Opiate addiction is one of the most widespread problems in the world affecting millions of people worldwide including an estimated 3 million Americans. Despite the attempts of law enforcement, doctors and treatment professionals to provide effective solutions to opiate addiction, millions of people continue to suffer from the terrible and potentially fatal disease.
Recent advances in drug treatment, pharmacological science and psychological therapy offer some hope on the grim subject of opiate addiction and shed new light on the option of treatment but still much of the benefits, effectiveness and perceived solutions to this growing problem remain unknown. Opiates continue to disrupt the lives of those who take the drugs as well as the friends and family members of those addicted and society as a whole.
Opiates include a wealth of different drugs that are extracted from the seeds of the opium poppy as well as a lengthy list of synthesized drugs that are developed in a laboratory setting. The opium poppy contains the milky white substance that is used to make morphine & codeine. Synthetic derivatives of the drugs that come from the poppy directly are also manufactured typically in a lab setting.
Commonly used to treat pain, opiates are highly addictive and very dangerous. When prescribed at regular doses for therapeutic efforts such as to relieve pain, opiates are not highly dangerous but they do carry a wide potential for abuse and users can quickly develop a tolerance which makes for a difficult to quench desire to use more of the drug. This can lead to addiction which is not only difficult to treat but extremely dangerous for the user.
Signs of opiate addiction include:
- Taking more opiates than intended
- Repeatedly trying to cut down or stop using opiates
- Using opiates despite known consequences of the drug use
Treating an opiate addict is not easy and there is no set of rules or methods that will work for everyone when it comes to treatment of opiate addiction. Some respond well to natural detoxification and recovery methods while others require extensive medical intervention and medications in order to abstain from drug abuse. The addiction is a chronic disease which means that there is no lasting cure that is guaranteed to work or that guarantees that there will not be a relapse. There is always a danger of relapse no matter how long an individual has been in recovery or how solid the recovery may seem.
Types of Treatment for Opiate Addiction
A variety of effective treatment methods have been derived to provide patient with quality treatment for opiate addiction. Treatment for this type of addiction is most effective when the addiction is recognized early on and treatment is immediately sought but, regardless of timing, treatment is the best chance that an individual has at recovery.
Each type of treatment varies in terms of level of effectiveness and this will also vary from one individual to the next so it’s important to keep in mind that if you try one method of treatment and do not succeed, you move on to try another method right away.
The most common types of treatment for opiate addiction include:
- Methadone maintenance
- Suboxone therapy
- Other pharmaceutical approaches
- Behavioral therapy
Methadone maintenance treatment has been effectively used to treat heroin addiction for more than 30 years and continues to be a first choice for many addicts. When prescribed properly and taken as prescribed, methadone is not intoxicating nor is it sedating which means that the user can take the medication without interruption or interference with routine activities such as operating a motor vehicle or working.
Taken orally, methadone suppresses withdrawal associated with opiate use for a period of 24-36 hours. During this time, the user is able to perceive pain and have emotional reactions, two actions that are often lost when heroin or other opiate addiction is in full-swing. The methadone will alleviate any cravings that the user has for opiates which results in a reduced risk that the user will resort to heroin or other opiate abuse as long as he or she is taking the prescribed dose of methadone.
A relatively new method of treatment for opiate addiction but also a highly effective method of treatment is Suboxone treatment. Suboxone is a medication that is made up of buprenorphine and naloxone which are time released to provide effective treatment for the cravings that a user typically has for opiates. One rather different effect that comes from the use of Suboxone versus methadone is that if a user resorts to the use of heroin or other opiates while taking Suboxone, a very negative effect will occur which includes extreme withdrawal symptoms and illness.
Suboxone is administered orally in either a tablet or in a film that dissolves under the tongue. Like other medications that are commonly used in the treatment of heroin or opiate addiction, Buprenorphine (one of the active ingredients in Suboxone) has a high potential for abuse and can lead to physical dependence. Be sure to talk with your healthcare provider or a treatment professional before making any final decisions as to whether or not medications are the right option for your opiate addiction treatment.
Other Pharmaceutical Approaches
Various other pharmaceutical approaches exist in the treatment of opiate addiction including Vivitrol or Naltrexone, Probuphine, and vaccines. These methods are not widely used as of yet and in many cases are still being tested for the effectiveness as well as to determine if there are dangers or risks associated with said treatments. It is likely that additional advances will soon be made in the pharmaceutical approach to opiate addiction treatment as new drugs are developed, the risks of current medications and drugs are further assessed and the disease of addiction becomes more widely understood in the medical field.
An integration of both a pharmaceutical approach to treatment paired with behavioral therapy is considered the most effective method of treatment for opiate addiction. Behavioral therapies include residential and outpatient treatment approaches that combine individual and group counseling to meet the individual needs of the patient. There are even new behavioral therapies such as:
- Contingency management
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Rewards based therapy
Each of these types of behavioral therapy works to change behaviors and restore a degree of normalcy to those who suffer from opiate addiction. Behavioral therapy is considered highly effective at treating heroin and other opiate addiction cases when paired with a medication intervention or pharmaceutical approach.
Who Needs Treatment?
Those who suffer from physical or psychological dependence on opiates require treatment for the addiction in order to recover and to remain abstinent from drugs. When addiction or abuse is caught early on, there is not always a need for medications such as methadone to help ward off withdrawal symptoms but as the addiction progresses and becomes worse, the need for such medications will increase and may reach dire states.
You need opiate addiction treatment if:
- You have tried to quit using opiates on your own and not succeeded
- You have a desire to quit using opiates but cannot seem to do so
- You take opiates despite the known dangers or health complications that they are causing
- You take more drugs than you intend to
- You use drugs instead of spending time with family, loved ones or other people who matter to you
- Your drug use has interfered with your daily routine
- You use drugs despite the problems that the opiate abuse has caused financially, emotionally, spiritually or otherwise
These are just some of the potential signs of opiate addiction and the need for treatment. Treatment can help you get your life back on track by providing you with support, counseling and care that you may not even realize are available to you. Instead of letting an addiction continue to spiral out of control and keep ruining your life—seek opiate addiction treatment immediately.