Addiction to prescription opioids and heroin has been a source of concern for citizens and addiction advocates for decades. Although the rates of misuse of prescription pain relievers and use of heroin have been in a holding pattern for several years, there are still many thousands of Washington residents who need help for their opioid addiction. For the over 300,000 Washingtonians who are at risk for developing a dependence or may already face addiction, recovery is possible.
How Does Opioid Addiction Start?
Opioids are a class of prescription medications that are designed to relieve pain and create a sense of euphoria in people who ingest them in some form. Many opioids are available as part of clinic or hospital treatment, or as a prescription to take at home. Opioids are called such due to their similarity to a chemical compound derived from opium poppies. Opioids may be made directly from the poppies, typically called “opiates,” or made synthetically. Common opioids in use today include morphine, tramadol, oxycodone, hydrocodone, and heroin (also called an opiate). Although many opioids are legal for regulated use in the United States, heroin is illegal.
Opioids are very commonly prescribed for Americans of all ages. In fact, 36.2 percent of people 12 and up report that they were prescribed opioids within the past year. Although opioid addiction is unusual, the easy accessibility of the drugs makes dependence and misuse relatively mainstream. Many people who develop a dependence and start to misuse prescription opioids begin with a legal prescription for a legitimate health concern. If they continue to use the product, their bodies may require higher dosages of the medication to achieve the same level of pain relief. As a result, about 289,000 Washington residents misused prescription pain relievers in the past year.
What Is Heroin?
Like other opioids, heroin binds to opioid receptors in the brain and gastrointestinal system that regulate pain control and other senses. Heroin—an opioid that is illegal for manufacture, sale, or use in the U.S.—is snorted, smoked, or injected into a vein. The use of heroin poses several problems for the user and society at-large. First, since heroin is illegal, local and national government officials cannot regulate its production to ensure that it is not mixed with even more deadly substances. Second, the injection of heroin, particularly in sharing or reuse of dirty needles, can contribute to the spread of diseases such as Hepatitis C or Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).
Although heroin has been used for many decades, it is not abused as commonly as prescription opioids. Approximately 24,000 Washingtonians used heroin in the past year, less than 10 percent of the number who misused prescription pain relievers. Many who use heroin say that they initially became dependent via prescription opioids after an injury or illness.
Where Does Heroin/Opioid Detox Fit Into A Treatment Plan?
Many people who have developed a dependence or substance use disorder for prescription opioids or heroin have a moment when they realize that they must discontinue use of the drug. As a person stops taking the drugs or cuts back significantly, the body begins to go through withdrawal. The process is typically called “detoxification” because it denotes the removal of the drug’s toxins out of the systems of the body. Detox from opioids can be a difficult experience due to the strong feelings of wanting to take the drug again and the additional side effects of nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Recent innovations in detox treatment indicate that the use of medical detox methods may be preferred to prevent a relapse. Medical detox is an approach that provides a patient with medications in a controlled setting to help them manage the symptoms of withdrawal, so that they can focus on a more complete recovery. Help provided by medical professionals to overcome withdrawal comfortably can make the detox process much easier.
How Does Inpatient Treatment Work?
One of the best ways to go through the entire process of detox and find a path to a life free of dependence on opioids is to enter into an inpatient treatment program. About 150,000 people in Washington need treatment for illicit drug dependence, but do not receive it. Inpatient treatment programs vary in length, intensity, and focus. Some programs are only a few weeks long, designed to help people through withdrawal and to get them started on a recovery plan that they can continue in an intense outpatient or lower-level outpatient program. The length of the program you choose depends on the severity of your opioid dependence.
The treatment facility of your choosing may offer a wide range of inpatient treatment facilities, each with its own focus. Therapy is a major component of addiction recovery, usually done in small groups or in individual treatment with a medical professional. The treatment may emphasize a cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) approach. CBT allows you to examine your behaviors very closely so that you can create healthy coping mechanisms for the difficulties you face on a regular basis. Your therapist may also recommend dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), which is more common for the addicted individuals who have a co-occurring mental illness along with a substance use disorder.
A facility may choose to deliver therapy in unique environments, with special activities that you may prefer. For example, some organizations offer so-called “adventure therapy,” which might put you in a wilderness or other setting as you go through treatment. You may also want to consider programs that tailor treatment to your particular spiritual affiliation. There are many other alternative methods as well, such as holistic therapy designed to treat the entire person.
What Is Outpatient Treatment Like?
While inpatient treatment is typically considered the best option for people dealing with opioid addiction, it can be complicated to take months off work or to live away from home. The quality of the outpatient program relies heavily on its level of intensity. Some outpatient programs are nearly as effective as inpatient, with an intensive daily schedule of activities and therapy that give you just enough time to go to bed to sleep at night. This underscores the importance of researching any particular facility you consider, so that you can select the program that meets your needs as fully as possible.
When Is Medication-Assisted Treatment Useful?
You might imagine that the most effective treatments for opioid addiction involve strict abstinence from all drugs, but the truth is actually quite different. Recent evidence suggests that, when combined with other therapies, medication-assisted treatment offers a great chance of conquering an opioid addiction for the long-term. In the early days or weeks of detox, you may experience very strong cravings for the drug, along with other withdrawal symptoms. Medications such as methadone help to deliver a slow-progressing dose of the drug to the system, resulting in a decrease of withdrawal symptoms. Buprenorphine similarly acts as an opioid agonist, promoting control over cravings and making it easier to avoid going back to using opioid abuse. If used in conjunction with naloxone, it can also help to prevent a relapse, because naloxone renders opioids less effective.
Opioid Treatment Centers In Washington
The key to a successful recovery from opioid addiction involves the selection of an appropriate treatment center for your needs. With hundreds of choices to make across the state of Washington, you can pick the facility that meets your expectations.
University of Washington Medical Center Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
If you are looking for a Seattle location with the widest variety of possible services, this facility may be ideal. With individualized psychotherapy and group therapy, treatment for co-occurring disorders and alternative approaches in an inpatient or outpatient format, you can consider this center appropriate for almost any kind of situation.
Spokane Addiction Recovery Centers Intensive Inpatient
Located in Spokane, this center specializes in inpatient drug rehab and aftercare in the form of sober living facilities. Emphasizing holistic and alternative therapies, this facility is also known for its faith-based drug rehab programs.
On San Juan Island, this Friday Harbor location offers short-term and long-term rehabilitation programs with a special emphasis on opioid addiction. The programs combine traditional therapies with medication-assisted treatment, and specialize in co-occurring mental health concerns.
These are only a few locations for you to consider. You may find an extensive selection of programs and treatment centers in a Washington city near you.
Get Help Today
Treating opioid addiction is a journey that many people in Washington have to make. If you or a loved one is currently battling opioid addiction, you should know that you are not alone. Visiting DrugRehab.org is an excellent first step to discovering additional resources and making a plan to overcome this addiction and create a better life. For assistance or more information about services available to Washington residents, contact us at DrugRehab.org.