When you face opioid dependence, either your own or that of a loved one, it can feel overwhelming and scary. These struggles can be extremely difficult as patients face withdrawal as well as potentially life-threatening complications if they do not manage to break free from the drug. Those who find themselves facing this struggle in South Dakota should arm themselves with a wealth of information so they can make informed decisions about treatment paths and facilities, thereby boosting their chances of recovery. For heroin and opioid detox and treatment in South Dakota, here is what you should know to get started on the path towards health.
What Are Opioids?
Opioids include a range of different drugs, from prescription painkillers, such as oxycodone or hydrocodone, to heroin. These drugs can cause some people to develop a physical dependence on them, often very quickly. Patients who develop dependence on opioids will have changes occur in their brain. While they may have initially used the drug voluntarily or as a part of a medical treatment for pain management, when dependence results, the patient can no longer control their cravings or their usage. The addiction, at this point, has become a chronic condition.
Within the brain there are receptor molecules that the opioid molecules can attach to, which results in the release of dopamine and a feeling of euphoria. For patients taking an opioid pain medication, this release of dopamine will dampen their experience of discomfort. As receptors receive input from the opioid molecules, they begin to develop tolerance. Not only do they develop this tolerance for the molecules produced by the drug, but they also become tolerant of the opioid-like molecules that the body produces naturally, including endorphins. The body quickly becomes unable to produce enough natural opioids to function normally.
Once the patient reaches this stage, they will start to feel symptoms of withdrawal. The body is now dependent upon the external opioid in the form of the drug to keep it just feeling normal. For many patients, this physical dependence produces a desire to avoid withdrawal along with intense cravings for more of the drug, which then begins to drive drug-seeking behavior. The brain’s desire for the drug can persist even after the person has successfully detoxed from the drug and even gone through treatment. Patients who struggle with this disease may find themselves at risk for relapse, even years after they stop using the drug. This means that those struggling with this disease, as well as their loved ones, must maintain a strong support system and be vigilant. It is important to think of this dependence as a chronic disease that must be managed.
In South Dakota, the non-medical use of prescription painkillers remains a problem, with 3.52 percent of the population over the age of 12 reporting using between 2013 and 2014. In the state, patients and their loved ones must also be attentive to the need for treatment. The number of people who needed, but did not receive, treatment for illicit drug use rose from 1.87 percent from 2012-2013 to 1.91 percent in 2013-2014. Dependence on opioids and other illicit drugs remains a pressing concern for the state.
What Is Heroin?
Heroin, specifically, is an illegal drug. Like other opioids, it is highly addictive. It is derived from the opium removed from the pod of a poppy flower. Most users will inject heroin, which also places the user at risk for diseases that can be transmitted from shared needles, including HIV.
In South Dakota, a 2014-2015 survey found that 2,000 people over age of twelve used heroin in the past year. The population also faces risks from mental illness, with 38,000 reporting a major depressive episode and 110,000 reporting any mental illness within that same timeframe. Patients who have comorbid diseases of mental illness and addiction to heroin or other opioids need treatment that can address both of these problems.
How Do People Recover From Heroin Or Opioid Addiction?
For patients to get started on the path towards health and begin to leave their struggle with opioids behind them, they will need to go through two main stages of care. The first is detox, when they physically remove the drug from their bodies. The second is rehabilitative treatment, where they will begin to recover physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually from their disease.
There are several different types of detox available for patients struggling with opioids. During detox, patients may find themselves facing some side effects of withdrawal. These symptoms might include nausea, cramping, anxiety, intense cravings, and depression. However, many patients and their loved ones prefer medical detoxification, which allows the patient to go through the process while under direct medical supervision at a hospital or other treatment center. Those who have been using opioids for an extended period of time will likely benefit most from this type of detox, as they will receive care throughout the process and have their symptoms and discomfort reduced significantly.
After patients have gone through the detox process, they can then begin their treatment and recovery. For this stage of treatment, patients can go through either inpatient or outpatient facilities.
During inpatient treatment, patients will live at a facility from anywhere for a few weeks to a few months. Different facilities will use different approaches for their treatment. Traditional centers may use group therapies, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), or dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), for example, to help patients learn better ways of coping with the stressors of life as well as their cravings. Patients will build their support system as well as their personal skills to help them face their struggles and lead healthier lives.
Other treatment centers will use holistic or alternative treatments. Alternative treatments can vary widely, from adventure therapies to horseback riding or art therapy. These treatments are designed to heal the entire person (body, mind, and spirit) to help them find the strength to live healthier and find motivation to live without their drug of choice. Many facilities will also combine multiple options to provide patients with a more complete approach.
Although there are outpatient treatment options for patients struggling with opioid dependence in South Dakota, the struggle with cravings and the risk of relapse means that many patients have a higher chance of success at an inpatient facility. Those who do pursue outpatient treatment should not have longstanding or intense drug use problems. These treatment centers generally use individual therapy and groups to help patients understand their substance abuse problem and find their way towards health.
Some patients who have already gone through inpatient treatment, however, may find outpatient treatment to benefit them once they leave the facility to help them maintain their sobriety.
Many treatment facilities in South Dakota will also offer different medications to help patients through the recovery process. Options include buprenorphine (Suboxone and Zubsolv), and methadone. These drugs are designed to activate some of the same parts of the brain as the opioids, but without creating a high, helping to block the craving and withdrawal so that patients can focus on the rest of their recovery and begin to live more productive lives. Some patients struggling with their cravings may find these medications helpful as they begin to stabilize their lives.
Treatment centers available in South Dakota
Keystone Treatment Center
The Keystone Treatment Center offers several different programs for patients. There are gender-specific adult residential programs, young adult residential programs, and adolescent residential programs. Patients also have access to a number of different types of therapy, including family therapy and treatment that is culturally and spiritually sensitive for Native Americans. The treatment center can also help patients throughout the spectrum of treatment, from detox through continuing care. Those who struggle with co-occurring disorders will also find the staff experienced and helpful with treating both diseases.
South Dakota Human Services Center
The South Dakota Human Services Center offers inpatient treatment for adults struggling with chemical dependency. The treatment at this center has been built around the ideas put forth in the Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous programs. The program operates on an individual level, with stays determined based upon the patient’s progress rather than a calendar.
The WellFully programs offers residential and outpatient programs specifically for adolescents. Patients receive individual assessments and one-on-one counseling to help them begin to take steps towards recovery. They also have locations in multiple areas throughout the state, helping to reach adolescents in trouble across several areas. This program encourages the participation of families throughout the treatment program. The inpatient program will not only help patients with their treatment, but also provides educational support. There is also a continued care program which helps patients continue to develop healthy skills with a weekly meeting.
For more information
Overcoming opioid dependence can be an emotionally and physically challenging journey. Patients and their loved ones should be equipped with the knowledge they need to succeed. We invite anyone with more questions about opioid treatment in South Dakota to contact us at DrugRehab.org. We are here to help you.