Understanding Opioid Addiction And Treatment Options

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The opioid epidemic in the United States is not showing any signs of slowing down. Every day, those addicted to opioids lose their lives to these powerful substances. As many as three million people in the U.S. struggle with opioid use disorder (OUD). At least 500,000 of these individuals are currently addicted to heroin. Additionally, roughly 80% of those addicted to heroin initially used opioids in the form of prescription painkillers.

Opioid addiction is a terrifying place to be, and it can be just as terrifying if it is a loved one affected. Many people with OUD want to stop using opioids, but the drugs affect the brain and body to such an extent that stopping is nearly impossible without help. Opioid addiction treatment can be a saving grace for individuals who may have no other way out.

About Opioid Addiction

Opioids are a class of narcotics made from either the opium plant or synthetic compounds. This includes prescription pain medications like hydrocodone, fentanyl and oxycodone, as well as illicit substances such as heroin.

Opioid use disorder is defined as a “problematic pattern of opioid use leading to clinically significant impairment or distress.” OUD can be diagnosed if 2 of the 11 diagnostic criteria given in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) are met. Diagnostic criteria can include items such as taking more opioids than prescribed or intended and exhibiting withdrawal symptoms without the substances.

Some of the most common side effects of using opioids include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Mental fog
  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Slowed breathing

Overdose deaths from opioids are also a major risk for an individual with OUD. Signs of overdose can involve a range of symptoms, such as extremely small eye pupils, losing consciousness, shallow breathing, choking, faint heartbeat and vomiting. Having these symptoms should be treated as an emergency situation.

Treatment Options 

OUD is exceptionally difficult to overcome without the intervention of therapeutic opioid addiction treatment and rehab or medicinal support. Some medications have been shown to reduce the risk of overdose and are indicated for OUD treatment, such as buprenorphine, methadone and naltrexone.

While medicinal support is an option, therapeutic counseling for OUD can provide a more sustainable path to full opiate recovery. Further, many opioid addiction treatment centers employ a combination of both medication and therapeutic counseling. There are a number of types of therapy that have been shown to be effective for OUD, such as:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Contingency management therapy
  • Motivational enhancement therapy
  • Group and family therapy

Counseling or rehab programs can be beneficial because they help an individual develop healthy coping skills and change their behavioral patterns associated with OUD.

Opioid Addiction Treatment Can Show You the Way to OUD Recovery 

OUD is a multifaceted condition that can require a multifaceted, highly individualized treatment approach. Even though breaking free from opioids can be a tough road, having professional help along the way can smooth the transition. At Legacy Recovery Center, we focus on healing the whole person using our 40 years of treatment experience. We focus on targeting each person’s specific needs and building a personalized approach to recovery. If you or a loved one is fighting to overcome an addiction to opioids, reach out to find your way to recovery.