Opioid Addiction Rehab Treatment
Opioid addiction is a serious disease that can cause severe health, social, and economic problems. In the United States, opioid abuse has become a public health crisis. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that more than 2 million Americans are abusing opioids and 90 Americans die every day from opioid overdoses. It is estimated that 5,000 people begin abusing prescription opioids daily. Opioid addiction can cause life-threatening health problems and death due to overdose. But opioids do not have to claim the lives of people you love. Help is available to people struggling with prescription opioid misuse and street drug abuse. The best opioid rehab programs in America can make lasting sobriety a reality.
What are opioids?
Opioids are a class of drugs that act on the human brain. They produce feelings of pleasure and pain relief. Some drugs in this class are prescribed by healthcare providers for severe longstanding pain. Commonly prescribed opioid pain relievers include oxycodone, hydrocodone, oxymorphone, methadone, fentanyl, codeine, morphine, and tramadol. The street drug heroin is also an opioid. Prescription opioids are generally safe for short-term pain relief after an injury, surgery, or pain related to cancer. However, opioid misuse and addiction are potential risks in anyone who uses these powerful drugs.
What is opioid addiction?
People who misuse prescription pain pills or abuse the illegal drug heroin may experience a powerful urge to use opioids. This is called opioid addiction. Individuals who become addicted to opioids are consumed by getting and using the drug. This can escalate to the point where opioid addiction negatively impacts the person’s relationships and professional life.
Opioids influence brain chemistry and lead to tolerance. This means over time a person needs to take larger or more frequent doses of opioids to achieve the same euphoric effects. With long-term use, there is the development of physical dependence on opioids, so that stopping opioid use causes withdrawal symptoms. Dependence is different from addiction. Anyone who takes opioids for an extended period will become dependent. However, only some people become addicted to opioids, characterized by a compulsive need for the drug.
Opioid misuse refers to not taking prescription opioid medicines as directed by the prescribing physician. Prescription opioids are often misused by taking larger doses or more frequent doses than prescribed. They are also frequently diverted to others. If someone takes opioid pain relievers to get high or uses opioids prescribed to someone else, it can lead to addiction. Opioid addiction can occur in some people even when the medications are prescribed and taken as directed by a healthcare provider.
The Body’s Response to Opioids
The human body produces natural opioid substances called endogenous opioids. Opioid receptors are present in many regions of the nervous system and other parts of the body. Endogenous opioids fit into the opioid receptors like a key in a lock. Prescription painkillers and heroin are exogenous opioids that are introduced into the body from outside. They also exert their effects by binding to opioid receptors in the brain. The mu opioid receptor is the main receptor for most opioid drugs. The attachment of endogenous or exogenous opioids to the opioid receptors triggers a series of chemical reactions in the brain. This produces feelings of pain relief and pleasure. Scientists have found that variations in the genes that produce opioid receptors play a role in the risk of opioid addiction.
How common is opioid addiction?
Approximately 15 million people worldwide and 2 million people in the United States suffer from opioid addiction. Prescriptions for opioid-containing medications increased fourfold between 1999 and 2010. This was accompanied by a fourfold increase in opioid overdose deaths. In 2016, more than 33,000 Americans died from prescription opioid and heroin overdoses. Opioids account for more than half of all deaths due to drug overdoses.
Who is at risk of opioid addiction?
Opioid addiction is a complex medical condition that is the result of a combination of environmental, genetic, and lifestyle factors. People with a history of substance abuse, childhood neglect or abuse, and psychiatric conditions like depression are at higher risk of opioid addiction. Certain personality traits, such as impulsiveness and sensation-seeking behaviors also increase the risk of opioid addiction. Easy access to prescription opioids or illegal street drugs like heroin can contribute to a person’s risk of developing an addiction to opioids. People living in poor or rural areas or with others who abuse opioids are more likely to start misusing and abusing opioids themselves.
Does opioid addiction run in families?
Research has shown that genetics plays a significant role in vulnerability for opioid addiction. Genetic factors can explain why some individuals are more likely to develop opioid addiction than others. It can also explain why some people respond to opioid addiction treatment differently than others. There is no clear inheritance pattern for opioid abuse. However, many affected individuals have a family history of opioid abuse or other substance use disorders. Family members of addicts are at higher risk of addiction in part due to genetic factors but also due to a shared lifestyle and environment.
Signs of opioid addiction
If you’re concerned about opioid addiction in someone you love, look for the following signs and symptoms:
- A constant state of euphoria or being “high”
- Slowed breathing
- Decreased motivation
- Poor concentration
- Unusual sleeping patterns or nodding off at inappropriate times
- Increased anxiety
Opioids are dangerous and an overdose can be fatal. In case of emergency, call 9-1-1 immediately.
Safe use of prescription opioids
People who have been prescribed opioids for valid medical reasons are at risk of developing an opioid addiction. Here are some tips on opioid safety:
- Only take opioid pain pills with a prescription from a healthcare professional.
- Never share your prescription opioids with others.
- Never obtain prescription pain pills from others.
- Never take your opioids more often or at higher doses than prescribed.
- Don’t change your dosage without consulting your doctor.
- Know the common risks and side effects of opioids. Call your doctor if you experience any unexpected symptoms.
- Do not mix your opioid medications with other prescription or over-the-counter medications without your doctor’s knowledge and consent.
- Store opioid medications safely out of reach of children, pets, and guests.
- Keep track of your pills so you’ll know immediately if any are missing.
- Keep your medicines in their original containers with a child-proof cap.
- Dispose of unused or expired medication properly.
Opioid addiction treatment and rehab services
There are several effective treatments for opioid misuse and addiction, including medication-assisted therapy and counseling and behavioral therapies. Opioid abuse rehab is available at both residential facilities and through outpatient rehab programs.
Medication-assisted treatment: Certain medications, such as methadone and buprenorphine, are used to treat opioid addiction by decreasing withdrawal symptoms and cravings. They restore the chemical balance in the brain and allow healing during recovery. Naltrexone is a drug that takes away the high normally produced by opioids. It is used to prevent relapse after a recovering addict has been off opioids for 7-10 days. Another drug called naloxone is used to treat opioid overdose. Naloxone and buprenorphine are prescribed in combination to reduce the risk of buprenorphine misuse.
Counseling and behavioral therapies: Recovering opioid addicts can benefit from counseling to change their attitudes and behaviors related to drug abuse. Behavioral therapies help addicts build healthy coping skills and motivation to stick with addiction treatment. Various types of therapies are used to treat opioid addiction and heroin abuse, including individual, group, and family counseling, cognitive-behavioral therapy, motivational enhancement therapy, and contingency management.
Top rehab centers in America take a whole-person approach to opioid addiction treatment for lasting sobriety. Residential rehabs for opioid addiction combine housing and treatment services for more intensive support during recovery. Outpatient opioid rehabs allow recovering addicts to continue living at home while receiving treatment for opioid misuse and abuse.