Opioid abuse is at epidemic levels in America. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), there are between 26.4 million and 36 million people who are suffering from opioid addiction around the world. Understanding basic information about heroin and opioids may help you in reaching out for help, whether for you or a loved one, before it’s too late.
Opioids include both illegal drugs, like heroin, as well as prescription drugs, like fentanyl, and pain relievers like morphine, codeine, hydrocodone, and oxycodone as well as many others. Many times, addiction to drugs in this class begins innocently enough. A person is often prescribed a pain medication after a surgical procedure or painful injury. When a patient takes their medication for a short time and then stops taking it, there usually isn’t a problem.
Addiction occurs when you begin taking opioids for pain and become addicted to their effects. You may take more and more of the drug to get the same, pain-relieving effect. Eventually, you may move on to illegal drugs, like heroin, to get the same effect, the euphoria or “high.” In Georgia, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported around 4.47 percent of residents 12 years of age and older used prescription drugs for non-medical purposes within the past year for the 2014-2015 survey.
Families and friends of those who fall victim to addiction are often surprised when they find out their loved one is addicted to drugs. This is because many addicted individuals are ashamed and seek to hide the issue from those they love. Family members and friends may not find out about the addiction until after they notice items or money disappearing from their homes, or find evidence of drug use.
Other times, addiction is discovered after an overdose. According to the Substance Abuse Research Alliance (SARA) a Georgia Prevention Project, there were 549 opioid drug overdoses in the state of Georgia in 2015. There were also 29 counties in Georgia where the overdose rate outpaced the national average, and the state ranks in the top 11 for prescription opioid overdose deaths.
Heroin is an opioid. It is extremely addictive and is used by millions of people around the world. Heroin was originally designed as a “non-addictive” substitute for morphine. Yet heroin would end up being more addictive than morphine ever was.
Heroin is created from the resin of poppy plants. Usually, heroin is injected, which of course, poses additional risks for those suffering from addiction as they have to deal with the risk of infection or AIDS on top of the dangers of their addiction. The drug may also be snorted or smoked, and is sometimes mixed with other drugs, like the stimulant, cocaine, creating a dangerous or even deadly combination.
The Correlation Between Mental Health And Drug Addiction
It’s important to understand how mental health and drug abuse go hand-in-hand. Often, people who struggle with mental health disorders, like anxiety or depression, will seek out drugs as a way to cope. They will begin abusing prescription drugs or heroin, for example, as a method of escape. Others may have fallen victim to substance abuse, and started experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety that resulted from or was initiated by substance abuse, creating a vicious cycle.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), of Georgia adults aged 18 and older,18.52 percent were diagnosed with a mental illness in the past year (based on annual averages from 2012 to 2014). Thankfully, there are many medications and therapies available to treat mental illness and co-occurring substance use disorders.
Detoxification From Opioids
Before seeking treatment for opioid abuse, addiction, and dependence, detox may be necessary. Detox is the process of ridding the body of chemicals gained during abuse, and usually isn’t easy due to withdrawal. Withdrawal, without medical help, is difficult and can lead to relapse. Medically-supervised detox as part of a whole treatment plan is the best way to reduce the risk of relapse, and offers the easiest way for those suffering from addiction to get the drug out of their body.
Detoxification usually takes between five and seven days, but the time frame differs slightly for each individual. Medically-supervised detox includes both psychological and pharmacological treatments, which are closely monitored by both mental health and medical specialists. Vital signs, like respiration levels, body temperature, blood pressure, and the heart rate of the patient are all closely monitored when someone checks into a medical detox center. Detox can be accomplished in an outpatient setting as well, but it isn’t as closely monitored and is typically harder on the patient.
Symptoms of withdrawal from opioids include:
- Drug cravings
- Stomach cramps
The timeframe for withdrawal depends on the type of drug a person has been abusing, and the extent and duration of abuse. Short-acting opioids will begin leaving the system around six to 12 hours after the last dose. Long-acting opioids will take up to 30 hours. You can usually expect symptoms to peak around 72 hours after the last dose.
Inpatient Treatment For Opioid Addiction
Inpatient treatment means you or your loved one check into a drug rehab and/or detoxification center. You can participate in a wide range of therapies for drug addiction in this setting. The following are some of the most common:
Group Therapy: a group of people comes together for therapy under the guidance of a professional. Groups can be small, with as few as three people, or as large as 12 members. This therapy is more effective when combined with other inpatient therapies. Group therapy sessions are typically held once or twice a week, and last between one and two hours. This setting allows those who are going through similar issues to share their struggles with others who understand or can relate to their current situation.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): works by emphasizing the importance of thinking regarding how a person feels or what they do. It is a short-term therapy that utilizes a focused approach to help participants recognize and understand the situations in which they are more likely to become engaged in addictive behaviors. The therapy helps addicted individuals identify triggers and find ways to avoid them or deal with them in a different way. It teaches individuals to let go of bad patterns that led to their addiction and to establish healthy alternatives.
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT): This is another form of CBT. It is most useful for anyone who is suicidal or suffering from a personality disorder. DBT works with CBT to teach participants how to avoid triggering their addictive behavior. It can include various modes of therapy, including group sessions, phone coaching, and individual sessions.
Holistic Treatments: This is a type of therapy that complements more traditional treatments. It is designed to bring the spirit, body, and mind into alignment. The following are a few examples of holistic therapies:
- Art therapy
- Massage therapy
- Tai chi
- Guided meditation
Adventure Therapy: This unique and innovative form of therapy has been shown effective in helping people recover from drug addiction. It works best when utilized alongside more traditional therapies. Adventure therapy can be completed in an indoor or outdoor setting, but works best when it is completed outdoors. Participants are given tasks to complete that require a physical approach, and may be required to complete a series of activities that build trust and challenge them mentally and physically. Adventure therapy fosters teamwork, communication, and is motivating and fulfilling.
Outpatient Treatment For Opioid Addiction
When a person uses an outpatient facility to overcome addiction, they don’t stay overnight at the facility. Instead, they go to various therapies and/or activities during the day and leave later that same day. It doesn’t provide the accountability and immersion into the healing process that inpatient facilities offer.
Medication For Opioid Detox And Treatment
Medication can make it easier for patients to detox their bodies and stay away from opioids after they go through treatment. The medication works by mimicking the effects of opioids in the body, thus reducing or relieving the cravings and symptoms of withdrawal.
- Methadone: This is a medication that is used to treat moderate to severe addiction to opioids. It is used with great caution because some people have become addicted to it after overcoming their heroin or painkiller addiction.
- Buprenorphine (Suboxone, Zubsolv): This medication works by producing effects similar to opioids, but on a smaller scale. It comes with far less risk of abuse and addiction.
Get Help For Opioid Addiction Recovery
If you or someone you love are suffering from addiction to opioids or heroin and you want to find help, contact DrugRehab.org to learn more about your treatment options. Remember, in many cases, addiction isn’t indicative of poor character. Seeking help for addiction is instead a sign of courage and strength.
Georgia Opioid Drug Rehabs
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