The World Health Organization (WHO) asserts that nearly 0.5 million deaths are attributed to drug use, worldwide, and more than 70 percent of these deaths are related to opioids. Opioids are a type of drug that is derived from the opium poppy plant. Opioids can be chemically created in laboratories or are directly derived from the organic plant. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH) explains that “opioids are a class of drugs that include the illegal drug heroin, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, and pain relievers available legally by prescription, such as oxycodone (OxyContin®), hydrocodone (Vicodin®), codeine, morphine, and many others.” Opioids work in one’s body by affecting certain neurotransmitters. The drug attaches to the opioid receptors located in one’s brain, spinal cord, gastrointestinal tract, and other organs in one’s body, which regulate one’s breathing as well as the perception of pleasure and pain.
An individual that uses illicit opioids uses prescribed opioids in greater doses than recommended, mixes opioids with other drugs and/ or alcohol, or ingests opioids by way of a method other than intended (e.g., crushes pills and snorts them) is at increased risk of overdose and developing other adverse medical complications. More so, when an individual constantly abuses opioids, his or her body must make accommodations to properly function with the presence of the foreign substance. When a drug that one’s body has become accustomed to functioning with is absent or has less of the medication in his or her system, it will react accordingly, withdrawal symptoms will ensue, and his or her body will be unable to function optimally.
The treatment process for individuals struggling with opioid abuse and/ or opioid use disorder (OUD) is generally comprised of the same broad components, which are detox, participating in some type of formal substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment program, and aftercare. To begin treatment an individual must first undergo detox, which is the process that rids one’s body of all foreign substances. Though the withdrawal symptoms (e.g., insomnia, anxiety, vomiting, tremors, diarrhea, etc.) that typically manifest when detoxing from opioids are rarely life-threatening, they can cause severe discomfort. For this reason, a medically assisted detox is advised to assist with mitigating the adverse withdrawal symptoms.
Following the successful completion of detox, it is recommended to continue the treatment process by attending a substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment program. A customized treatment plan will be created that is specifically tailored to each individual’s nuanced recovery needs. Some therapeutic modalities that are commonly integrated into one’s treatment plan include talk therapy, expressive arts therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), and/ or dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). Additionally, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration promotes medication-assisted treatment as an effective method of treatment for individuals recovering from OUD. Medication-assisted treatment is a combination of counseling and behavior therapies in conjunction with the use of medication to treat one’s substance use disorder. The two most common medications prescribed as a component of medication-assisted treatment are methadone and suboxone.
During the formal treatment program, an individual will develop an aftercare plan with his or her clinical team. This serves as a personalized resource that provides individuals with both detailed and broad guidance, often including suggestions for how to navigate challenges post-treatment, strategies for relapse prevention, and more. It is important to bear in mind that there is no universally superior method of treatment for those that struggle with opioid use disorder, as every individual is unique.
For Information and Support
If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one regarding substance abuse and/ or addiction, we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. If left untreated, substance abuse can result in long-lasting and potentially life-threatening consequences. Keep in mind: you are not alone! There is an entire network of professionals that are available to help and support you and your loved one throughout the recovery process. The earlier you seek support, the sooner your loved one can return to a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.
Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions regarding our specific program at Haven House Addiction Treatment and/ or general substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment-related information. Our highly trained staff is readily available to discuss how we might best be able to help you and your loved one. We can be reached by phone at 424-318-3777. You are also welcome to contact anytime us via email at email@example.com.