One statistic that is causing a grave concern among healthcare and drug enforcement specialists alike is the increasing proportion of Americans who are growing addicted to opiates. While the actual number of reported cases of opiate addiction remain low primarily because of the legal implications of doing so, the increasing number of individuals seeking treatment for their opiate addiction is simply staggering. As such, it is important to learn more about these particular treatment facilities as well as how you can help someone who is addicted to opiates.
A Look at Opiates
Heroin is the first drug that comes to mind when people talk about opiates as well as opioid addiction treatment. Some may even think about oxycontin as an opiate. While both substances are opiates, they are not the only ones that fall under this particular category of psychoactive substances. Also included are morphine, codeine, methadone, oxycodone, oxymorphone, and buprenorphine. There are other substances that are structurally and functionally similar to these substances. The main point of similarity among the opiates is their primary ingredient which are all derivatives of opium.
Understanding Opiate Addiction
Addiction with narcotic analgesics or opiate analgesics typically centers on the ability of these drugs to produce an unusually higher concentrations of natural substances called endorphins. Studies show that the increase in endorphin levels can be as much as 100 times the normal limits. Because endorphins are associated with pleasurable sensations including the masking of pain signals, people using these drugs will generally become accustomed to these general feelings of euphoria and pleasure that they are no longer capable of producing or recognizing natural pleasures. For example, normally, people find pleasure in eating their favorite food. With opiates, they don’t need to eat their favorite food to feel pleasure simply because the sense of pleasure is already supplied by the opiates.
The problem with chronic use of opiates is that the substantially prolonged exposure of the brain to unusually high levels of endorphins effectively numbs the brain’s natural ability to produce these substances. That is why, when there is a decrease or reduction in the levels of opiates, endorphins also decrease. Normally, the brain should produce these endorphins but since it’s already numbed out by the opiates, it can no longer do so. Hence, the body, because it can no longer produce natural endorphins, can be said to have become totally dependent on opiates as the primary source of endorphins. It is thus crucial to maintain a certain level of opiates in the blood to sustain the level of endorphins. Failure to do so will result in withdrawal symptoms.
Withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety, suicidal ideation, physical pain, restlessness, and depression, result when the body is unable to maintain the levels of substance it has grown addicted to. This occurs with the abrupt cessation of the drug as what happens when people want to lead a new life. Unfortunately, because many cannot stand these withdrawal symptoms, they’d rather keep on taking the drugs. For those who are courageous enough to see through with the withdrawal process often end up with more severe complications. It is for this reason that withdrawing from opiates should be done under the supervision of a medical professional. Additionally, this should also be done in a medical facility to help prevent any life-threatening reactions from occurring.
Suggested Treatments for Opiate Dependence
Seeking treatment for opiate addiction is very important if one wants to lead a much better life. However, opiate addiction recovery programs typically run for an extended period of time. It does not only include help during the acute withdrawal stage but also provide an opportunity to enact changes in one’s life that will help ensure an opiate addiction-free life. The goal of treatment is to enable the person to take full control of his life once the treatment and rehabilitation in a facility has been completed. Here are some suggestions on how you can make the most of your opiate treatment program.
- Stay healthy – Your body will be trying to reverse the effects of opiates that have taken control of your life for a significant time. As such it is imperative to look after your general health as this can play a role in the success of your rehabilitation.
- Have a positive mindset – The success of the opiate addiction treatment program depends in part to a person’s positive mindset, whether he believes that he will heal. Having the right attitude is crucial as it helps facilitate the easier introduction of therapeutic fundamentals and ensure the cooperation and active participation of the individual in his care.
- Seek professional treatment – While it is possible to recover from opiate addiction on your own, the fact that there remains a number of challenges in the treatment and rehabilitation of opiate addicts mean that it is best to be under the supervision and care of expert addiction professionals. One of the reasons is to help prevent drug relapses where the person inadvertently goes back to using drugs.
- Consider a variety of options – Drug relapses are commonplace and are one of the most challenging aspects of caring for individuals with opiate addictions or any other form of addiction. Part of the problem is the choice of treatment options that may not have proven value or that the way in which the treatment is implemented is not in accordance to established guidelines. A much better option is an inclient residential opiate addiction treatment program as the individual is given all the opportunities to equip himself with the right tools to steer clear of drug temptations.
- Seek continuing support – Opiate addiction recovery does not end with detoxification nor with treatment. It is a continuing process, a life-long process. That is why it is very important to seek continuing care or aftercare services as these will help ensure you stay in the path of recovery even when you are no longer in the rehab center.
Recovering from opiate addiction requires a more holistic approach. Knowing your options is just part of the greater scheme of things. You should visit your addiction professional today if you are ready to retake control of your life from opiates.