Opioid Dependence Treatment

Opioid Dependence Treatment

Opioid Dependence Treatment

Dependence on opioids—or dependence to prescription painkillers and heroin—affects many people in the country and in the world today. Very commonly, those who struggle with opioid addiction may be averse to asking for help because of the stigma attached to the idea of substance dependence or abuse. Just like alcoholics or other addicts, those with opioid dependence more than likely will need help to overcome the addiction. Otherwise, the problem is likely to grow, continue, and become even worse over time.

Opioids are highly addictive and addiction is a complex health condition with many elements that are caused or made worse by continuing to take narcotics and other drugs. Addiction can include social, psychological, and biological components. A user’s dependence occurs quickly as the brain adapts to the regular use of the substance over time.

Opioids can be prescription painkillers. Some examples include oxycodone, hydrocodone, and fentanyl. The street drug heroin is also an opioid, but today more people are addicted to prescription painkillers. It’s a rampant problem in all age groups and socioeconomic groups.  Opioid dependence is a chronic disease that can affect anyone. Dependence often begins after a patient is taking prescribed painkillers after an event or surgery. So, the addicted person could be a friend, a co-worker, a spouse, a brother, a sister, or a parent. No one is immune to the disease.

An increasing number of patients searching for pain relief over the past several decades has led pharmaceutical companies to develop many prescription opioid medications. Unfortunately, this increase in the number of opioid medications and dispensing is correlated with an increase in opioid abuse. According to a recent report, roughly 21 million people in the United States aged 12 and older have used prescription drugs for nonmedical reasons at least once in their lifetimes. The increase in the non-medically prescribed use of opioids is paralleled by the steady increase in the number of deaths from unintentional opioid overdoses. Since 2003, more deaths have been associated with opioid overdose than with cocaine and heroin overdoses combined.  In addition to the known side effects associated with the use of opioids, the nonmedical use of prescription opioids has made it much more difficult to achieve the goal of reducing pain with opioid therapy without causing significant adverse consequences. This issue is made even more complicated by managing patients with both chronic pain and opioid dependence or addiction.

You are not alone if you or someone you know is dependent on opioids. In 2016, there were approximately 2.1 million people that had abused or were dependent on opioids such as heroin or prescription painkillers. Since then, opioid addiction has increased substantially.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), many people believe at first that they can stop using drugs on their own, but opioid addiction is a chronic disease that causes changes in the brain, making it tough to quit without medical help. Many people struggle with failed attempts to quit on their own because withdrawing from the drug while avoiding the intense withdrawal symptoms is best left to a medical professional who can coordinate and supervise care. Finding a physician who specializes in treatment for addiction is an important first step in your recovery. Only doctors who have received special training in managing the complex care of patients with opioid dependence can prescribe in-office medication-assisted treatment. These doctors understand addiction and will listen without judgment and support you as you recover.  It’s important to be honest with your doctor about your addiction so they can plan the most appropriate treatment for you.

One of the most common treatments is in-office medication-assisted treatment in which the patient is prescribed an opioid replacement medication in gradually decreasing dosages which are taken in the physician’s office.  With appropriate support therapies and regular monitoring, the patient is often able to reduce their dependence on opioids, recover from addiction, and live a drug-free life.

If you are in pain or have questions, please give us a call at 409-986-5521 or schedule your appointment using our online scheduler.


Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

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