Opiates are pain relievers used to treat severe and chronic pain conditions. They act in the nervous system to produce feelings of pleasure by changing the chemistry in the brain. Over time it takes more of the medication to achieve the same affect. Sometimes referred to as opioids, these drugs include commonly prescribed medications like oxycodone, methadone, codeine and morphine. Even when taken as directed, opiates have a strong likelihood of addiction. Once addicted, it can be extremely difficult to stop taking the drugs because withdrawal symptoms will occur. An inpatient treatment program may be an excellent option.
Signs of Opiate Addiction
Once a physician prescribes opiates for pain, it’s important to follow the prescription orders exactly as the doctor directed. Self-medicating is one of the leading causes of addiction. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, roughly 21 to 29 percent of all opiate users who are prescribed these medications for pain misuse them and 8 to 12 percent become addicted. There are several different signs of opioid abuse. Recognizing these symptoms and the desire to quit are important steps to recovery.
- Uncontrolled cravings
- Inability to stop using
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Flu-like symptoms
- Isolation from friends and loved ones
- Lack of hygiene
- Disinterest in things that the person once loved
Long-Term Effects of Opiate Addiction
While opiates can be useful in controlling pain for short-term use, there are some long-term effects of taking the drug. Especially when addiction is involved. Not only can opiate addiction affect the mental well-being of the individual, it can also have long-term health effects. Some of these include:
- Liver disease
- Infection of heart valves
- Suicidal thoughts and tendencies
- Heart attack
Many people who suffer from opiate addiction have additional substance abuse or mental illnesses. The most common of these disorders are depression, anxiety, alcoholism and schizophrenia. Approximately 4 to 6 percent of those addicted to opiates transition to heroin use.
Withdrawing from Opiates
The first step from opiate addiction is to acknowledge the problem and commit to a treatment program. Because opiate withdrawal and detox can be dangerous, it’s recommended to seek treatment in a medical facility or through professionals for safety reasons.
Once opiate use has stopped, the body goes through a period of withdrawal. These symptoms can vary in intensity depending on the level of addiction and how long the medication was taken. For some, withdrawal is mild, and they may carry on their normal routine. For others, withdrawal from opiate addiction can be life threatening. Common symptoms of withdrawal include:
- Increased anxiety
- Drug cravings
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea, vomiting and abdominal cramping
Treatment for Opiate Addiction
Detox from opiate use often involves medical treatment in a controlled and supervised environment. Synthetic methadone is often prescribed to help get an individual through the uncomfortable period of withdrawal. Once an individual gets through detox, the dose of methadone is reduced over the period of a week. Clonidine may also be given to shorten withdrawal times and to reduce physical symptoms of withdrawal.
Other treatment methods include group and individual therapy and counseling. Individual therapy includes time with a therapist to address the facets of the addiction. Cognitive-behavior therapy (CBT) helps addicts work through negative emotions that may have resulted in the drug addiction. Group therapy allows individuals to reflect on methods others have used to be success, and family therapy gets loved ones involved by mending broken bonds and repairing strained relationships.
Treatment from drug addiction can take time. Outpatient treatment is an option but inpatient treatment is often recommended for severe drug addiction. The length of time for inpatient treatment can vary depending on how long an individual used the drug in question and their mental state. Generally inpatient treatment is offered in 30, 60 and 90 day treatment plans.
For more information on recovering from an opiate addiction, contact America’s Rehab Campuses to speak to one of the trained professionals. Financing options are available for some individuals.