It’s no secret that there’s an opioid crisis in the United States, and the state of Alabama is no exception to this nationwide norm. In fact, according to data compiled by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, it’s estimated that more than 90 Americans die each day from an opioid overdose, whether the opioids stem from prescription medication or the illegal drug heroin. What’s more is that it’s estimated that prescription opioid misuse alone costs the U.S. close to $80 billion per year when the likes of treatment, healthcare and other factors are included.
In Alabama, the death rate from opioid overdose is 6.1. Specifically, in 2015, more than 280 people perished from opioid overdoses in the state. This post is designed to inform just what opioid and/or heroin dependence consists of and where Alabama residents can go to seek help with overcoming such challenges. Read on for more information.
Opioids: What You Need to Know
Opioids typically include a variety of prescribed medications that are used to treat pain. Opium, fentanyl, codeine, morphine and oxycodone are just a few of the common prescription medications that are classified as opioids. Specifically, they help to treat pain by minimizing the number of pain signals that are sent to the brain. Hence, they work to alter the central nervous system. When used correctly and as prescribed, taking opioid medication is generally safe. However, it’s when misuse occurs that individuals become dependent on them because of the pleasurable effect that they tend to have. The longer an individual misuses opioids, the higher their tolerance gets. Hence, in order to achieve the same satisfaction that they used to get, they begin a path of regularly taking increased amounts of the opioid medications. This has the potential to become very dangerous – and potentially deadly – if corrective treatment is not sought and received. Some common signs and symptoms of opioid misuse and dependence include drowsiness, slow breathing, slurring speech, mood swings, depression, lack of motivation, increased anxiety, agitation and irregular sleep cycles. Signs of opioid overdose include vomiting, unresponsiveness, slow breathing, slow pulse and small pupils.
Heroin: What You Need to Know
While many opioids come in the form of prescription medication, some do not. Heroin is an illegal opioid that’s created from morphine well known for its euphoric effects it has on users. Heroin is typically injected, snorted or smoked – and it can have devastating effects on those who abuse it. Additionally, heroin is highly addictive, which is also problematic when it comes to people developing dependence on it. Short-term effects of heroin use tend to include dry mouth, nausea and irregular behavior, while long-term users usually experience more severe side effects, such as insomnia, heart issues, mood swings and mental issues, liver disease, kidney disease and even the potential risk of contracting an infectious disease like HIV or Hepatitis. Heroin overdose is characterized by shallow breathing, which can lead to hypoxia. Hypoxia can put individuals into a comatose state or lead to irreparable brain damage. Like opioid medications, one’s tolerance will continue to go up when using heroin, forcing the individual to use more of it in order to achieve the same type of high.
Detox from Opioids and Heroin
Before an individual can seek rehabilitative treatment from opioid and/or heroin dependence, they must first detox. Detox, or cleansing the body of the opioid substance altogether, is important for numerous reasons. For starters, there are various side effects that occur when one goes through the detox process. These side effects vary by individual and range from minor to severe. Typically, these withdrawal symptoms include the likes of anxiety, nausea, abdominal pain, excessive sweating, mood swings and insomnia, among others. Such symptoms typically begin within just a few hours and peak within a few days. They can last anywhere from a few weeks to a month or more. For those who have experienced long-term opioid dependence and are likely to experience severe withdrawal symptoms, the good news is that medical detox is an option. Medical detox typically involves a medical professional administering gradually lower doses of opioid drugs in an effort to wean the individual off the substance. Drugs such as naloxone, suboxone and zubsolv may also be administered to help an individual detox.
So just why is detox from opioids or heroin essential before entering either inpatient or outpatient treatment? It mainly has to do with patients not becoming a distraction to other patients as they manage the withdrawal symptoms that are associated with detox. Detox prior to admittance also allows the individual to more clearly focus on the task at hand of being rehabilitated, which has proven to have a greater success rate versus those that detox during treatment. By failing to detox prior to rehabilitation, the patient will have to manage potentially severe withdrawal symptoms while attempting to fully recover and move on from opioid dependence, all of which can be challenging.
