People who are addicted to opiate may need long-term treatment before they can reach full recovery.
What is Opiate Addiction?
Opiate addiction can affect any individual because it is often prescribed by doctors. Prolonged use of this drug can cause brain disorder because it causes nerve damage within the brain, inhibiting the brain cells to produce endorphins (natural painkillers). When this happens, degeneration of nerve cells is evident reducing the ability of the body to deal with pain. This leads to physical dependence on this drug and later causes opiate addiction.
What is Opiate Withdrawal?
When an individual has been abusing opiate for a long time, it can lead to physical dependence and later causing withdrawal. Withdrawal happens when the user decides to discontinue taking opiates and finds the whole process a real struggle. The Opiate withdrawal symptoms do vary from one person to another and usually dependent on the number of doses taken. Medical treatment programs like opiate detoxification are among the most recommended forms of treatment to eliminate the toxins left inside the user’s system safely.
Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms
Opiates are used as prescribed medications to treat pain after surgery. When a patient develops high tolerance to these drugs, dependency and abuse could arise in order to achieve the same desired effect. Among the common symptoms that users may experience during opiate withdrawal are:
- Intense cravings for the drugs
- Stomach cramps
- Chills (Goosebumps)
- Muscle pain
- Uncontrolled trembling or shaking
- Bone pain
- Dilated pupils
The withdrawal symptoms of Opiate users aren’t considered to be life-threatening. However, there are certain conditions that could lead to serious side effects if the user’s addiction escalates to an alarming level and duration of abuse.
How to reduce the Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms?
Reducing the opiate withdrawal symptoms can be done through the prescription of Methadone. In most drug rehab treatment centers, replacement therapy is where medications are given to patients to help them cope with the discomfort and get on with the detox process. Here are some of the medications given to patients undergoing withdrawal:
- Methadone – this is widely prescribed as medication and used as a replacement for opiates and other drugs like heroin. This drug is given to lessen the withdrawal symptoms that are expected to happen while undergoing opiate detox. Methadone is also considered a powerfully addictive drug. It is misused or abused during the replacement therapy treatment. Therefore, it’s mandatory that the doctor’s presence is there to monitor the patient.
- Suboxone – is another replacement therapy approach given to patients and help them overcome addiction and manage withdrawal symptoms. While using this medication, the patient will feel sick if they try to use opiates.
- Naltrexone – a commonly prescribed medication designed to alleviate or slow the opiate withdrawal symptoms. It is also an active component of Suboxone.
Detoxification is the initial treatment given to an addict suspected of overdose. It is a medical procedure wherein the patient’s body is cleaned of a traces of drugs. It can be done at home, but in most cases, the procedure is performed at the hospital or drug rehab facility. This is to ensure medical care and monitoring is performed properly on the patient. While the patient is undergoing opiate detox, the following withdrawal symptoms may be visible and cause discomfort:
- Body tremors
- Episodes of confusion or hallucinations
- Sweating profusely
- Bone and joint pain
What are the Differences between Opiate Dependence or Opiate Addiction?
As mentioned, opiates are considered powerful and highly addictive painkillers that could lead to euphoric effect (feeling high) or deep sedation. If you want to know how to differentiate opiate dependence from opiate addiction, here are some signs to look for:
- Opiate dependence
The manifestation of withdrawal symptoms is evident while the opiate user is not taking the drug. If an opiate user who developed dependency decides to discontinue or decrease in doses of opiates, this leads to withdrawal.
- Opiate addiction
This is a chronic case where the opiate user has already developed a neurological disease due to the physical and psychological addiction to this drug. Among the signs to watch over a person suspected with Opiate addiction are: uncontrollable drug cravings, bad behavior due to the use of this drug, and being unmindful of the consequences brought on by the drug use.
Dependence comes first. Then, the user’s tolerance level increases. Consequently, the physical and psychological need becomes intense. After, the withdrawal symptoms worsen over time. As a result, the user needs to consume more in order to feel the effect of this drug which results in addiction.
Opiate Addiction Symptoms
The symptoms of opiate addiction can be quite hard to distinguish because they aren’t immediately apparent. The user can hide the signs in order to prevent others from noticing them. Here are some of the common symptoms associated with opiate addiction:
- Track or needle marks
- Lethargic (heavy limbs)
- User may wear long sleeves most of the time to hide needle marks
- User would prefer hanging out with peers who also use opiates
- User constantly asking for money
- Unmindful of one’s appearance
- Lack of self-hygiene
- Feeling drowsy most of the time
- Weight gain
- Weight loss
Opiate Addiction Treatment Options
There are various addiction treatment options to help a user regain his or her normal drug-free life. The common approaches to treating opiate addiction may cover detox, replacement medication therapy, private counseling and group sessions. Patients with opiate addiction are also recommended the following treatment options:
The patient is confined in a hospital or a residential drug rehab facility. Detox and series of rehabilitation treatment programs are administered to help treat the addiction and reach full recovery. This type of treatment option is advised to patients with medical conditions that need strict monitoring of medical professionals. Inpatient aims to help the addict recover from his or her addiction and prevent a relapse.
This type of treatment combines therapies and private counseling. Depending on the patient’s level of addiction problem, it can be done on a regular basis like daily, weekly, or monthly. Outpatient treatment is perfect for patients who have other obligations like work, family or school.
The patient is admitted to a hospital or residential rehab facility for a period averaging 30 days or more, depending on the extent of his or her addiction. This type of treatment option is ideal for patients with a serious addiction problem and in need of constant medical intervention and counseling.
There are support groups organized in our communities that aim to support and help addicts get back to their normal lives and fight addiction. If a user decides to quit his or her opiate addiction problem, he or she could rely on support groups like the Narcotics Anonymous and Opiates Anonymous.