Opioid use disorder is a health problem that affects many people in the United States nowadays. Tens of thousands of people die from opioid overdose every year, and many more are struggling with opioid addiction. Unfortunately, instead of going to the hospital to get treatment for substance abuse carries a bad stigma, people try to fight the addiction by themselves. This often leads to failure and relapse.
The problem of opioid use disorder
Even though, nowadays, effective treatments for opioid misuse are becoming more accessible, a lot of people still suffer from this issue. They frequently blame themselves and their lack of willpower for the inability to fight drug addiction. In reality, this disorder is not a form of bad behavior or a sign of moral failure. It is a chronic medical condition that involves considerable changes in certain parts of the brain, a physical dependence that is very difficult to fight without professional assistance. Only recently, medical professionals came close to understanding the mechanism of opioid addiction and developing better opioid treatment programs.
The opioid addiction treatment center offers several ways of treating substance use disorder. Keep reading to learn about the nature of opioid addiction and which types of treatment give the patients a higher chance of successful recovery.
Opioid addiction treatment rehab services
National institutes for healthcare developed various methods of helping patients with opioid dependence. Some of them involve taking addiction medicine to handle opioid cravings. In some cases, treatment retention is recommended. It is essential to openly discuss your situation with health care providers to choose the most efficient treatment plan.
Substance abuse treatment include several types:
- Treatment retention. Some people want to get away from the environment that encourages opioid misuse. They cannot fight drug abuse when they are surrounded by triggers and their family members or friends have easy access to opioids. The downside of this approach is the necessity to take a break from work. The positive aspect of this program is meeting people with the same struggle and getting their support.
- Outpatient opioid addiction treatment. Patients can continue to work and live as they did while receiving health and human services. They go to hospital for systematic reviews, counseling and medications. This is a less drastic change of lifestyle compared to living in the treatment facilities. Such patients do not risk losing their jobs but need to be responsible about staying on track.
- Behavioral therapy. This type of treatment involves educating patients on how to make positive changes in their behavior connected with opioid use disorders. They get access to the whole range of mental health services such as cognitive behavioral therapy, individual counseling, contingency management, family therapy, support groups, etc.
- Medication assisted treatment (MAT): medicines plus counseling. Whether it is a residential program or an outpatient healthcare service, any treatment plan can include taking medications. This type of treatment of opioid misuse has proven to be very effective. Sadly, it is often misunderstood and treated with suspicion. Medications that are used to treat opioid addiction belong to the group of opioids themselves, so there is a myth that by taking them you simply replace one addiction with another. This is not true for two reasons. First, the medicines do not produce the euphoric effects unlike other opioid drugs. And second, the statistics show that applying medical assisted therapy helps to significantly reduce the number of deaths from overdose
The downside of this type of treatment is that it is not widely available. Before the practitioners can prescribe these medications, they need to undergo specific training. And after they complete the course, they can only prescribe this treatment to a limited number of patients. Therefore, facilities that provide MAT often have a long waiting list. The benefit of this type of therapy is that thanks to the medications, the patients do not experience severe withdrawal symptoms. The cravings are not so strong as well, so most people stay in treatment and are less likely to relapse.
Only a professional clinician educated on substance use disorder can select the best treatment. The doctor needs to know and take into account all the factors that led a person to drug abuse and mental health problems. Contact the opioid addiction treatment center to get qualified help.
Mechanism of opioid addiction
Opioid drugs hack the reward system of an individual’s brain and make the person feel good if they take opioids. Usually, fulfilling such needs as eating or reproduction results in the release of dopamine. This hormone is responsible for the feeling of pleasure or satisfaction. It rewards people for doing things that are important for the survival of humankind.
When opioids reach the brain, they attach themselves to certain receptors, which triggers the reward system and creates the feeling of high. People want to experience that feeling again. More importantly, their brain signals them that taking opioids is the most crucial thing for their survival. That is how the addiction settles in.
There are two outcomes of this change in the brain:
- The first one is the development of drug tolerance. People need more drugs to reach a state of euphoria. Opioid use disorder frequently starts with prescription pain relievers. Sometimes patients increase the dose of prescription opioids to get high, and this leads to opioid abuse. Some people even switch to stronger drugs like heroin.
- The second result is opioid dependence. People continue substance abuse to avoid withdrawal symptoms. Due to malfunction of the reward system, without the drugs people feel restlessness and have an awful mood.
Other symptoms of opiate withdrawal include:
- Body aches;
- Lack of sleep;
- Goosebumps, etc.
Knowledge about the nature of substance use disorders can help medical practitioners educate their patients on what withdrawal symptoms to expect and how to deal with the cravings. Depending on the patient, doctors choose the most effective treatments that may include medicine prescription and behavioral therapies. It may not be possible to completely eradicate the opioid addiction, but mental health services can significantly decrease the opioid misuse and the number of heroin overdose deaths.
Opioid addiction should be treated the way one would treat a chronic disease. People suffering from drug addiction are encouraged to join the rehab programs and improve their health and overall quality of life. Once you quit the drugs, come back for maintenance treatment.
Who can get treatment for opioid abuse?
People often feel embarrassed to go to the hospital for opioid abuse treatment. There are two main reasons for this: they are either afraid to have a bad image in the neighborhood or have already given up on themselves. But these concerns should not discourage patients from fighting substance use disorders. Anyone is free to reach rehab centers and see what help they can get.
Two main categories of opioid use disorders are treated with rehab programs:
- Prescription drug abuse. Opioids are typically prescribed in the form of painkillers for chronic or severe pain. It is possible to develop addiction to these medications. As a result, some patients start to misuse opioids and take bigger doses of them. National institutes such as the Center for disease control created recommendations on how to help these patients gradually taper off the drug use.
- Heroin addiction. This disorder regularly stems from the previous one. But some people turn to this drug for recreational purposes. Fighting heroin addiction is very hard, and patients should use all the treatment resources they can access. Even then, it often takes several attempts to beat the disorder.
The most effective treatments usually include both mental health services and medications.
Frequently Asked Questions — FAQ
Is opioid addiction a mental illness?
Opioid use disorder is a chronic brain condition. Initially, people may turn to drugs because of personal issues. That is why substance abuse and mental health are often treated simultaneously. Most patients benefit from counseling, behavioral therapies and support groups. But it is important to remember that opioids make significant changes to the brain, making it very hard to fight the addiction without medications.
What medications are used to treat opioid use disorder ?
National institutes approved three medications for treatment of opioid drug abuse: methadone, buprenorphine and naltrexone. They have different names and effects on the brain. The first two medications replace the opiates and smoothen the withdrawal symptoms without making the patients high. Naltrexone blocks the mu-opioid receptor, working as an opioid antagonist.
How do I get medication-assisted treatment?
Only a certified clinician can prescribe you medications for opioid use disorder. Visit the office of a health care provider that completed the necessary training and apply for a program of medication-assisted therapy.