An Overview of Opiate Addiction
Opiate addiction is perhaps the most common addiction in the world. Estimates exceed one million people in the United States alone struggle with opiate addiction. This kind of addiction is especially dangerous because opioids elicit one of the most substantial physical and psychological dependencies of any drug type, all masked by the appearance that it must be safe, it's a prescription. Opiates can be broken into two categories illicit drug use and, more commonly, prescription drug abuse. Heroin and prescription painkillers are two entirely different forms of opiates that share addictive qualities and are equally dangerous. In fact, the rates of opiate abuse and addiction have risen so much in recent years that history will remember it as The Opioid Crisis.
The Development of Opiates Addiction
Part of what makes opiate addiction so different from other drug addictions—and also more dangerous— is its effects on the brain. Like many other drugs, opiates contain chemicals that are very similar to ones that are already produced in the brain. However, rather than inducing feelings of relaxation or pleasure, opioids respond to pain. When your body experiences pain, your pain receptors send a signal to your brain and spinal cord to release opioid-like chemicals to reduce it. This is why opiates are a major ingredient in most painkiller medications.
The area of the brain that releases these opiate-like chemicals is designated for survival. In other words, it’s the part of your brain that sends messages to your body to eat, drink, sleep and stay alive. So, an addiction to opiates disrupts your brain’s natural rhythm and chemical production. During opiate addiction, your brain gets tricked into believing that it needs more and more opiates to keep your body alive. This leads to physical dependence, which only strengthens when your natural instinct is to avoid the withdrawal symptoms you would experience if you stopped using opiates.
Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms
Withdrawal symptoms always vary depending on the drug, how long the drug has been abused, and the person with the addiction. In the case of opiate addiction, the most common symptoms of initial withdrawal include:
- Runny nose
- Muscle pain
- Watery eyes
- Dilated pupils
- Profuse sweating
- Excessive yawning
Medical Detox Before Outpatient Opiate Addiction Treatment
When opiate use suddenly stops, your brain immediately recognizes the chemical imbalance and responds to it with cravings. The symptoms listed above may not be life-threatening, but when combined with intense cravings, they can be agonizing— and they both typically start within 24 hours after abruptly stopping opiate use. In addition to physical cravings, the psychological repercussions of quitting “cold turkey” can include depression, anxiety, and paranoia. The best way to quit opiates safely and comfortably is through medically-assisted detox followed by either inpatient or outpatient programs.
The Basics of Detoxification Prior to Outpatient Services
The detox process will always vary slightly depending on the treatment facility and its programs. Still, most medical detox programs for opiate addiction follow a specific structure. If you are considering treatment for opiate addiction, you can usually expect the following:
Patient Assessment and Diagnostic Testing
When you enter outpatient treatment, you may be asked to complete a few tests such as drug testing, physical exams, and psychological assessment interviews. The results from these tests will help the treatment staff establish a starting point for your treatment plan.
Drug testing is used to determine if any opiates are still in your system following your decision to quit. The results of the drug test during the assessment process will give the treatment staff a better idea of how to set up the detox process to fit your needs.
A physical exam will determine how the opiate addiction has impacted your health. The results of this test will give you a better idea of what kinds of habits to adjust during the recovery process while you’re at home. This might include a modified diet, more sleep, more exercise, and other small lifestyle changes.
Doing a psychological assessment will help your counselors and therapists build the mental health side of your overall treatment plan. The results of the interview will give the team a better understanding of the psychological and emotional turmoil you may be experiencing and how it relates to your addiction. The information gathered during this phase of diagnostic testing will be applied in therapy sessions following detox if you choose to continue with outpatient treatment.
Regular Medical Supervision
Medical supervision is a standard during the detoxification process at most addiction treatment centers. During your time in detox, a team of certified medical professionals will be available to check your vital signs, record your progress, and ease you through withdrawal and keep you as comfortable as possible. If any complications occur during detox— which is rare— the team will be ready for emergency medical assistance.
If your withdrawal symptoms become too uncomfortable, your doctors can prescribe non-addictive medications to combat the last hurdle of detox. Using medications in addiction recovery is standard, and it’s generally done for a process called tapering. Tapering with medication allows your body to gradually any remaining toxins, making withdrawal less severe.
Outpatient Treatment Programs After Detox
Opiate addiction should be treated in a number of ways, even after detox. Once you complete detox on an inpatient basis, you have the option to continue your treatment by utilizing a variety of outpatient programs and services. Most continued treatment options are all equally successful, but the ones you will most likely be presented with to choose from depends on you and your individual recovery needs. The most highly recommended post-detox addiction treatment programs by professionals include:
The Benefits of Outpatient Opiate Addiction Treatment
Most people in recovery from opiate addiction usually opt to continue their treatment plan on an outpatient basis once detox and other inpatient treatments are complete. In fact, many professionals preach the benefits of an inpatient-to-outpatient transition for those in early recovery. The benefits of this shift in treatment for opiate addiction include:
- being able to continue work or school without stopping treatment
- scheduling your treatments in sync with your daily routine
- having immediate help in the event of a relapse
- easily keeping track of other obligations
- staying with family during the evenings
Stay Sober with Help from TTC Outpatient Services in Lake Worth
If you or someone you know is struggling to get sober from an opiate addiction, consider the programs available at The Treatment Center Outpatient Services facility in Lake Worth, Florida. Our team of addiction treatment professionals can help you stay on the right track following detox. For more information about the programs and services we offer, please call us at (844)665-6834. For more information about The Treatment Center’s inpatient detox services, click here.