The United States has been experiencing an issue with opioid abuse that dates back to 1999 when it was first tracked. Since 1999, the cases dealing with this particular substance saw a steady increase. Realizing that you have an opioid addiction is the first step toward getting over it. Knowing that you are not alone may help you seek the assistance you need.
2018 was the first year in which a drop in overall drug overdose deaths was seen, which is good news. Fourteen states as well as the District of Columbia saw the rate of overdose deaths decrease. Nationally, in 2018, there were 67,367 drug overdose deaths, and opioids were involved in 46,802 of those deaths. According to the Centers for Disease Control, that was a decrease of 4.1% of deaths involving an opioid from 2017 to 2018.
This could partially be due to the wider availability of Naloxone. In emergency situations when a person stops breathing due to an opioid overdose, Naloxone can be dispensed by public centers and first responders. Initiatives in states such as Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New Hampshire, among others in the New England area, have developed programs to make these life-saving medications more readily available. This is not a treatment, but it is a way to prevent an overdose death.
Several opioid addiction treatments and rehab options are at your disposal. Let’s explore some as well as statistics to keep in mind.
What Are Opioids?
While opiates are derived from actual opium, opioids are a larger classification that includes synthetic drugs that act like opiates. Most opioids are classified as medication. Their purpose is to relieve pain. Many opioids are available as prescriptions, but some, such as heroin in the U.S., are deemed to have no medical use and so are not a medication and therefore not prescribed.
The most common prescription opioids are oxycodone (OxyContin), hydrocodone (Vicodin), and methadone. Fentanyl has proven to be the deadliest opioid when used outside of the medical environment. It is many times more powerful than other opioids. Although it is approved for treating severe pain like from cancer, when used illicitly, it easily leads to an overdose because it is so powerful.
What Is an Opioid Addiction?
The most common way an opioid addiction begins is through prescription pain-relieving medications. The current crisis is traced back to the mid-1990s when doctors began regularly prescribing these powerful pain-relieving medicines. Doctors prescribed them to their patients because they were confident the new medicine would simply alleviate ailments at a more efficient rate. By the time the medical community realized what was happening to their patients, it was too late. Pandora was essentially out of the box.
A patient is given an opioid prescription so that the discomfort becomes bearable while an injury heals. The potency of opioids, however, can lead to an addiction to the euphoria caused by the prescription. Patients were unaware of the danger. There was no reason for an individual to question their doctor. So, while the patient was healing from their injury or pain, the new opioid prescriptions were changing the wiring in the person’s brain.
When the doctor discontinued the prescription due to healing of the original condition, the patient was left wanting more medicine. According to the Society of Addiction Medicine, opioids interact with your brain and nervous system on a chemical level. Pain relief medicine is supposed to help you deal with pain as well as provide a pleasurable feeling so that you can get through the healing process. Opioids work too well at providing the pleasurable feeling part.
With opioid addiction, it’s not about healing from the original pain, but instead, it becomes a pathological obsession to chase the euphoria the individual once found in the drug and to avoid the pain of withdrawal. Medical professionals at the ASAM and other organizations have found that this is a chronic condition prone to relapse.
The good news is that it is possible to recover from an opioid addiction. There are programs and medications available to help those struggling with substance use disorder. Freedom from addiction can happen.
Medicines Used to Treat Opioid Addiction
Physical withdrawal from opioids by someone who is physically addicted can be dangerous. Often, medical intervention is necessary. While many people with an opioid addiction end up in the emergency room, the ER is not equipped to handle the withdrawal. For opioids, it can take months or years for the individual to completely be free of the chemical dependency.
That is where treatment facilities and programs come in. Since opioid addiction changes the wiring of a person’s brain and central nervous system, asking a patient to quit cold turkey is difficult mostly because it is not safe. Quitting a substance as powerful as an opioid is a shock to the system.
The medical field has begun to treat opioid addiction as a disease that is chronic. Under the direction of a doctor trained in treating addiction, medications can be used to assist with the withdrawal from and treatment of opioid addiction. Primary medications used for this purpose include:
Methadone is dispensed in a controlled environment. It is usually coupled with counseling. The goal is to switch a patient from the opioid to this medicine and then wean the patient off methadone. During recovery, a patient is going to experience withdrawal and cravings. The medical community believes that administering methadone is safer than asking the patient to go cold turkey.
Buprenorphine helps relieve opioid cravings, too. This medicine is administered once a month by shot or in daily doses under the tongue.
Both methadone and buprenorphine are medicines that activate the opioid receptors to suppress cravings. Although they have side effects, both are considered safe ways to help a patient beat their addiction. They are a part of what is known as maintenance treatment.
