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Opioids include illegal drugs, such as heroin; prescription pain relievers, such as hydrocodone (Vicodin), oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet), morphine (Kadian, Avinza), and codeine; and synthetic opioids like fentanyl. Opioids are available in the form of pills that can be taken orally or can be crushed to form powder, which can be made into a liquid for intravenous use. They are also available in powder form.

Usually prescribed for moderate to severe pain, opioids are a type of narcotic medication that can lead to dependence when taken beyond the prescribed dose and duration. They are relatively safe when taken for a short period of time, but their ability to reduce pain and generate euphoria makes the users susceptible to misuse. Opioids work by binding themselves to opioid receptors in the brain, spinal cord and other parts of the body. They reduce the intensity of pain signals and affect the emotional centers of the brain. In addition to causing sedation and relaxation, their long-term use causes constipation, slurred speech, confusion, and more. Respiratory depression is among the most dangerous results of opioid abuse leading to death in the worst cases.

Owing to their addictive nature, patients may experience painful withdrawal symptoms and are more prone to relapse. For this reason, opioid treatment programs should not only focus on treating the physical symptoms, but also work toward bringing behavioral changes. A comprehensive treatment for opioid addiction involves medically assisted detox program, medication and counseling sessions.

Prescription opioid abuse

The high prescription rate of opioids is one of the factors behind the opioid epidemic, which has now become a public health emergency in the United States. Prescription opioid abuse has resulted in an increase in emergency room (ER) visits, increase in hospitalizations and an increase in overdose deaths. In 2016, an estimated 11.8 million Americans, aged 12-17 years, misused opioids whereas, 948,000 used heroin and 11.5 million people misused pain prescriptions in the past year. Among those who misused pain relievers in the past year, 62.3 percent abused them to relieve physical pain and about 50 percent agreed to have obtained the drugs from a friend or relative.

Apart from their physical side effects, opioids also cause a hedonic effect, when the brain’s complex reward system is affected. This is a major cause of dependence and addiction. Individuals addicted to opioids compulsively find ways to procure opioid painkillers and exhibit behavior that lead to negative consequences in their personal and professional lives. This necessitates opioid addiction treatment using holistic recovery programs.

Signs of abuse

Individuals who take opioids over a long period of time can develop dependence and experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms when the opioids are taken away from them. The drug dependence soon leads to drug tolerance which generates the need to have a higher quantity of the drug to achieve the same effects. Once addicted, users continue to obtain opioids in various ways like doctor shopping, robbing the hospice patients and stealing from home cabinets despite knowing their dangerous effects on one’s physical and mental health. The National Survey on Drug use and Health (NSDUH) reveals that in 2016, an estimated 2.1 million people, aged 12 or older, suffered from an opioid use disorder (OUD).

There are a number of physical and behavioral changes that can suggest opioid addiction. Here are some of them:

  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Nervousness
  • Financial difficulties
  • Secretive and suspicious behavior
  • Paranoia
  • Sleep changes
  • Slurred speech
  • Change in appetite

Detox and withdrawal

People struggling with opioid dependence gradually lose interest in hobbies and interpersonal relationships. They become socially isolated and find difficulty in concentrating on work. The desire to obtain treatment is far from their mind. This is where the family members and loved ones should step in to encourage the affected ones consult a psychiatrist before the matters spiral out of hand.

Excessive opioid use will cause a cessation of the production of endorphins (body’s natural painkillers), leading to intense physical and psychological pain during withdrawal. However, with the right detox program, aimed to cleanse the body and nourish it with nutritional supplements, one can successfully recover from opioid addiction.

Withdrawal from opioids can cause an opioid user to experience depression, gastrointestinal pain, insomnia, anxiety, panic attacks and vomiting. Though the withdrawal effects are not lethal, they are quite painful, resulting in a possible drug relapse just to stop the withdrawal effects.

Opioid addiction treatment

Similar to other drugs of abuse, treatment for opioid addiction should be tailored to an individual’s needs and medical history. A good treatment plan for opioid addiction should offer a holistic combination of experiential therapies, non-addictive medication and a medically assisted opioid detox treatment along with behavioral therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

The foremost step in recovery, detoxification treatment helps the patient get ready for further treatment by flushing out toxic substances from the body. It also assists in managing the withdrawal symptoms. Post a successful detox, patients undergo behavioral therapy or counseling sessions to help uncover any hidden mental or physical illness that may be fueling substance abuse.

Why choose Sovereign Health

Sovereign Health of Rancho San Diego is one of the best centers in treating opioid addiction and abuse through an integrated approach. The expert clinicians at our rehab centers can help young people break the addiction cycle and regain control of their life.

At Sovereign Health of Rancho San Diego, our expert staff is experienced in treating teens aged 12 to 17 years with OUD. Our opioid addiction treatment programs are tailor-made to fit the specific psychological and pharmacological needs of each patient, maximizing the chances of a quick and lasting recovery.

Included in these opioid treatment programs are traditional treatments such as family therapy. Parents and siblings are important figures in a young person’s life and may need treatment for mental health problems as well. Experiential therapies, such as equine therapy, meditation, yoga and expressive arts therapy are also beneficial. Recovery in a rehab can be a long emotional road to recovery, but with the right tools and support form trained health care workers, our patients can combat their addictive habits by learning to reduce cravings and making healthy lifestyle choices.

Sovereign Health of Rancho San Diego is a Joint Commission-accredited provider of behavioral health services and treatment for substance abuse and mental disorders. If you are interested in learning more about Sovereign Health’s adolescent opioid treatment programs or in understanding the working of opioid detox centers, call our admissions team at our 24/7 helpline number. You can even chat online with a representative for further assistance.

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