Opiate Withdrawal Detox
Addiction to opiates is at epidemic proportions in America and internationally. It is the number one substance being abused in America.
It is easy to obtain either through a prescription or on the street, and highly addictive.
Opiates are known as the lion of drugs and individuals abusing opiates can become addicted within days, when abused repeatedly.
The term opiate is derived from opium, which is the raw material for heroin as well as common prescription medications such as Oxycodone, Percocet, etc. Codeine, Morphine and Thebaine also contain opium.
A synthetic form of the drug is Fentanyl or Carfentanyl. These are essentially chemicals that mimic the effect of opiates but are 50 – 100 times more potent than heroin.
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Prescription opioid pain medications are legally prescribed by doctors to treat acute pain, especially post-surgical pain or cancer-related pain. These medications are very powerful and addictive and are meant to be used for a short period of time to relieve acute pain. However, that is not always the case, which leads to dependence on these medications.
The problem is that these highly addictive medications can be prescribed by any physician and even nurse practitioners also known as APNs. Indeed, over 60% of opioid pain prescriptions are written by primary care physicians and APNs, who usually do not have the expertise to treat the underlying condition.
Consequently, they write prescriptions for opioid pain medications for long periods of time without treating the underlying condition. Over time the patients develop a tolerance for the medication and increased doses are needed to achieve the same effect.
Apart from the negative consequences of addiction to these medications, long term effects of opioid use include brain damage and liver damage. Addiction to these medications can cause people to lose their jobs, destroy their relationships and turn to crime.
Opiate Addiction Treatment
After prolonged use, quitting opiates becomes difficult due to severe withdrawal symptoms. So, treatment first has to provide relief from withdrawal symptoms, so that patients can engage in therapeutic treatment to effect changes to their lifestyles.
Coping With Opiate Withdrawal
Withdrawal symptoms can vary for each individual but often include flu-like reactions. Sweating, chill, vomiting and diarrhea, stomach and abdominal cramping, and even hallucinations. Individuals may also feel depression, anxiety, and anger.
Withdrawal symptoms can set in within a few hours of last use. It depends on the strength of the last hit and the co-abuse of other addictive substances such as benzodiazepine withdrawal , alcohol withdrawal, cocaine or other stimulants.
Withdrawal symptoms are often treated with a replacement drug, such as methadone or buprenorphine, to combat the pain of withdrawal. If a person addicted to opiates does not receive relief from withdrawal symptoms, they may return to opiate use in order to get the relief they need.
Getting Addiction Detoxification
The detoxification process, where the drugs are flushed out of the system is only a start to treatment and recovery. The longer the treatment the better the outcomes. While the default setting for detoxification and rehabilitation is inpatient or residential treatment, it is becoming increasingly clear that outpatient treatment from the outset delivers better outcomes over the long run.
One of the reasons the outpatient treatment is more effective is that health insurance providers authorize longer length of treatment as it is significantly cheaper. Dr. Cidambi attributes better outcomes to the ability of patients to apply relapse prevention and coping skills that the patient learned in treatment in their living environments from day one of treatment and the involvement of the family in treatment. It allows the family to fully understand the struggles of staying sober and can better support the individual suffering from addiction.