Most Americans know of at least one person suffering from an opiate addiction or who has participated in outpatient treatment programs. This is a harsh reality, but there is hope of overcoming opiate addiction and living a drug-free, healthy life.
Opiate addiction is an incurable disease, but like other chronic health conditions, such as hypertension or diabetes, it can be managed. Therefore, so many people who were previously using, are now described as, in recovery. Whether through psychotherapy, medication, outpatient treatment programs, opiate replacement therapy or some combination of treatment methods, this group is no longer living under the disruptive cloud of addiction.
There are many paths to overcoming opiate addiction, but the most tried and true treatment combination involves medication, psychotherapy and recovery meetings. It is scientifically proven that practicing these three steps will improve your chances of reaching recovery.
Opiate replacement therapy is used to help stabilize users who are trying to quit. These medications include opioids, such as buprenorphine and methadone, that can reduce withdrawal symptoms and ward off cravings. The non-addictive medication Naltrexone completely blocks the effects of opioids.
Those who stop using opioids abruptly experience a cluster of grueling withdrawal symptoms. Quitting without medication involves nausea, vomiting, body aches, anxiety, agitation, diarrhea, and anxiety. For some opioid users, the sheer horror of going through withdrawal is enough to push them into a life of sobriety for good. But that result is not worth betting on for most addicts.
Residential rehab centers can be effective, but they aren’t necessary to provide proven treatment methods, efficacy varies drastically. Some facilities don’t have an in-house experienced psychiatrist or physician available around the clock. Therapy may only be offered a couple of hours each week, that is far from enough for someone suffering from a severe opioid addiction.
There is also a huge price tag attached to rehab that doesn’t necessarily reflect service quality. Therefore, these programs are not always covered by insurance, and if they are, the timeframe for service is limited. Overcoming opioid addiction is a long process that cannot be solved in a short-term visit to rehab.
The road to recovery is different for everyone and relapse is very common. Although it may appear to be a failure, relapse is merely a sign that the treatment method needs to be re-started or adjusted. This is no indication of hopelessness or irreparable harm, 40 to 60 percent of patients that begin treatment for opioid addiction relapse. Finding life in recovery is an ongoing learning process.