The Opioid Addiction Epidemic
Its not slowing down any time soon. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse over 30,000 people died from synthetic opioids in 2017, and almost 15,000 died from prescription opioids. In order to help, it’s important to recognize signs of opioid withdrawal.
When we think of the opioid epidemic, we often think of drugs like heroin and illicit fentanyl, but they are only part of the problem. This epidemic started with prescription opioids, and they’re highly addictive and can often turn people onto harder drugs like heroin.
It’s beneficial to learn about the big picture. Knowing how it started and why people develop an addiction can help you begin to see the root of the problem. You’ll be prepared for treatment and have a wealth of knowledge about how treatment helps people overcome their addiction. Although an opioid addiction can leave you feeling hopeless, there are millions of people who have recovered.
How Did the Opioid Epidemic Begin?
Pain management has been an important aspect of the medical field for years. During the Civil War, soldiers were primarily given morphine to help lessen the pain of their injuries. Eventually, physicians started to realize that the soldiers were becoming addicted to the morphine, so they looked for another medication. It was then that they started using heroin to get people off of morphine, but heroin was even more addictive. Since then, there have been many pharmaceutical companies looking for ways to help people manage pain with non-addictive substances.
Fast forward to the 2000s when big drug companies led aggressive marketing campaigns for new drug such as Oxycontin. Oxycontin was the prescription medication that was supposed to help people manage pain better than any other drug, and it was marketed as being non-addictive. The makers of Oxycontin spent millions of dollars on advertising, and doctors started prescribing it more frequently. Not long after the drug started flowing to patients, people realized the medication was extremely addictive.
Unlike the crack epidemic of the 1980s, which primarily affected the lower class, the prescription opioid epidemic was taking over the suburbs. Within a matter of years, middle-class people of all ages were getting hooked on the drug. Due to the way addiction works, they became dependent while developing a higher tolerance that often led to heroin.
Prescription Opioid Signs and Symptoms
The disease of addiction is extremely cunning, and it affects the brain unlike any other illness. When the source of your addiction is coming from a medical professional, its prescribed. This can include taking more than whatre physically dependent and cans common to start purchasing the pills illegally on the street or stealing them from friends and family members. While most people dond ever try a drug like heroin, many people turn to heroin because its far more potent.
There are also those who were never prescribed the medications, but they started using the medications as a way to get high. This type of substance abuse puts a person on the path toward drugs like heroin far sooner because they begin their substance abuse by looking for the drug illegally. No matter why you started abusing the drug, its prescription opioids or heroin, they’ll tell you that the worst part is withdrawal. Withdrawal happens because the body and brain have become dependent on the drugs. The body is doing its best to maintain balance at all times, and it adjusts as drugs are put into the system over time. There eventually comes a point where the body has new homeostasis, so it needs the drugs in order for the person to feel well.
Once the drugs start to leave the body, the person begins to feel the symptoms of withdrawal, which can be harsh as well as dangerous. The sad part is that many people struggling with opioid addiction are no longer chasing the high, but theyt fatal, thats the potential for heart failure.
The psychological dependence is also a challenge that a person has to overcome. While going through the withdrawal process, a person experiences intense cravings. Due to the dependence, the mind wants the person to use the drugs even more to make the pain stop. This is one of the primary reasons why quitting cold turkey often leads to relapse. Aside from the intense, overwhelming cravings, withdrawal also causes symptoms like depression, anxiety, insomnia, irritability and more.
The good news is that medical detox is extremely helpful for people who are trying to get clean from opioids. Through years of scientific breakthroughs in the field of addiction medicine, there are now medications like Suboxone. Suboxone is a medication thatre still taking the drug, which results in decreased symptoms of withdrawal.
How to Overcome an Opioid Addiction
If you realize that you have the signs and symptoms of opioid addiction, help is available. The best way to overcome an addiction is to seek the help of a qualified addiction treatment center. Many facilities offer medical detox services, so you donll do both individual and group therapy. Individual therapy gives you the opportunity to work one-on-one with an addiction therapist who can assist you with understanding why you turn to drugs in the first place. Individual sessions provide you with the personal, confidential space you need where you can be open about your past and what youll also be able to meet with mental health professionals who can give you a proper diagnosis if yout want to take medications, some mental health disorders can be treated through various forms of therapy as well as holistic methods. For example, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is extremely beneficial for depression, anxiety, trauma, anger management and much more.
One of the other major benefits of treatment is group therapy. For most people coming into treatment, this is helpful because they finally feel understood. Many people with an addiction to drugs have friends and family members who dont just stop on their own. This can lead to feelings of isolation and shame, but in treatment, itll see that youll be surrounded by people who know exactly what youll be there to assist you with getting through the difficult periods of early sobriety. Not only will you see how others trying to stay sober can help you, but yous not the case. Even people struggling with chronic pain are able to go to treatment and learn how to manage their pain without having to use opioids.
Opioid Addiction Treatment Centers
Green Mountain Treatment Center and New Freedom Academy can help you recover. Our facilities in Effingham and Canterbury, NH, offer a wide range of addiction treatment services. We’re a dual-diagnosis treatment program that offers evidence-based therapies like CBT. We also know that recovery doesn’t end once treatment is complete, which is why we offer an alumni program for you to stay connected. For more information about how we can help, contact us today.