What is the Best Treatment for Opioid Addiction?
The best treatment for opioid addiction begins with a proper detox. Physically, withdrawal is perhaps the most significant immediate consequence of opioid addiction and what forces most people to remain on opioids.
The two most common options are medically supervised detox (withdrawal management) to become entirely drug-free or begin medication-assisted treatment before treatment and then become drug-free. Either way, detox is necessary, and medications are used to alleviate withdrawal symptoms. The next steps in treatment include the following:
- Long-term inpatient drug rehab. The reality of opioid addiction is that most people have a lengthy history of use, whether beginning with dependency or an existing addiction. A more prolonged program is the best option to address underlying issues and provide adequate time for initial sobriety.
- Aftercare support is critical. The best thing for recovering opioid drug users is peer support meetings or sober living homes. The risk of relapse is dangerous because there is a significant overdose risk when a former opioid user is sober if they attempt to use the same amount of drugs as before they went to rehab.
Opioid Treatment Programs (OTPs) are also common. These programs usually feature the supervised use of medications to lessen cravings, treat withdrawal symptoms, block the effects of other opioids, and lower the risk of overdose death. The programs also often include some type of behavioral therapy.
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What type of drug are opioids?
Opioids are a broad category of drugs that affect the opioid receptors of the human brain, causing euphoria and pain reduction. Included in this class of drugs are many different substances, illicit and controlled. Some opioids like fentanyl are used as a prescription drug to treat severe pain and are also manufactured illicitly. Opioids are highly addictive and deadly, and their overuse in America has led to a nationwide drug epidemic that continues to grow.
What do opioids look like?
Opioids can vary widely in shape, size, color, and consistency. Many of them exist in pill form. There are also liquid preparations of opioids for oral and IV use, pain patches, etc. Opioids also exist in illicit forms like black tar heroin or fentanyl powder.
How long do opioids stay in your system?
On average, it takes a few days to rid the body of opioids after consumption. Opioids stay in the human body for varying lengths, depending on the type consumed. Some opioids are long-acting and can take weeks to clear the system, like methadone. Others like fentanyl leave the system rapidly and may only be detectable in the urine for a day or two after using them. But most opioids have a duration of action of four to six hours and therefore are metabolized and excreted over 72 hours.
Why are opioids so deadly?
Opioids are so deadly because of their potential to cause an overdose. Opioid overdose is extremely dangerous because opioids depress breathing. Victims die from lack of oxygen almost uniformly. Suffocation is preceded by unconsciousness, so it can be too late if no one is around when they overdose and aren’t discovered within a few minutes. Opioid overdose reversal drugs like Narcan have become crucial in the fight, saving many lives since being approved. But even though Narcan can reverse an opioid overdose, it cannot undo the effects of oxygen depletion.
How are opioids used?
Opioids can be used in various ways, with the most prevalent methods consisting of oral ingestion and intravenous injection. Mainly, prescription opioids are abused by oral consumption, and illicit opioids like heroin by IV use. There can certainly be exceptions and many other ways to consume opioids. However, these are the most common.
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