Table of Contents
Opioid addiction, either to prescription pain medication or opiates like heroin, is a devastating epidemic that is sweeping the country. In the past decade, the number of people addicted to opioids has risen, the number of overdoses has grown, and the death toll is substantial.
You are not fighting this fight alone. Right Path Addiction Treatment Centers provide caring, professional guidance to help those struggling with opioid dependence break free from the chains of addiction.
At Right Path Addiction Treatment Centers, we use medication-assisted therapy to subdue and reduce withdrawal symptoms, behavioral therapy to understand the causes of addiction, and support to help our patients maintain a successful substance-free life.
With the right treatment and support, you can overcome your addiction and lead a normal life.
Opioids at a Glance
This class of drugs includes heroin, prescription painkillers such as morphine, codeine, and oxycontin, and synthetic opiates such as fentanyl. Opioids are highly addictive and used to treat pain. They block pain receptors from conveying neural information from the brain to the body.
Opioids come from the opium poppy plant and produce a euphoric feeling. Other side effects of opioid use are drowsiness, slowed breathing, nausea, constipation, and confusion.
Opioids bind to opioid receptors in the brain, spinal column, and other organs. Opioids then prohibit pain receptors from traveling freely and release dopamine loads into the body, which makes the user feel very good. This euphoric feeling also reinforces the need for more opiates.
Many people begin to use opioids due to an accident or illness, after which a doctor prescribes them an opiate-based medication. In many instances in the past, doctors and dentists were writing opioid prescriptions for 30 or more pills after simple procedures.
Research shows that taking opioid medications for 3-5 days significantly increases the risk of a person becoming dependent on opioids.
Inevitably, these prescriptions run out, leaving those with new opioid addictions struggling with their dependence and fighting withdrawal symptoms. In some cases, addicts who no longer have a prescription for opioids take matters into their own hands and seek out opioids in other forms, like heroin or street fentanyl.
While heroin used to be a so-called “last resort” for serious addiction, heroin is significantly cheaper and easier to obtain than prescription opioids. Some cities have reported drug dealers offering free samples of heroin to draw in new customers. In many areas, heroin is cheaper than a pack of cigarettes.
Opioid Use Disorder
Opioids can be used in pill form or crushed to snort or inject. If you or a loved one takes more than what you’re prescribed, someone else’s medicine, or are only taking the medication to get the “high” feeling; you may have an addiction issue.
The risks of respiratory depression, which refers to the slowing or even cessation of breathing, increase if you have never taken an opioid before or you are on other medications. A significant concern of respiratory depression is that it may lead to hypoxia, a condition in which the brain receives inadequate amounts of oxygen.
If a mother uses opioids while pregnant, her newborn may be addicted to opiates and display withdrawal symptoms soon after it is born.
Facts and Figures
The number of deaths attributed to the opioid epidemic is gradually falling, but in 2018, it was still four times the death toll in 1999. Although some of the numbers are decreasing, deaths attributed to synthetic opioids like fentanyl rose 10% from 2017 to 2018
Beginning in 1999 until 2018, there were three waves of opioids and consequent addiction and overdoses, culminating in 450,000 deaths due to opioid abuse. The first wave involved a rise in the availability of prescription pain medications like oxycodone. The second wave began in 2010 and centered around heroin, and the third and most recent wave concerned synthetic opioids like fentanyl.
The most recent numbers are still troubling. Prescription painkillers, in particular, are a significant factor in the opioid epidemic. In 2017, more than 18 million people misused opiate prescriptions. Every day, more than 1,000 people are treated in emergency rooms for opioid-related issues.
Opioid addiction, abuse, and overdose are very real and frightening conditions. However, there is help. With advances in medical technology and addiction counseling, more people are breaking the chains of their addiction.
The ultimate goal for anyone facing addiction to opioids is to get sober, stay sober, and get their life back in order. Many old standards were not helping opiate addicts, and some treatments were not even available to most addicted opioid users.
Right Path Addiction Treatment Centers have developed a highly successful, three-part program that combines medication, behavioral therapy, and a reliable support system to lead addicts towards sobriety and a happier, more stable lifestyle.