Inpatient vs. Outpatient Treatment for Opioids and Heroin Dependence
There are two main types of treatments for patients looking to overcome any substance abuse issue, let alone one for opioid and/or heroin dependence: inpatient and outpatient treatment. Inpatient treatment is a more intensive type of treatment option, where an individual actually checks into a rehabilitation facility for a period of 30, 60, 90 or up to 120 days to seek around-the-clock treatment. Treatment often consists of individual counseling, group counseling and more new-age styles that aim to replace bad habits with positive, healthy ones. These newer types of treatments may include the likes of art therapy, yoga therapy, wilderness therapy, equestrian therapy and holistic therapy. More traditional therapies that are typically administered include cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectic therapy and rational emotive behavioral therapy. Inpatient treatment is ideal for those who have experienced long-term dependence on opioids and/or heroin and need more intensive treatment, monitoring and care.
Conversely, when it comes to outpatient treatment, an individual is permitted to live out their lives as normal with the exception of attending treatment sessions each week. These sessions may be individual counseling sessions, family counseling sessions or group counseling sessions. Outpatient treatment is generally best for those who have experienced short-term dependence on opioids and/or heroin or for those who just want continued treatment or to fine-tune certain aspects of previous treatment that they’ve underwent to provide a successful life path moving forward. Some rehabilitation centers offer what’s called “intensive outpatient therapy,” or IOT, which is somewhat of a medium between inpatient and outpatient therapy.
It’s also worth noting that several medical prescriptions may be administered with either treatment option to help someone overcome issues with opioid substance abuse. The most effective medications include buprenorphine and naltrexone. Methadone may also be prescribed to help individuals manage cravings during initial withdrawal.
Heroin and Opioid Detox and Treatment Facilities in Alabama
Though the opioid epidemic claims lives each day, the good news is that there’s been an increased awareness brought on because of it and its seriousness. And because of this increased awareness, more rehabilitation facilities are being opened to treat individuals for such issues. Alabama has a variety of both inpatient and outpatient treatment centers located throughout the state that are qualified to treat individuals with opioid and/or heroin challenges. The city of Birmingham has the most rehabilitation centers, with a total of 43. Among these is the University of Alabama at Birmingham Addiction Recovery Program, an inpatient treatment facility that specializes in substance abuse treatment as well as detox. The center treats patients via a variety of methods, such as cognitive therapy, dialectical therapy and rational emotive behavioral therapy. It also pairs patients with a life coach to help them in their rehabilitative journey. The center accepts both male and female patients, and can also assist with relapse prevention and anger management.
An additional Birmingham-based rehabilitation center is Aletheia House, which specializes in treating those with opioid issues in an outpatient manner. The center offers cognitive therapy, dialectic therapy and rational emotive behavioral therapy, and also offers individual, marital, family and group counseling. Its programs are designed for men and women as well as young adults.
Elsewhere throughout the state, there’s the Family Life Center in Guntersville. The treatment facility offers outpatient treatment and specializes in helping individuals overcome opioid dependence via cognitive therapy, dialectical therapy and rational emotive behavioral therapy. Programs pair patients with a life coach to help them with recovery every step of the way, from their first introduction to the program to helping to minimize relapse after it is underway.
Finally, there’s Pathfinder in Huntsville, a treatment center that offers both inpatient and outpatient services when it comes to substance abuse. Specifically, it offers intensive outpatient therapy (IOT) for those who wish to go the outpatient route, and periods of 60, 90 or up to 120 days for inpatient treatment. Programs at Pathfinder aim to treat patients via faith-based rehabilitation.
Contact Us Today
Like we said in the opening, opioid and/or heroin dependence is a national crisis, and certainly Alabama residents are no exception to facing challenges with such substances. The good news is that with the increased attention that is being placed on helping affected individuals overcome such challenges, there’s no shortage of places for people to seek help and treatment around the state – and the subject is no longer a taboo one. So if you or a loved one is experiencing issues with opioid and/or heroin, visit Drugrehab.org today for a means of getting the comprehensive information about the challenges you or your loved one is going through as well as where to get the proper treatment. When it comes to overcoming substance abuse challenges, it’s imperative that an individual doesn’t just secure treatment, but the right type of treatment for them. It’s the right type of treatment that can spell the difference between getting back on the path to a healthy, fulfilling life or continued struggles. Contact us at Drugrehab.org for more information today.