Once the addict makes the decision to seek help for their opiate addiction, specialized treatment centers are the first place to seek help. In conjunction with care from doctors who specializes in opiate addiction, recovery rates for addicts vastly improve when a comprehensive approach to withdrawal is undertaken.
Often, for the chronic and long-term addict, opiate addiction medication is utilized to ease the symptoms of withdrawal. These medications include Buprenorphine paired with Naloxone during the initial detoxification stages and, when needed, during the maintenance phase of treatment. Buprenorphine activates opiate receptors in the brain and reduces cravings for the drugs, while naloxone prevents the addict from misusing this medication that is designed to aid in recovery. In certain cases, Clonidine, a blood pressure drug that works directly on the brain, may be prescribed in order to reduce the commonly experienced “fight or flight” response—the urge to abandon recovery efforts in favor of returning to drug abuse—which is over-activated during a withdrawal from opiates.
Psychological and social factors are the main elements that push opiate addicts back into a life of drug abuse as general stress and stressful situations remind the brain of the drug’s pleasurable “escape” effect. Therefore, addiction experts and treatment centers recommend participation in narcotic-addiction programs and one-on-one and peer opiate addiction counseling. Such therapy can take place as an outpatient or in a residential facility and often includes cognitive behavioral therapy and motivational interviewing, both of which aid the addict in realizing the impact and consequences of their decisions to abuse opiates and show more healthy ways to deal with stressful situations.
Additionally, if the opiate addicts drug use has damaged personal relationships, family and couples counseling is highly recommended and can help create a strong support system as the addict seeks long-term recovery. It’s important to note that experts in opiate addiction recovery stress that simple and immediate detoxification rarely results in long-term recovery, and abstinence treatments as well as ongoing monitoring are critical to success.
Because opiate are so readily available as prescriptions for pain relief and other health conditions and are so common in millions of households, the growing problem of opiate addiction is still a relatively new public health epidemic in our country. But health professionals continue to develop new strategies—withdrawal-easing medications, innovative therapies and counseling approaches—to help reverse this trend. And as with any addiction, recovery is possible for anyone who is given strong support and encouragement to achieve long-term, lasting freedom from opiate abuse and addiction.