The use of prescription and illicit drugs has skyrocketed and has become a major concern in the public eye. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of overdose deaths involving opioids, both prescription synthetic opioids, and heroin, has quadrupled since 1999. Coinciding with this increase, the sale of prescription opioids nearly quadrupled from 1999 to 2014. Opioids such as; morphine, oxycontin, heroin, and fentanyl are used to treat severe pain. They are prescribed daily by doctors, who treat pain as the fifth vital sign.
The opioid crisis has damaged our nation. Families are often torn apart, lives are destroyed, and death are some of the negative consequences many addicts face. With the matter of the crisis being drawn to attention by many of us within the media, the opioid epidemic is gaining overall awareness and the public is now further investigating how to decrease the incidence. The problem with the opioid epidemic, today, is that it’s easier to get high than it is to get help.
Addiction, like diabetes or heart disease, is an incurable disease. Addiction is often managed, and other people with addiction will, and do, recover.
The US Department of Health and Human Services are working to decrease the incidence of opioid abuse. Today there are many ways to treat opioid addiction. While researching different treatments, I chose to speak on detoxification. Detoxing is the first step for many facing opioid addiction. During detoxification, the user’s body goes through a process that’s eliminate the opioid from the body in a safe manner.
Many report that going through detox is the toughest battle. Agitation, tremors, hot flashes, chills, muscle aches, and nausea are a few withdrawal symptoms that the patient may report. These symptoms are very uncomfortable for the patient to go through. Continued support and motivation during this process is crucial for a successful outcome. Detoxification followed by complete abstinence is a nonpharmacological intervention that involves a 12 step process. It works if you work it. The 12 steps process answers questions you may have about addiction. During AA/NA meeting lifelong friendships are built and healing takes place.
These groups break the isolation barrier and offer fellowship, hope, and guidance when doubt may come. The 12 Step model provides accountability for people who would like to overcome their addiction. During this process, the person may have a sponsor. A sponsor is a partnership between someone who has experience with the program and someone new to recovery. Together, they work the program of recovery and keep one another on track. Having someone to confide in and knows from past experiences lets the client know that they’re not alone on the road to recovery. Once the withdrawal process is done, a person may remain abstinent (going completely without) any kind of opioid drug. 12-step groups such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA), which often encourage this abstinence-approach to recovery, can be helpful. This treatment plan does not involve the help of any type of opioid medication. Medication-free recovery can be possible for a small number of stable patients with high motivation. The small number of patients who can recover without help from medication report relying on personal motivation, past treatment experiences, religion/spirituality, and support from family and close friends. However, as many as 90% of those detoxified from opioid use will relapse within the first 1-2 months unless treated with medications.
Some clients prefer to begin oral medication along with detoxing. Medication-assisted treatment helps manage the withdrawal symptoms. This approach is called, “Detoxification and induction onto Agonist Maintenance: Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT).” After detox, MAT involves continued treatment with one of three main types of medications: methadone, buprenorphine, or naloxone. MAT with these medications can help make the difficult process of recovery for opioid addiction less risky. When compared to recovery treatment without medication, MAT has been proven to, increase treatment retention, Reduce the risk of relapse, Improve social functioning, reduce the risks of infectious disease transmission and reduce criminal activity. People dealing with physical dependence on opioids typically experience multiple relapses throughout their treatment. During each period of abstinence, a person’s tolerance for opioids decreases. If a patient relapses after some time without the drug and begins to take the same amount of drug that he or she used before detoxification, they are at a high risk of fatal overdose because the body is no longer used to such a large amount of opioids. By reducing a patient’s risk of relapse, MAT has been shown to reduce this risk of death from overdose during recovery.