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Opiate Addiction – What You Need to Know and What are the Opiate Treatment Options

Opiates are a class of drugs that include both legal drugs like fentanyl, morphine, and codeine, as well as illegal drugs such as opium and heroin. Opiates are often prescribed by doctors to alleviate pain considering that it changes how the brain responds to pain. Unfortunately, a lot of people abuse these drugs because of its pleasurable effect to the point that the person becomes completely addicted to opiates.

According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, about 2 million Americans age 12 and older suffer from opioid or opiate addiction. While the number may seem relatively small compared with other forms of substance use disorder, opiate addiction is a cause for concern since it is apparently driving the drug overdose epidemic in the United States. Statistics show that over 33,000 overdose deaths in 2015 were related to prescription pain relievers and heroin.

Signs and Symptoms of Opiate Addiction

Considering the seriousness of opiate addiction, people who are currently taking prescription opiate drugs for medical reasons should be wary of the following signs and symptoms of addiction so that they can readily seek professional help:

Effects of Opiate Addiction

Opiates cause the brain to release dopamine, which is a neurochemical that creates feelings of pleasure. This is the reason why people readily get hooked on opiates as its short-term effects include relief from pain and anxiety as well as feelings of euphoria and relaxation. It is important to note, however, that these effects are merely temporary. The moment one abuses the use of opiate drugs, he or she will eventually suffer from negative long-term effects such as the following:

Factors to Consider When Getting Any Opiate Treatment Options

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If you find yourself struggling with opiate addiction, it is imperative that you seek treatment immediately. Getting professional help will not only help you address your addiction but prevent long-term harmful effects of opioid misuse.

Note that the kind of treatment program you will receive will largely depend on the severity of your addiction, the level of opiate use, the length of time you have been addicted to opiates, the method of opiate use, whether you have sought opiate treatment options in the past, and other medical conditions you may have.

To get the best possible care, you need to find a reputable addiction rehab facility. Here are some of the factors you need to consider in selecting the most suitable treatment facility:

  •  Experience and Reputation in the Industry – The addiction rehab center should be well-known and have a reputation for extending high-quality treatment services. It is best to check how long they have been providing substance abuse treatment and if they are recognized by relevant government institutions.

  • Accreditation – It helps if you the facility you are eyeing has received accreditation from institutions that care deeply about outstanding practice, patient-care, and high-quality facilities.

  • Credentials of Treatment Staff – Make sure that the rehab center has full-time staff with appropriate addiction counseling credentials and state licenses.

  • Treatment Offering – One of the most important marks of a high-quality treatment facility is that they provide patient-specific treatment and not a “one-size-fits-all” approach.

  • Policy on the Involvement of Family or Significant Others – Considering that opiate addiction affects and hurts not only the drug-dependent but his family as well, a good treatment facility recognizes this fact, thereby involving the patient’s family in the treatment program.

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What to Expect in Opiate Addiction Treatment

The moment you set foot inside an addiction treatment facility you will go through an assessment process. This usually involves a face-to-face interview, administration of psychological tests, and conduct of relevant medical or laboratory exams.

Once the assessmentprocess is done, the treatment specialist will then work with you to come up with the most suitable addiction treatment plan that will address your recovery needs. The opiate treatment options plan usually involves the following rehab strategies:

  • Opiate detoxification

  • Medications

  • Evidenced-based behavioral therapies

  • Holistic methods

  • Aftercare treatment

Opiate Detoxification

Note that when you abuse opiates or certain drugs, your body becomes physically dependent on the substance. This means that your body is somehow conditioned that it will not be able to function if you will not take the drugs. This is the reason why your body will experience withdrawal symptoms such as muscle aches, agitation, anxiety, excessive yawning, palpitations, sweating, hypertension, fever, nausea, depression, diarrhea, stomachache, and drug cravings the moment you stop taking drugs.

Considering this physical dependence, the first step in opiate addiction treatment as with other forms of substance abuse is the detoxification process. This process involves ridding the body of all toxins and traces of drugs while managing the painful symptoms of withdrawal.

 Evidence-Based Behavioral Treatments for Opiate Addiction

Behavioral therapies have been found to assist recovering addicts in modifying their attitudes and behaviors in relation to their drug use, increasing healthy life skills, and persisting in their treatment. Some of the most strongly supported therapies include:

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)

This type of therapy helps recovering addicts to overcome substance abuse disorder by teaching them to recognize and avoid negative and self-defeating thought patterns and behavior.

Contingency management

This method is carried out by providing tangible incentives (e.g. cash, restaurant vouchers, clinical privileges) to patients to encourage them to avoid taking drugs. While this may seem trivial, studies have shown that a carefully structured contingency management programs are effective in helping people attain long-term sobriety.

Motivational interviewing

This treatment strategy uses structured conversations to increase the motivation of the recovering addict to overcome opiate addiction.

Holistic Treatments for Opiate Addiction

Another important component of opiate addiction rehab program is holistic treatments, which are therapeutic strategies that take into account the whole person – physical, mental, psychological, and spiritual. Holistic treatments aim to significantly address the following:

  1. Discomforting symptoms of addiction and withdrawal

  2. The possible emotional imbalance that can lead to addiction

  3. The absence of spiritual grounding that makes the euphoric effect of drugs more desirable

  4. Unhealthy eating habits that can lead to neurochemical imbalance

  5. Environmental toxins that cause a need for a substance that gets out of control.

Some of the more popular forms of holistic treatments include the following:

  • Nutritional Therapy

  • Acupuncture

  • Massage

  • Yoga and Meditation

  • Biofeedback and Neurofeedback

  • Exercise and Recreational Therapies (e.g. hiking, gardening, rock-climbing, horseback riding, etc.)

Aftercare Treatment for Opiate Addiction

Aftercare or extended treatment is a necessary component of an opiate addiction recovery plan, especially once the formal treatment in a rehab facility is over. It is important to note that addiction is a chronic disease, which means the possibility of relapse is high. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the relapse rate for substance abuse disorder is similar to that of well-understood chronic medical diseases such as diabetes, asthma, and hypertension.

Popular aftercare options for opiate addicts include:

  • Booster sessions – sessions offered by rehab facilities for their former patients to help them remain committed to achieving long-term sobriety.

  • Support groups – these groups provide support after treatment and help strengthen the resolve of the recovering addict to stay drug-free.

  • Sober living homes – SLHs are drug and alcohol-free residences where recovering addicts can live after rehab so that it would be easier for them to adjust later.

Important Points to Remember in Opiate Addiction Treatment

If you are suffering from opiate addiction, there are important points that you need to remember when getting any of the opiate treatment options:

  • Opiate addiction is treatable, but the process is not easy.

  • Addiction specialists, counselors, and therapists are there to help you recover from substance abuse disorder; they are not your enemies.

  • Make sure to stay in treatment.

  • Cooperate and actively participate in your treatment plan.

  • Be patient and always remember the reasons why you are seeking treatment.

Medication Assisted Treatment for Opiate Addiction

Medications such as buprenorphine, methadone, and naltrexone can significantly help in the treatment of opiate addiction. Including medication in the treatment plan has been found to significantly lessen opioid use and increase social functioning and retention in treatment.

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