Opiate abuse has become a serious public health problem in the United States. People abuse opiates or opioids for the euphoria and calming effects they produce but opiate abuse can lead to addiction. Opiate addiction includes addiction to heroin, Vicodin, OxyContin and other opiates. This very serious addiction has the power to destroy lives. Only through comprehensive drug rehab can an individual hope to reclaim control, and grow stronger in mind, body and spirit.
According to the A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia, roughly nine percent of people in the United States misuse opiates at some point in their lives. Some individuals unintentionally become addicted to opiates. Their doctors prescribe them pain-relief medications after surgery or an injury and they develop a tolerance to those meds. In an attempt to control their pain, they begin taking more and more of the medication. Taking more than prescribed constitutes abuse and this can quickly lead to addiction.
Opiate addictions can be very severe addictions as opiates cause a physical addiction to occur. Opiate addicts can’t simply stop taking the drugs cold turkey or they’ll experience severe withdrawal symptoms. Once those withdrawal symptoms hit, it’s likely that the addict will take more of the drug in an effort to make them go away.
To truly overcome any addiction – particularly an addiction to opiates – it’s important to seek treatment at a qualified addiction treatment center. When it comes to opiate addictions, the first step of any recovery program is drug detox. While some people may try to quit using opiates at home via a home detox method, they may have an increased risk of relapse due to the painful withdrawal symptoms. Since opiate addictions are serious physical addictions, medications are often employed during the formal detox process. Understanding the different types of opiate detox can help the individual choose the most appropriate form of treatment.
Different Types of Opiate Addiction Detox
There are two primary schools of detox: natural and medical. Most often, medical detox is necessary to treat opiate addiction. At the end of the day, the individual who is struggling with addiction must make the ultimate decision about which type of detox works better for them, but it’s a decision that should be made in concert with treatment professionals.
- Natural opiate detox. This process simply involves a cessation of opiate intake. The individual attempts to rid their body of all foreign substances and try a holistic approach to the detox process. With natural opiate detox, the addict will experience all aspects of withdrawal symptoms to their fullest extent. This process may be very uncomfortable and even painful for the addict, but once they reach the other side of the detox experience, many individuals are grateful to be completely drug free.
- Medical opiate detox. A medical detox plan has individuals using a synthetic opiate (commonly, methadone or buprenorphine) to ease themselves off the drug in question – be it heroin, Vicodin or opium. This is accomplished by administering smaller and smaller doses of the drug over time, until addicts are weaned off drugs altogether. Along the way, the individual will experience fewer withdrawal symptoms than found in a natural detox plan. While medical detox has been shown to reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms, according to Medline Plus, there is no sound evidence that it shortens the time spent experiencing withdrawal symptoms.
Withdrawal Symptoms Associated With Opiate Detox
Although everyone’s experience is different, the following represent the most common physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms that occur during the opiate detox process.
- Intense drug cravings
- Runny nose
Where Opiate Detoxification Occurs
Opiate detox can be performed at the drug rehab center where the patient is admitted. So important is the detox process that many facilities will not allow the individual to continue with counseling until after detox. Some addiction treatment centers do not offer detox as part of their program at their facilities. As a result, these programs may send the individual to recommended detox clinics in the area to complete the process. These clinics are often hospital-like settings where the individual undergoes detox while under the care of counselors, nurses and doctors. After detox is complete, the individual can usually participate in any addiction treatment program they choose.
NOTE: Some opiate addictions require long-term medication maintenance treatment. This means that some addicts may be taking maintenance medications, such as methadone or buprenorphine, under the supervision of a doctor for months or even years. In fact, some addicts continue to take maintenance meds for the rest of their lives. Maintenance medications do not cause a “high” or sense of euphoria like standard opiates do.
Duration of Opiate Detox
The length of an opiate detox program varies according to a number of factors, including the physiology of the individual, the depth of their addiction and their own personal history of relapse. When you enter treatment at a certified facility, they will educate you on what you can expect for your opiate detox experience. If you’d like help locating a program that will work well for your situation, contact us today.