Opiate Addiction Treatment
Opiates, also commonly referred to as opioids, are a class of drugs derived from the opium poppy.
Despite their highly addictive properties, many opioids are in fact legal and come in the form of prescription medication. Some common prescription drugs that contain opioids include morphine, fentanyl, codeine, oxycodone (i.e. Oxycontin), and hydrocodone (i.e. Vicodin). Many of these medications are prescribed by healthcare professionals for pain relief. Other opiates, such as heroin, are illegal. When consumed in high doses, opiates can produce powerful highs which may temporarily relieve anxiety and produce an intense euphoric effect.
Given that some opiates are in fact legal, how do you know when opiates have become a problem?
Using opiates recreationally or in any way not prescribed by healthcare professionals can be considered abuse and could lead to an opioid overdose. When opiate use transforms into taking more medication than prescribed, negative emotional or physical side effects while not using the drug, a desire to keep using despite health complications, or an impact on relationships, employment, or quality of life, it may be time to consider treatment.
According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, an estimated 48 million people have abused prescription drugs. If you’re concerned about potential opiate abuse or addiction for you or a loved one, consider these warning signs:
- Using medication in any way not prescribed by a doctor
- An increased tolerance for the drug—needing more to get the same e!ects
- Going to multiple doctors for new prescriptions
- Putting yourself or others at risk while under the influence of opiates
- Trying to cut down or stop using opiates, but can’t
- Having symptoms of opiate withdrawal such as vomiting, tremors, insomnia, nausea, irritability, anxiety, or depression
- Excessive mood swings
- Stealing or selling prescriptions or engaging in illegal activities to pay for more opiates
- Lying about or becoming defensive when asked about opiate use
Long Term Effects of Opiate Abuse
In addition to the short-term health, financial, and familial problems that can occur due to opiate addiction, abuse of this drug can have several long-terms effects, as well. These may include:
- Liver damage
- Brain damage
- Abnormal pain sensitivity
- Increased risk of heart attack and heart infection
- Increased risk of HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C if injecting drug
- Hormonal dysfunction which may result in impotence and infertility
Opiate Addiction Treatment at Nexus
As drug addiction is classified as a chronic brain disease, it is best treated by healthcare professionals and therapists who specialize in addiction medicine and recovery.
At Nexus, our top-notch clinical team works together to create a customized treatment plan for each client, therefore providing the tools and support necessary for clients to achieve and maintain sobriety.
To ensure that our clients receive the most personalized care possible, we maintain a small client to clinician ratio. Our treatment team also takes client feedback into consideration while creating and updating their individualized treatment plan, and consistently engages in honest conversation in regards to each client’s progress in the recovery process.
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What are Opiates?
Opiates are a type of drug that is derived from the opium poppy flower. It is extracted from the seeds of the plant and used to treat pain.
Types of Opiates
Opiate and opioid are two terms used interchangeably, but more specifically, opiates are drugs derived from the poppy plant while opioids are synthetic drugs that produce a similar effect. Some of the most common opioids abused are prescription painkillers. Rates of painkiller prescriptions have skyrocketed in recent years, leading to staggering rates of addiction and overdose that continue to rise year after year. Some of the most common opioids include:
- Prescription painkillers
Opiates, also referred to as opioids, are the foundation of many prescription painkillers, but are also a staple ingredient in heroin.
Opioids are considered acceptable for treating specific conditions, but they can be highly addictive. When taken as prescribed, these medications can be incredibly effective, but misuse can put a person at risk for physical and psychological dependence.
What Does Opiate Addiction Entail?
Opioid addiction affects everyone differently and symptoms of addiction will range.
There are numerous physical, psychological, and social symptoms that may be observed in a person struggling with addiction. Some symptoms may include
- High sensitivity to pain
- Irregular breathing
- Severe weight loss
- Uncontrollable muscle jerking
- Itchy skin
- Increasing distance from friends and family
- Legal trouble
- Loss of motivation
- Changes in attitude, values, and perspective on life
Abuse of opiates is incredibly dangerous. Prolonged misuse of these drugs can lead to organ damage, heart attack, respiratory failure, stroke, coma, and death.
How is Opiate Addiction Treated?
As dangerous as abuse of the drug is, withdrawal can be equally risky. Symptoms can range from mild to severe making it critical to withdraw under the care of medical professionals.
Medications are often provided to ease symptoms of withdrawal and make the process as comfortable as possible. Symptoms of withdrawal make include:
- Abdominal cramps
The length of withdrawal can vary depending on individual circumstances. In most cases, withdrawal may last a couple of days to over a week. In some instances, withdrawal spanned over several months. Immediately following completion of detox, it is important for a person to transition directly into treatment to continue the recovery process.
During the first weeks without opioids, the body begins to stabilize and gradually returns to normal functioning. Treatment for opioid addiction can take some time and it is generally recommended that a person undergo inpatient, long-term treatment immediately following detox. This allows a person to dedicate themselves fully to their recovery and develop the life skills necessary to support sobriety.
Treatment does not end once the program is completed. Following the completion of rehab, many utilize the help of aftercare services to stay on track. Outpatient treatment, recovery groups, and continued therapy can help a person continue strengthening their sobriety.