Addiction rates for opiates and other opioid drugs are soaring in the United States and around the world, and overdose rates for these drugs have quadrupled in the past twenty years.
Opiates are highly addictive and quitting them “cold turkey” is extremely difficult – but new options for detox and withdrawal are making it easier than ever to break the cycle of addiction and return to a healthy life.
What Makes Opiates So Addictive?
With the exception of the street drug heroin, the family of drugs known as opioids is typically prescribed for pain management. That family consists of the two true opiates, morphine and codeine, and a number of chemically created variations including Percocet, Demerol, Dilaudid and Vicodin.
All these drugs act on the body’s opioid receptors, cells found in the brain, spinal cord and even gastrointestinal tract. The body naturally produces its own opiods, known as endorphins for feelings of well-being and relief from pain. But the far more potent opiate and opioid drugs take over functions of blocking pain messages and stimulating feelings of pleasure and euphoria.
Over time, the system develops a tolerance for the drug, so users crave more and more to get the same effects. They may combine opiates with other drugs, or snort, inject or crush them for a stronger high. Because the body adapts to the drug, stopping abruptly triggers a range of withdrawal symptoms that can resemble various kinds of flu, such as:
- Muscle pain, aches and fever
- Stomach cramps, nausea and diarrhea
- Excessive tearing and runny nose
- Insomnia, anxiety and irritability
Other withdrawal symptoms can include restless leg syndrome, coughing, or breathing problems.
These symptoms are usually not life threatening, but they can be so distressing that users start taking the drug again to avoid them. This creates a constant cycle of stopping and relapsing that never leads to recovery.
Stopping Addiction: Resources for Recovery
Stronger control of opiate prescribers has helped to cut addiction rates in states such as Florida, which has seen a drop in both the number of people admitted to detox and rehab facilities, and in the number of deaths from overdose.
Better oversight of doctors who overprescribe these drugs and the patients who seek multiple prescriptions for them may keep people from becoming addicted. But for those who do struggle with addiction in Florida and elsewhere in the US, a variety of resources can help with quitting opiates for good.
More Options for Detox and Recovery
Quitting opiates “cold turkey” can be nearly impossible and leads to relapse after relapse. But the availability of medically supported detox on every level of care can make withdrawal easier.
Detox options for today’s addict include outpatient detox under the supervision of a clinic of doctor, a stay in a dedicated detox facility, or a month or more in an inpatient program with detox included.
During medically supervised detox, people struggling with opiate addiction go through withdrawal with the support of trained professionals who can prescribe medications including clonidine, buprenorphrine and methadone to help with the discomfort of withdrawal symptoms. Medical detox programs can also offer extra support or even hospitalization for at-risk users who have severe addictions or other kinds of health problems.
After detox, recovery can begin through an outpatient program or inpatient rehab. Although outpatient programs allow users to stay home and continue working while in recovery, this kind of program can take longer and raises the rate of relapse.
Inpatient rehab is the “gold standard” of addiction recovery that offers the highest rate of success. Inpatient substance abuse rehabs often include detox as part of the package, so that clients can have a stable and calm environment for working on recovery full-time. With inpatient care, relapse rates fall to just one-third of those in outpatient rehab programs.
Are you or a loved one struggling with an addiction to opiates or other opioids? If you’re looking for ways to break free, we can help. Contact our addiction specialists at 800-442-6158 Who Answers? for the answers you need today.