Opioids are often prescribed by doctors to help manage pain after surgery or an accident. They are very effective drugs that bind to receptors in the brain and central nervous system to block the transmission of pain signals. They are also very addictive, however, and a person’s craving for opioids doesn’t end just because the prescription runs out. It’s easy to become physically and psychologically dependent on opioids.
When this happens, it can be tough to stop using these drugs, and you may pursue more by any means possible. You may keep taking them simply to stop withdrawal symptoms that pop up when the last opioid you took is leaving your system. You may find that you have lost control over your opioid use and feel unable to stop.
An opioid treatment program can provide various forms of support to help you get past the symptoms of withdrawal and to change the addictive behaviors that accompany an opioid addiction. This type of program provides the support of professionals who understand how these drugs are impacting your body and know how to change this pattern of addiction.
Because dependence on opioids happens so easily, people who become addicted to opioids often resort to drastic behavior to get more of them – forging prescriptions, going to see a different doctor to get a new prescription, obtaining pills from friends or family members, or purchasing illegal opioids from drug dealers. While the entire list poses dangers to a person’s health, opioids purchased from drug dealers are the most dangerous because they are unregulated and may contain incredibly strong opioids that greatly increase the risk of a fatal overdose.
Opioid addiction has become a major health crisis in the United States, where millions of people are dependent on these dangerous painkillers and more than 100 people die every day from opioid overdose. This problem is known as a public health epidemic because of the extent of it.
Besides the serious health implications, opioid addiction has a profound effect on individuals, their families, and society as a whole.
These are some of the behaviors and problems that mark an addiction. An addicted person tends to put an increasing focus on using opioids, which includes time spent on planning for and obtaining the drug. Despite the many problems using opioids is causing, the person doesn’t stop the use. They may have also tried to quit but found themselves unable, either because they felt they couldn’t or they didn’t truly have the desire to stop. Do you or your loved one experience symptoms like these? If so, it’s a good idea to have an evaluation to see if you have an opioid use disorder, the proper term for this type of addiction.
Opioid rehab is designed to help a person stop the behaviors associated with addiction and learn to live without the substance. In addition to stopping the addiction itself, goals include stopping the many health consequences associated with opioid misuse and abuse, as well as trying to prevent overdose from using these drugs. Nonetheless, people who go through opioid treatment and reduce their tolerance to these drugs need to be careful. Having a reduced tolerance and then relapsing and going back to the previous doses could also lead to overdose.
Natural opioids are derived from the opium poppy plant, and synthetic opioids may also be manufactured in a laboratory. Both types of opioids work similarly in the body. Along with blocking pain signals, they affect the part of the brain that experiences reward or pleasure, filling it with dopamine and sparking strong cravings and feelings of euphoria. They may also affect the respiratory and digestive systems.
Opioids are addictive in nature, so sustained use can easily lead to dependence and addiction. Long-term users also develop a tolerance to opioids, so they need higher doses or more frequent use to achieve the desired effects. When a person is dependent, when they stop using opioids even for a short period, they may experience physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms.
In the early stages of withdrawal from opioids, you may experience symptoms like these:
In a later stage of withdrawal, you may experience different symptoms. These can include gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or abdominal cramping. Other late symptoms include goose bumps and dilated pupils.
Unfortunately, these withdrawal symptoms make it more difficult to stop using opioids and go into recovery, and they can contribute to relapse when a person is trying to stop the use. This is because people will often continue taking opioids to stop the uncomfortable symptoms. An opioid detox program like the one we offer at Harbor Village can help someone get through this stage of quitting and recovery.
In addition to behavioral symptoms and problems caused by opioid addiction, these drugs can cause physical signs of addiction. These may include:
Another way opioids can impact the body is through overdose. The dangers of an opioid overdose increase as the addiction grows and the user develops a tolerance to the drug as they take larger doses more frequently to experience the same feelings. Signs that someone may be overdosing on opioids are shallow breathing, unresponsiveness, no pulse, vomiting, and constricted pupils. It’s important to seek emergency medical attention if you think someone is going through an overdose. Getting opioid help gives you a way to stop addiction and reduce your risk of overdose.