Naltrexone is different from the previous medicines. Instead of turning on the opioid receptors, it shuts off the euphoric effects. It is taken orally or as an injection once a month. The only requirement to get started on this medicine is a detox. There can be no traces of opioids in the patient’s body before getting started.
When a doctor administers a medicine and then gradually lowers the dose to help a patient recover from their opioid addiction, the method they use is called tapering. The medical community has a flow chart that indicates every factor to be taken into consideration during this treatment. Once a patient begins treatment, they are assessed at regular intervals. A doctor must consider the risks and benefits of lowering the dose on a quarterly basis. Based on the risks and benefits, a rehab professional determines the best next step for their patient.
Can Opioid Treatment Succeed?
The success of opioid addiction treatment is determined by the patient. Getting into the right program is a good start. Then, it is up to the patient to follow through on their commitment. Professionals in the rehabilitation field understand that recovery is a tough road. There are several feelings and emotions that are going to pull a patient in one direction or another. Opioid addiction is no small thing. Overcoming it takes a full support system and dedication.
Where to Get Help
There are public and private rehabilitation options. Public rehab facilities do their best to help the community’s residents get back on their feet. However, a public facility has limited resources because they are tasked with the duty of helping as many from the community as possible. They usually offer outpatient treatment or a 30-day inpatient program, but they might not be able to offer longer-term treatment options.
Private opioid addiction treatment and rehab options may be more desirable. Granite Recovery Centers, for example, has several locations throughout the New England area. This allows a patient to pick the center that suits their needs best. There is a variety of amenities offered. The locations are serene, secluded, and relaxed. A private center has the ability to schedule a skilled staff around the clock. If you are going to detox on-site, you can rest assured that you will be watched and supported in case your withdrawal symptoms become difficult.
One facility in the Granite Recovery Centers network is Green Mountain Treatment Center in New Hampshire. At this location, patients can enjoy panoramic views of the White Mountains and the Lakes Region. The purpose of placing a rehab center in this type of environment is to help each patient relax. All distractions are removed so that you can focus on your detox and recovery. This serene backdrop is therapeutic to help patients remain calm.
The medical community has learned a lot about opioid addiction. They now have decades of data and studies that guide them. The staff at a recovery center is aware that a patient may be dealing with more than an opioid addiction. Co-occurring conditions are very common. Patients who have an addiction often suffer from a mental illness, too. Therefore, the addiction and mental health issue have to be addressed simultaneously.
Some amenities you can expect from a Granite Recovery Centers private rehab facility are:
- Chef-prepared meals
- On-site gym
Treatment options include:
- Medical detox
- Gender separate programs
- Evidence-based clinical treatment
- 12-step curriculum
- Full continuum of care
A patient enters rehab to get past their addiction, and a treatment center’s mission is to help patients recover. First, a full diagnosis is made. Then, based on their findings, the experienced staff puts together a personalized treatment plan. The plan may include holistic therapies, classes, and counseling. If you are going to be administered medicine, it will be included in the treatment plan. Having a detailed plan allows the staff to track your progress. If your program is working as expected, you stay on that path until your date to leave arrives. When adjustments need to be made, they are.
Inpatient vs. Outpatient Treatment
If the addiction is severe, inpatient treatment may be a great choice. You are taken out of your environment and placed in one that maximizes your ability to succeed.
If you don’t need a medically supervised detox and you have a strong support system, an outpatient program may be a viable option. A series of appointments are scheduled for you ahead of time, and you are expected to attend each one. Your medicine, if needed, is also prescribed to you. Your progress is monitored at each session. If adjustments have to be made to your outpatient program, you can discuss that with your rehab professional.
Support groups and therapy sessions are usually offered in both inpatient and outpatient programs. Each program offers its own set of benefits. It’s important to find the right program that will work for your unique circumstances.
The detox and recovery programs at Green Mountain Treatment Center are inpatient. It is a residential primary drug rehab program that accommodates both men and women in separate quarters and programs. Patients undergo their program in a clinical setting. The belief is that treating the addiction alone is not enough. A focus is placed on discovering the root of the addiction. Addiction can be caused by peer pressure or trauma. Some patients hide things about their past for a number of reasons.
It is the job of the trained professional at the center to uncover those things. Then, by dealing with them in therapy sessions as well as group and individual counseling meetings, you move past it. Once you make progress, you learn the tools that will help you cope when you return to your home. Cognitive behavioral therapy emphasizes long-term treatment to prevent relapse. It teaches a patient to anticipate triggering situations and how to deal with them. For opioid recovery, contingency management is another option.
The thing to remember is that substance use disorder is a treatable disease, and it is possible to recover. Opioid addiction treatment options are available to help. You can start your journey to a new life today.