If willpower alone were enough to overcome opiate addiction, the future would look much more promising for millions of addicts around the world. Unfortunately, an opiate addict needs a combination of treatments, counseling, and possibly medication to fully overcome the grip of this powerful substance.
Someone in the midst of opiate use and abuse may not realize the full extent of their addiction. Many users live in denial, believing they are in control of their prescription painkiller use. As time progresses, the damages to the person’s brain and body begin to surface. No longer can they hide the changes that have taken place. For example, repeated opiate abuse causes the following:
- Nodding off, loss of consciousness
- Elation, euphoria
- Constricted pupils
- Slowed breathing
- Sedation, drowsiness
An addict goes to great lengths to obscure the symptoms, therefore, the condition often worsens before family members become suspicious. As a result, withdrawal is more difficult and usually results in relapse. For this reason, treatment for opiate addiction should be conducted in a professional facility.
Why Opiate Addiction is Hard to Overcome
The first thing a person goes through during opiate addiction treatment is known as withdrawal. Most addicts fear withdrawal because they’ve already experienced some of the symptoms during the course of their addiction. The prospect of enduring several days of those uncomfortable symptoms is not something an addict voluntarily initiates.
Additionally, many addicts have actually tried to cease their opiate abuse on their own but have failed repeatedly due to the uncontrollable withdrawal symptoms.
Because withdrawal from opiates can be intense and even life-threatening in some cases, professional detox offers 24/7 monitoring by skilled addiction specialists and medical personnel. The procedure is conducted in a secure environment with no possibility of the individual gaining access to their drug of choice. In this way, each person is assured of the safest, most effective detox possible.
Medications That Assist in Detox
No one wants to trade one addiction for another, however, in some cases, medications are required to help a person detox from opiate abuse. Although these medications carry a potential for dependency, they often provide the extra help an addict needs to safely and completely detox. Some of the most common drugs supported by NIDA and used for this purpose are methadone, naloxone, and buprenorphine.
- Methadone: a partial opioid agonist that gives long lasting relief from withdrawal symptoms.
- Naloxone: a partial opioid agonist blocks opioid receptors from receiving other opioids.
- Buprenorphine: a partial opioid agonist gives long lasting relief from cravings.
Each person reacts differently to detox. A careful assessment should be conducted to determine the optimal approach based on the individual’s unique situation and physical condition. The important thing is to get started right away to treat opiate addiction before some of the damages become irreversible.