Physical symptoms of opioid withdrawal include tremors, vomiting, full-body aches, bone pain, respiratory issues, diarrhea, severe gastrointestinal pain, and other terrible side effects. Opioids block pain and increase dopamine, the pleasure neurotransmitter. When opiates are no longer blocking these pain receptors, the body once again feels pain and discomfort.
Clinicians use a scale called the Clinical Opiate Withdrawal Scale, or COWS, to judge how severe an addict’s withdrawal symptoms are, assessing 11 commonly-observed signs of withdrawal and gauging their severity.
Without the right guidance and medical attention, withdrawal symptoms can lead to relapse or even death. With the combination of supervised medication treatment, therapy, and support, an addict has a fighting chance of getting their life back in order.
MAT is the most successful therapy for getting addicts off opiates. Withdrawal symptoms can be severe and even lead to the user’s death if not properly managed. Doctors and clinicians have found success using medications to reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms.
Medical professionals use three distinct medications to help a user wean off of an opiate.
This medication can reduce the severity of a patient’s withdrawal symptoms by 50% to 75%. It is used in clinical settings, and the patient is strictly observed for any signs of a decrease in blood pressure.
This medication combines a milder opioid – buprenorphine – with an opioid blocker – naloxone. Suboxone cannot be injected, is only mildly (compared to highly) addictive, and can shorten the length and intensity of detoxification.
A powerful opioid, this medication can be used for long-term maintenance. There is still a chance that the addict might become addicted to methadone, so the dosage and frequency of doses are intensely managed. It is also more dangerous than other MAT options. Methadone overdose accounted for 22.9% of opioid-related deaths in 2014.
Right Path Addiction Treatment Centers also offer the first, FDA.-approved probuphine implant for long-term treatment of opioid dependence.
Once the patient has successfully withdrawn from opioids, the real work begins. For many addicts, they abuse illicit substances to distract them from more troubling memories or traumas, and to numb themselves. Pain sets in once the substance is no longer numbing them to reality.
In addiction treatment, the long-term goal is a sober, stable life without reliance on drugs or alcohol. The only way to reach this goal is through behavioral therapy, to discern where the damage occurred and to attempt to accept it and heal from it.
Right Path Addiction Treatment Centers offer a wide array of therapies because we know that not every treatment is right for every patient. There are 12-step programs that follow a traditional model, group therapy, couples’ therapy, family therapy, and one-on-one sessions.
Counseling helps patients deal with mental, emotional, and social issues that may be holding them back. These can include feelings of self-worth, stressful situations in childhood or at home, and an environment involving people who habitually use and abuse drugs or alcohol.
Therapy plays a crucial role in allowing the addict to understand why they began abusing opiates in the first place. Once that understanding takes place, healing can begin. Through counseling, a patient can come to a new understanding of themselves, where they came from, and how they interact with the world around them.
In addition to MAT treatment and counseling, the newly sober patient must learn to rebuild relationships with loved ones, family, and friends. At Right Path Addiction Treatment Centers, we can help you navigate this often complex and painful process.
Once you are released from treatment, and for those in outpatient treatment, ongoing support and therapy are necessary to bolster the lifestyle changes you’ve committed to make in your life.
A Word About Relapse
Often, a former addict backslides and returns to their drugs or partakes in a mind-altering substance. This is called a relapse. A relapse might be as small as taking a sip of wine at a toast or accepting an offered drug. It may also be more substantial, such as the former addict actively searching out drugs or alcohol to abuse them.
What’s vital about relapses is to remember that almost every addict has a relapse in their journey. A relapse does not mean failure; it offers an opportunity to recenter and realign your expectations and aims.
A relapse should be considered a momentary set-back on a long and arduous journey. The most important part is to keep walking on the right path.
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction issues due to opioid abuse, there is hope. With an exceptional three-part program combining MAT, a wide range of therapies, and support, our patients can reach their goals of living sober, fulfilling lives without dependence on opiates.
It’s never too late. If you’ve read this far, you’ve made an important first step away from the bonds of addiction and towards freedom. Call us today. All calls are strictly confidential.