Opioid addiction is a growing problem in the United States. Increasing numbers of people are developing a dependency on prescription painkillers, and they often go on to become addicted to heroin, which is cheaper and often easier to acquire.
Addiction to opioids can ruin careers, marriages and friendships and often leads to death from overdose. Finding effective treatment is critical to the ability to sustain recovery and rebuild normal, productive lives.
Opioid Dependence Is Powerful
Opioid addiction, whether it involves heroin or prescription painkillers, creates a powerful dependency in individuals because it changes the chemistry in the pleasure centers of the brain. Detoxification from opioid drugs can be an extremely unpleasant experience, and withdrawal symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, joint pain, muscle pain, fatigue and profound depression.
Getting people through the withdrawal period can be difficult, and many patients do not complete treatment. Medications can reduce the severity of these symptoms and give patients a better chance at developing effective recovery skills.
Relapse Is Common
The chemical effects of opioid addiction make it highly likely that an individual will relapse back into use, even after an addiction treatment program. One study found that relapse immediately after a treatment program can be as high as 91 percent. This figure is generally affected by the age of the individual, the length of time addicted, whether the drug was injected and whether the individual entered aftercare after treatment.1 Participation in the full length of the program reduced the likelihood of an immediate relapse.
Finding a program that has a successful rate of completion, as well as an effective relapse prevention aspect to treatment, can reduce the rate of relapse significantly.
Maintenance Medication Can Be Helpful During Recovery
Research in addiction treatment continues to provide more information on the most effective therapies for opioid addiction. A number of studies indicate that maintenance medication can provide substantial positive results in maintaining employment, avoiding illegal activities and preventing exposure to HIV infection. Drugs such as methadone, naltrexone, burprenorphine and clonidine may be useful to assist individuals in rebuilding their lives after addiction.
Psychological Counseling for Younger Users
The age of the individual is another aspect that can be a problem during treatment for opioid addiction. According to one study, a growing number of these individuals are adolescents and young people.2 Maintenance drugs like methadone or buprenorphine may be less helpful because these individuals are not yet fixed in their mental or emotional development. In addition, hormonal differences in this age group may affect their ability to implement effective recovery strategies. Ongoing counseling may be helpful for these individuals as they stabilize in their physical and psychological development.
If you or a loved one is struggling with opioid dependence, professional treatment is available that can provide a variety of therapies to help you overcome this powerful addiction. Call a professional treatment center today to discuss options that can help you or someone you love to rebuild a life in sobriety.