety on their own.

Inpatient/Outpatient Drug Rehab

After completing detox, individuals should attend an inpatient or outpatient rehab program. Sometimes, individuals attend detox, inpatient rehab, and outpatient programming one after another. Whether you choose inpatient or outpatient drug rehab, you will receive the same forms of therapy. For example, these programs include behavioral therapy, counseling, relapse prevention, support groups, pharmacotherapy, and more. Luckily, therapy helps people learn how to stay sober in the long run. For example, behavioral therapy helps patients identify unhealthy behaviors, work through trauma, and learn new coping mechanisms.

Depending on a person’s needs, individuals may attend inpatient or outpatient rehab. On the other hand, some people attend both programs. Both programs provide intensive treatment for opioid addiction using the following types of treatments:

  • Behavioral therapy
  • Mental health counseling
  • Family therapy
  • Individual therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Holistic therapy
  • Experiential therapy
  • Adventure therapy
  • 12-Step facilitation
  • Trauma-informed care
  • Alumni programs

After completing an opioid rehab program, individuals are encouraged to receive aftercare. Moreover, this allows individuals to continue treating their addictions. After all, addiction is not a curable disease. However, addiction is managed through life-long work in addiction recovery.

Find Help For Opioid Addiction Today

If you’re abusing prescription or illicit opioids, seek help for opioid addiction today. Our addiction specialists at South Carolina Addiction Treatment Center can help. Above all, our overall goal is to provide patients with a strong foundation of recovery. In other words, we prioritize each patient’s safety, comfort, and success throughout the entire treatment process.

“At South Carolina Addiction Treatment, we know how scary it is to get sober. Not only is the thought of withdrawal dreadful, but the thought of addressing the underlying causes and conditions of your addiction can be scary. That’s why our opioid addiction specialists pride ourselves on providing compassionate and individualized care for addiction and co-occurring disorders.”

Contact us today to start your journey to recovery.