Opioid use disorder, or opioid addiction, is a medical condition that can affect any race, gender, income level, or social class. Some people begin taking prescription opioids to manage pain after a surgery or injury. And some people begin taking them to manage chronic pain. No matter what the circumstance is, prescription opioids can be addictive and dangerous, but recovery is possible. Treatment can help people get their lives back before it’s too late. No single treatment method is right for everyone, but research shows that combining behavioral therapy with medications for opioid use disorder is the most effective approach for overcoming opioid addiction.
Read on to learn more about the opioid addiction epidemic and what YOU can do to get the help you need.
What are opioids?
Opioids, sometimes called narcotics, are a type of drug. They include strong prescription pain relievers, such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, fentanyl, and tramadol. The illegal drug heroin is also an opioid. A health care provider may give you a prescription opioid to reduce pain after you have had a major injury or surgery. You may get them if you have severe pain from health conditions like cancer. Some health care providers prescribe them for chronic pain. Prescription opioids used for pain relief are generally safe when taken for a short time and as prescribed by your healthcare provider. However, opioid misuse and addiction are still potential risks.
What is the best treatment for opioid addiction?
People have become addicted to opioids for centuries. However, opioid use has escalated since 2000 with the development and marketing of powerful painkillers that are highly addictive and carry an enormous risk of overdose. Prescription opioid painkiller addiction has a lot in common with heroin addiction, but there are important differences that influence the kind of treatment that will be most effective. Opioid addiction is one of the most challenging addictions to overcome. But there are treatment options available that can help with the physical, psychological, and social aspects of substance use disorders.
Evidence-Based Addiction Treatment
When considering addiction treatment, it’s important to establish that it’s evidence-based. This means that the treatment has been studied and shown to be effective for many people with the condition. If all of the physical, social, and mental health aspects of opioid addiction are not addressed, the treatment is not likely to be successful and the person may relapse. Therefore, these treatments should be part of a comprehensive treatment plan that is consistently followed before, during, and after the person quits opioids.
Which medication is frequently used to treat opioid addiction?
Methadone, when administered properly, is included in treatment with counseling. It is always provided in a clinic setting when used to treat opioid use disorder. It helps to relieve withdrawal and address cravings.
The medicine buprenorphine also relieves opioid cravings without giving the same high as other opioid drugs. Prescribed by many physicians from office settings, this is typically a daily dose placed under the tongue and also can be delivered as a once-a-month injection or through thin tubes that are inserted under the skin and that last six months.
These medicines both activate opioid receptors in the body that suppress cravings and are effective and similar in safety and side effects, and typically used for maintenance treatment. They also can be used to taper a person off of opioids. However, it is common for patients to relapse, and physicians must try something different with those patients who relapse several times. Patients who are highly motivated and have good social support have a tendency to do better with these therapies.
Naltrexone is a very different medicine and doesn’t turn the opioid receptor on, but instead blocks the euphoric/sedative effects of opioids. A patient’s system must be completely free of all opioids before beginning naltrexone. It can be taken orally or as a once-a-month injection.
Naloxone can be used in an emergency situation when respiratory arrest, due to an opioid overdose, has occurred or is imminent. Naloxone flushes out receptors and can reverse the overdose but is not a form of addiction treatment.
Talk with a doctor to find out what types of treatments are available in your area and what options are best for you. Addiction is a chronic, relapsing disease; be sure to ask your doctor about the risk of relapse and overdose.
How Successful is Opioid Addiction Treatment?
The success of therapy for substance use disorder varies by patient and by the severity of the disorder. And also can be influenced by complications of comorbidities, such as alcohol use or mental illness. Research has shown that there is a higher rate of substance use in patients with diagnoses such as depression and those who use other substances such as alcohol. Integrated treatment for both mental health and substance use disorders are needed in cases where these occur together. The environment and family or friend relationships can also play an important role. Some patients will repeat therapy and relapse many times before having success.
How to Encourage Someone to Seek Help for Opioid Addiction
With substance abuse, when patients are ready to deal with their issues they need an open door and help immediately. The person with an addictive disorder should want to participate in treatment. Navigating that change can be challenging for friends and family members. As with most other chronic diseases, addiction is treatable. If you or someone you know is struggling, treatment is available. While no single treatment method is right for everyone, recovery is possible, and help is available for opioid addiction.
Preventing overdose death and finding treatment options are the first steps to recovery. Treatment may save a life and can help people struggling with opioid addiction get their lives back on track by allowing them to counteract addiction’s powerful effects on their brain and behavior. The overall goal of treatment is to return people to productive functioning in their family, workplace, and community.
Managing Pain in Recovery
Most people experience some kind of pain during their lives. Pain serves an important purpose: it warns the body when it’s in danger. But ongoing pain causes distress and affects the quality of life. Pain is the number one reason people see a doctor. Providing pain control for the 5% to 17% of the U.S. population with a substance abuse disorder of some type presents primary care physicians with unique challenges. When these individuals experience pain, they are less likely to receive adequate pain management than individuals in the general population. To find effective treatment options, talk to your doctor about managing your pain safely.
A conversation with your doctor can help you understand nonopioid pain management options after opioid addiction treatment. Discuss:
- your health history,
- how your activities have been impacted by pain, and
- what you hope to gain from managing your pain.
Having detailed discussions with your doctor about your pain management and function goals can help your doctor identify the best treatment with the lowest level of risk.
Addiction Treatment with Harmony Ridge Recovery
Many people are able to make significant changes in their lives and maintain remission by finding or creating social networks and environments supportive of recovery efforts. Seek out recovery supports, including mutual aid groups, recovery coaches, and peer recovery services. They can be an important part of each person’s recovery journey.
Has your addiction left you feeling helpless with no way out? Has your loved one’s opioid addiction made them unrecognizable? We understand what you are experiencing and are here to help! Addiction not only negatively impacts the life of the user, but it also wreaks havoc upon the lives of their family and friends. Things may feel hopeless at the moment, but there is a way out. Recovering from alcohol or drug addiction is feasible.
With dedication, the right support system, and choosing an accredited drug and alcohol treatment program, countless individuals have achieved and maintained sobriety. It’s truly a magical experience to watch patients transform into the confident, happy, and healthy human beings that they once were. That’s what our team does – help those who are struggling to get back on the right track!
Researching the right drug and alcohol treatment facility is the first step towards recovery. Learn more about our commitment to achieving and maintaining long-term recovery.