People often use the terms opiates and opioids interchangeably, but there is a difference. Opiates are natural opioids that come from the opium alkaloid compounds found in poppy plants, including codeine, morphine, and heroin. The term opioid refers to all forms of this drug group, both natural and synthetic, so it includes both opiates and those that can be manufactured in a lab, such as fentanyl, hydrocodone, oxycodone, and methadone, among others.
Fentanyl, among the most dangerous opioids, is 100 times stronger than morphine. Often used by drug dealers to “spike” other drugs, it is primarily responsible for the rapid increase in opioid overdoses and deaths.
Other common types of opioids include:
It’s possible to become addicted to both types of opioids, natural and synthetic ones. Since these drugs are similar to each other in nature and makeup, opioid treatment programs can generally address an addiction to any type a person is using. This is particularly the case because people tend to use different types of opioids to achieve their effects, and they may not always know the type their drug dealer has supplied them with. At Harbor Village, we help people who are struggling with use of all sorts of opioids, including prescription opioids, illegal lab-made opioids, and heroin.
An opioid addiction does not always happen on its own. In many cases, there is another problem coinciding with opioid misuse. This could mean a co-occurring disorder, whether it’s another substance use disorder or a mental health disorder. It’s possible to have more than one co-occurring disorder as well.
Someone who is abusing opioids may also use other types of addictive substances, such as alcohol. It’s possible to have a substance use disorder to opioids and another one to alcohol, or to whichever type of substance the person is using. Combining addictive substances like opioids and alcohol increases the risk of overdose and other health problems.
Substance use and abuse often coincide with mental health disorders such as depression or anxiety. People may turn to the substance as an unhealthy way to cope with symptoms of the mental health disorder. Substance use can worsen a mental health diagnosis, as a mental health disorder can also worsen a substance use disorder.
Having more than one co-occurring diagnosis creates a more complex problem and makes recovery more difficult on your own. Many people focus on one disorder while ignoring the other, and then the neglected one contributes to relapse. It’s essential to look at the full health picture and create a personalized treatment plan that encompasses all co-occurring disorders. Treating one disorder in turn helps to treat the other(s). At Harbor Village, we address co-occurring disorders, including to other substances and/or to various mental health disorders.
Before opioid rehab, it’s recommended to go through a medical detox program to stop taking opioids. Detoxification is the process of stopping use of an addictive substance. As it leaves your system, you may experience some of the symptoms of withdrawal listed above if your body is dependent on the substance.
A medical detox is a program that offers the support of professionals and treatments to help you manage these symptoms and get through the withdrawal stage safely and more comfortably.
You might be inclined to try to stop using opioids on your own, but it’s better to have the support of a medical opioid detox program. This is because it tends to be difficult to go through the withdrawal process from opioids, and the symptoms have the potential to be dangerous. Even if you do not experience dangerous symptoms, tough-to-handle symptoms can be enough to encourage you to continue using opioids to make the symptoms stop. It’s tough to get past this hurdle and into recovery on your own.
How can a detox program help? Whether you use an inpatient or outpatient detox program, professionals can prescribe medication that helps with symptoms. If you enter a hospital or facility for a medical detox, you also gain medical supervision to ensure that you are safe as you go through the process. The professionals working with you may offer extra treatments to help you feel more comfortable during your stay.
After you have gone through detoxification, opioid rehab is the next stage of treatment. Through therapy, education, and other methods, you can learn to change the behaviors you have developed as part of the addiction. You learn how to live in a healthier way without relying on or turning to substances. Outpatient opioid rehab offers more flexibility to work around responsibilities, while inpatient rehab allows you to put your full focus on treatment and recovery. Medically-assisted treatment (MAT) is also an option for opioid addiction.
We are a fully accredited drug rehab facility for opioid addiction, providing a full continuum of care. Our medical team at Harbor Village can assist you through the drug detox process, and our therapists and counselors devise a full rehab program with treatments and therapies that help you beat your addiction and achieve a successful, lasting recovery.
Medical detox normally takes about five to seven days for the majority of the symptoms to dissipate. During this process, we may administer buprenorphine or methadone, two prescription drugs that can help ease withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings. Following detox, we employ holistic, evidence-based therapies that explore the roots of your substance abuse. Through cognitive-behavioral therapy, one of the more effective therapies for addiction treatment, we identify negative behaviors and show you how to replace them with healthy alternatives. We also teach you coping skills so that you have better outlets when faced with triggering situations.