What You Need to Know About Treating Opiate Addiction

By | October 30, 2018

Please Note: This article is presented for informational purposes only and is not meant to diagnose or treat any illness. If you have any health concern, see a licensed healthcare professional in person.

Opiate addiction is a serious national crisis. 115 people die in the United States every day from overdosing on opioids and it’s causing the country $ 78.5 billion a year in healthcare costs, addiction treatment, lost productivity and criminal justice involvement.

The bad news is, opiate addiction will take more lives every day without proper treatment. The good news is, it can be treated. Yes, it is possible to quit opiates with these treatments:

First, what is opiate addiction?

Opiates are a group of drugs that are prescribed for treating pain. They include morphine, codeine, heroin, and fentanyl. But while opiates are legal drugs, some people develop tolerance after using them for a long time and will start to feel the need for a bigger dose to get the same effect. This is when opiate addiction starts. Anyone addicted to the drug may constantly think about getting more opiates not only for its pain-relieving effects but also because it can give him a sense of euphoria.

What are the symptoms of opiate withdrawal?

Once a person is addicted to opiates, quitting it may prove to be harder than expected. Long-term addiction affects different areas of the brain, which results in changes in mood and behavior. So, when the patient tries to quit the drug, withdrawal symptoms such as belly pain, nausea, and vomiting, agitation or severe bad moods, strong cravings for drugs and “cold turkey” or chills and goosebumps start to appear. These symptoms can last from hours to months; depending on the length of time the patient has been taking the drug.

What are the treatments for opiate addiction?

The most effective way to treat opiate addiction is to address it early. But this doesn’t happen very often because people suffering from addiction may be in denial and they have a hard time with withdrawal symptoms that relapse almost always happens. There are ways, however, to treat opiate addiction and if done right, they can help the patient get back to his quality of life:

The first step to treating opiate addiction is to get rid of the substance from the patient’s system, which is done through detox. Natural detox is a common choice, although it can be extremely difficult. In this method, the patient needs to find a safe environment away from his home to detox and fight the withdrawal symptoms. Support is extremely important at this stage because the addict will struggle and will need all the help to fight relapse. If he gets through the first ten days, he’ll most likely complete the detox.

In medical detox, a healthcare professional supervises the patient and uses hydration to flush out the opiate from the patient’s body a lot faster. Drugs like Methadone and Suboxone may also be used to help wean the patient while blocking brain receptors from the effects of the drug. This option, however, can be very dangerous because of its potential for overdose.

Rapid detox helps the addict get through the detox process with the help of non-opiate medications that will help him sleep. This detox lasts for seven days and will require support from family or friends while the patient sleeps.

Other detox options include taking Ibogaine, which resets and heals the areas of the brain affected by the opiate, and other alternative approaches that promises to help the patient get rid of opiates in his body.

  • Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT)

MAT provides a whole patient approach to treating addiction by combining medications with behavioral counseling. This method is proven to decrease opioid use, increase social functioning and gives the patient a better chance at staying in therapy and experience full recovery.

Recently, new treatments have been developed including vaccines that prevent opioids from reaching the brain and Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation, which is a non-invasive technique that stimulates the brain to treat opiate disorders. NIDA is also funding Reaching Justice-Involved Youth, a research program that helps identify the best strategies for improving the delivery of prevention and treatment for the youth.

In the end, treating opiate addiction boils down to the commitment of the addict to get his life back. With the help of these methods and the support of family and friends, anyone can win the fight against opiate addiction and enjoy a good quality of life.

This content is sponsored by Dylan Moran.

Photo by Max Sandelin on Unsplash


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