What Treatment Options Are There for Opioid Addiction?
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than 2 million Americans misuse opioids and an average of 90 Americans die of opioid overdose every day.
What Are Some Symptoms of Opioid Addiction?
People who struggle with opioid dependence may show a variety of signs and symptoms. These may include:
- Sudden or frequent changes in relationships, or spending more time alone
- Losing interest in favorite activities
- Increased fatigue, sadness, or irritability
- Rapid, severe mood swings
- Less interest in personal care, such as showering or changing clothes
- Work or school problems
- Relationship difficulties
- Changes in sleep patterns, or sleeping at strange hours
Opioid Addiction Treatment Options
Because of the risk of relapse, successful addiction recovery usually involves more than one treatment approach.
Medically-Supervised Withdrawal and Maintenance
Reducing or cutting off opioid use usually causes withdrawal symptoms. Opioid withdrawal is not life-threatening, but symptoms may be severe:
- Cravings for the drug
- Nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, and diarrhea
- Enlarged pupils
- Body aches
- Chills, sweating, and goosebumps
- Irritation and mood swings
Withdrawal can last from hours to several weeks, with physical symptoms more intense in its early stages. Without a medical provider to oversee withdrawal, a person is more likely to relapse.
Withdrawal can take place in several possible locations:
- At home, with the help of medications prescribed and monitored by a healthcare provider, along with a strong social support system
- In a behavioral health facility established specifically to help with detoxification
- In a hospital (usually reserved for severe symptoms)
Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)
Certain medications can help reduce withdrawal symptoms:
- Methadone is used to help with withdrawal symptoms during detox, but also as a long-term maintenance drug for opioid dependence.
- Buprenorphine is used in a similar way. Sometimes it is used with naloxone to prevent dependence, misuse, or overdose.
- Naltrexone works differently than the previous two drugs, but is also used to treat opioid dependency. If a person has a relapse and uses opioids while using naltrexone, the naltrexone blocks the euphoric and sedative effects.
Additional medicines, such as clonidine, can reduce symptoms of withdrawal, but do not reduce cravings. Health providers may prescribe additional medications for symptoms like anxiety, difficulty sleeping, and nausea.
After detox and withdrawal, a person is at risk of relapse back into opioid use. Emotional stress and social pressure often remind a person of the pleasure and reward sensations from using the drug.
Behavioral therapy and social support, can help engage patients in their recovery and teach new attitudes and behaviors. Therapy can help individuals learn life skills that help them cope with stress and other triggers for drug use. Such therapy may be found in self-help groups, such as Narcotics Anonymous, or group or one-on-one counseling.
“Opioid addiction has a devastating effect on families and individuals of every age, but there is hope,” says Dr. Jeremy Musher, MD, Chief Medical and Clinical Officer of Springstone, Inc. “Recovery is a difficult process, especially during the withdrawal stages, but it is possible and can be successful. People struggling with opioid addiction should receive appropriate, evidence-based treatments overseen by a medical provider. The right treatments, including a combination of prescription medication and talk therapy, can help people experience lifelong recovery from opioid addiction.”
There Is Help for Opioid Addiction
If you or a loved one is struggling with opioid dependency or addiction, you are not alone. The compassionate, licensed care team at Limestone Health is committed to helping you succeed in your recovery.