Recovering From an Opioid Addiction
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that more than 72,000 people died from drug overdoses in 2017. To put that into perspective, the CDC reports guns killed more than 38,000 people in 2016, and that car accidents kill about 32,000 people every year. That means drug overdoses are killing about the same number of Americans as guns and car accidents combined.
Most overdose deaths—nearly 49,000—were caused by opioids, a specific class of drug that binds to one or more of the three opioid receptors of the body. In fact, about 176 Americans die every single day from an opioid overdose.
Nearly one year after the opioid epidemic in the United States was declared a public health emergency, lawmakers passed sweeping legislation to combat the problem. The legislative package allocated funding toward increasing access to addiction treatment, preventing overprescription, and training law enforcement to intercept shipments of illegal opioids.
While experts and lawmakers tackle the problem from the top, organizations such as Mountain Peak Recovery are working to save lives one person at a time. Whether you are struggling with addiction yourself, or you’re worried about a loved one, here are a few key things to know about opioid addiction:
What Are Opioids?
Opioids are a class of drugs that are used to relieve pain. The CDC puts them into three main categories:
- Prescription Opioids. Doctors may prescribe opioids for moderate or severe pain. The most common drugs involved in prescription opioid overdose deaths are methadone, oxycodone, and hydrocodone. They are commonly prescribed following a surgery or serious injury.
- Fentanyl. Doctors can prescribe this synthetic opioid pain reliever to treat severe pain. Unfortunately, it is increasingly being made and distributed illegally. Fentalyl is between 50 and 100 times more potent than morphine, and is often mixed with heroin or cocaine.
- Heroin. Between 2010 and 2016, heroin-related deaths in the U.S. increased by more than five times. It is an illegal, highly-addictive opioid drug that is usually injected. Those who inject heroin are also at risk of dangerous infections such as HIV and Hepatitis.
How Opioid Use Becomes Addiction
Because opioids are designed to relieve pain by triggering the release of those feel-good neurotransmitters called endorphins, they make users feel great and pain-free. Endorphins boost feelings of pleasure and dull feelings of pain. But when the dose wears off, users often miss that feeling and immediately want it back.
Over time, one dose is not enough. A user’s body builds up tolerance, and they will need more of the drug to recreate the initial feeling of relief.
How to Spot Opioid Addiction
Opioid-use numbers are so high, the chances are strong that we all know someone who is abusing opioids. Here are some of the signs and symptoms to watch out for:
- Taking opioids in case of pain instead of when they are already in pain.
- Excessive mood swings.
- Changes in sleep patterns.
- Pretending to lose medication so another prescription needs to be written.
- Poor decision-making.
- Taking more than a prescribed dose.
If you think someone close to you may be addicted to opioids, it’s important to talk to their doctor as soon as possible. The doctor can help determine how far along the addiction is, and whether they will be able to help your loved one taper off opioids or whether more thorough intervention is necessary.
Treating Opioid Addiction
Many people struggle in silence with addiction, and may not know where to turn or who to ask for help. At Mountain Peak Recovery, we start with an initial medical assessment to determine exactly where each patient stands before thinking about which type of treatment is best for them.
Every addiction case is unique, and every individual’s treatment plan should be carefully made between patient and clinician. Usually, the plan will comprise a combination of counseling and medication-assisted therapy (MAT). It may seem concerning to give someone struggling with addiction more medication, but when carefully prescribed and monitored, this plays an important role in nullifying the discomfort and dangers associated with the detox process.
Medication management during recovery has been proven to increase the likelihood that a patient will achieve a stable recovery. Since opioids are often prescribed because of a chronic pain or injury, that condition may still exist and can be treated with medications that are not habit-forming.
The type of MAT that is specifically geared toward treating opioid addiction is known as office-based opioid treatment. Some of the most common medications used during this type of therapy are:
So long as these medications are used in conjunction with other support methods such as counseling and group therapy meetings, they can dramatically increase an individual’s chances of a stable recovery. Their family can begin to heal, rebuild their life, and the patient escapes being one of the thousands who die every year because of a drug overdose.
Contact Mountain Peak Recovery today to begin life-saving treatment.