Opioid addiction is a pervasive problem in the United States, affecting millions of people. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2.4 million Americans reported opioid abuse and dependence in 2013 alone. If you or a loved one is suffering from an opioid addiction, you most likely feel powerless to stop the use of the drug. Recovering from this type of addiction often necessitates an inpatient stay followed by continued outpatient care. With the right treatment and determination, you can recover from an addiction to opioids. It’s important for you to understand exactly how opioid addiction works as well as why inpatient treatment may be necessary to help you.
Understanding Opioid Addiction
Opioid addiction is an addiction to opioid drugs, including prescription medications and heroin. Opioids are powerful painkillers due to their properties. You may have started out with a prescription for an opioid medication following an injury. When you take opioids as prescribed to treat pain, you normally won’t develop a dependence and addiction to the medication. When taking opioids in the absence of pain, however, you may quickly become drug dependent and addicted to them.
In many cases, people start out taking a prescription medication legitimately for pain. The problem can arise when you start taking more pills at a time than you’re supposed to take. Gradually, taking excessive amounts of opioid prescriptions may lead to a tolerance to the medication, requiring increasing amounts to get the same result.
Opioids come from the poppy plant, a flower from which two main natural substances, morphine and codeine, are produced. Other opioid drugs are developed by synthetically modifying these substances as well as creating imitations of these drugs. Opioids include such drugs as heroin, Dilaudid, Percocet, fentanyl, Vicodin, methadone and Demerol.
These drugs are chemicals that’ll bind to receptor sites throughout your body and in your brain. They lessen your body’s ability to feel pain and also increase your tolerance to it. When you abuse these drugs, they produce a euphoric high. When your abuse of these drugs continues over time, it can cause changes to certain brain pathways. An addiction may develop after you’ve become tolerant to the medication and have taken excessive amounts. An addiction involves a combination of opioid dependence as well as psychological effects, such as intense cravings, drug-seeking behaviors and continued use despite negative consequences like job loss or criminal charges.
Why Inpatient Treatment May Be Necessary for Addiction to Opioids
You may need inpatient treatment if you have a serious addiction to opioids. The withdrawal symptoms in people who are addicted to opioid drugs can be very severe and unpleasant, leading many people like you to continue abusing them instead of quitting. Withdrawal symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, shaking, anxiety and intense cravings. You might also experience excessive salivation, goosebumps, confusion, irritability and muscular aches. The severity and duration of your withdrawal symptoms will depend on how long you’ve been abusing opioids and how much you’ve taken.
With inpatient treatment, you’ll have nurses and doctors available who can help ease your withdrawal symptoms with other medications, such as buprenorphine, methadone or Naltrexone. You can expect to be closely monitored while going through the detoxification process. Detoxing may be unpleasant, but your symptoms will gradually ease. When you’re no longer physically dependent on the drug, you’ll most likely still have a psychological dependence. Detoxification may last up to a week.
The psychological dependence will be addressed in treatment as well, as it can quickly lead you to relapse. With inpatient treatment (where you live at the residential center while recovering), you’ll be provided the tools you need to better deal with your psychological addiction to opioids. Inpatient treatment programs are very structured and will provide you with round-the-clock treatment and care.
After you’ve completed detoxification, you’ll begin the other portion of your treatment. This treatment phase normally involves both individual and group therapy sessions. In these sessions, the primary goal will be to help you understand the factors that led you to abuse opioids in the first place. By learning how to deal with the underlying causes, you’ll be better equipped to handle your psychological dependence on the drugs.
If you’re addicted to opioids, understand that you’re not alone. This addiction is one of the most common in the United States. Recovering from your addiction alongside others who are also doing so can be a great deal of help. While in group sessions, you may learn new coping strategies from others also going through the recovery process. Having access to caring medical staff and therapists whenever you need them can also be important in helping you understand that you have the support of others.
With support, medical care and therapy, you can overcome your opioid addiction. You should expect that you may need outpatient care on an ongoing basis following your inpatient stay to help you with relapse prevention. Don’t avoid getting help for your addiction out of fear concerning withdrawal symptoms, as professionals will be there to help. If you want to get help with your addiction, you can. Caring professionals are available on the helpline and may be reached by calling 800-447-9081.