Tag Archives: opiate addiction

Can Opiate Detox Facilities Help Manage Withdrawal Through Medication?

When abused, opiate drugs exert a hold on the mind and body that lingers for much longer than you might expect. The longer you abuse opiates the harder it is to stop taking these drugs. For these reasons, opiate detox facilities use medication treatment for withdrawal to help patients make it through the detox stage of recovery. Keep reading to see how opiates work on the brain’s chemical processes and how medication treatment for withdrawal can help you take back your life from addiction.

Opiate Effects on the Brain

Not too many types of drugs can interfere with the brain’s chemical makeup like opiates do. Opiate-based drugs, such as Vicodin, hydrocodone, codeine and heroin have a chemical composition that closely resembles that of certain neurotransmitter chemicals in the brain. Dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin neurotransmitters all share chemical compounds that are similar to opiates. These similarities enable opiate-based drugs to change the brain’s chemical makeup over time.

As opiates change the brain’s chemical system, the brain becomes increasingly dependent on opiates to function normally. As this takes place, the brain cells that interact with opiates become less sensitive to opiate effects over time. This means, larger doses of the drug are needed to keep the brain running as it should.

After a certain point, long-term abuse of opiates or taking large doses on a regular basis will disrupt the brain’s ability to regulate the body’s systems. Once this happens, a severe physical dependence on the drug has developed. The systems most affected by opiate dependence include:

  • The limbic system, which regulates emotions
  • Cognitive-based systems, which regulate thinking and behavior
  • Sleep cycles
  • The reward system, which regulates learning and motivation

Opiate Detox Withdrawal Effects

Opiate detox facilities focus on easing the withdrawal effects that occur when opiate use stops. Withdrawal effects reflect the state of disarray the body is in due to the chemical imbalances caused by opiate abuse. When opiate abuse stops, the brain can’t yet produce the number of neurotransmitters needed to keep the body’s systems running normally. As a result, the following withdrawal effects occur:

  • Severe depression
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever and profuse sweating
  • Anxiety
  • Tremors
  • Mental fog

Opiate detox facilities use medication treatment for withdrawal to help the brain’s chemical system adjust to detox. In the absence of some form of medication support, withdrawal effects can quickly overwhelm your efforts to stop using. When this happens, the risk of relapse runs especially high.

Treating Opiate Withdrawal With Medication

While many may believe overcoming addiction is a matter of willpower, opiate addiction is a chronic physical condition, much like heart disease and diabetes. Long-term opiate abuse leaves behind long-term damage in the brain. Medications used to treat opiate withdrawal support the brain’s chemical processes so that it can function normally. The severity of your abuse problem will determine how you’ll need to keep taking medication.

Medications Used to Treat Opiate Withdrawal

Medication-based treatments for opiate withdrawal use specially formulated, opiate-derived drugs that interact with the same brain neurotransmitter processes as opiates. These medications produce controlled effects that don’t set off the abuse-addiction cycle like heroin and prescription painkillers do. In turn, these controlled effects work to wean the brain and body off addictive opiates.

Two medications -methadone and Suboxone- are commonly used in the treatment of opiate withdrawal. When ingested on a daily basis, these medications relieve the effects of withdrawal and also help reduce drug cravings. Methadone and Suboxone differ in how they accomplish these ends.

Methadone is a full opiate agonist, meaning it helps the brain produce needed levels of neurotransmitter chemicals. As a controlled substance, opiate detox facilities must distribute methadone on a daily basis. In this way, overdose risks can be prevented.

Suboxone contains two medications: buprenorphine and naloxone. Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist. It has a built-in ceiling effect that greatly lowers the risk for overdose. This mechanism also prevents patients from getting high on the drug.

Naloxone, the second ingredient, acts as an opioid antidote. As an opioid antidote, naloxone acts as a safety precaution by triggering severe withdrawal in cases where patients try to dissolve and inject Suboxone. Unlike methadone, Suboxone can be prescribed by a doctor so there’s no need for daily visits to a clinic facility.

If you’re considering medication treatments for opiate withdrawal or have more questions about how it all works, our addiction counselors can help. Call us today at 800-737-0933 and find out how to get started.

OTC Medication Used for Opiate Withdrawal Found Deadly

emergmedjournIt is a very common thing among addicts to share things with each other revolving around getting high. However, unless it is something like food or a place to get help, most of the information and resources turn out to be harmful. For example, sharing needles causes the spread of infections and diseases.

In other cases they pass along “tips” about how to either alter an experience, sustain a high or reduce discomfort in some way. One of these things recently examined was the use of an over-the-counter drug called loperamide. It is most commonly found in the anti-diarrhea drug Imodium, but in this case is taken in larger doses to lessen the severity of withdrawal symptoms or even abused to get high.

A new study published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine found that loperamide abuse can actually be very deadly. It is a drug that agonizes opioid receptors but doesn’t generate a high in the small recommended dosages. However, in much larger doses it can generate euphoric effects, but also causes irregular heartbeats and even death.

Apparently a growing number of opiate addicts have been taking Imodium and other OTC medications containing loperamide to cut down on their withdrawal symptoms or they abuse it in place of other opioids.

“Because of its low cost, ease of accessibility and legal status, it’s a drug that is very, very ripe for abuse,” said the study’s lead author William Eggleston, a doctor of pharmacy and fellow in clinical toxicology at the Upstate New York Poison Center. “At [our center], we have had a sevenfold increase in calls related to loperamide use and misuse over the last four years.”

Eggleston and his colleagues urge officials to be more aware of this drug and its abuse, and recommend placing more restrictions on it, similar to what was done with pseudoephedrine several years ago.

The President Targets Opiate Addiction

obamaopioidsDespite the fact that elected officials in several states have openly vowed to address the prescription painkiller and heroin problems, there hasn’t been much talk coming from the White House on the subject. Some people in the drug rehab and prevention field have criticized the President for this, as the problem has escalated substantially over the last several years.

However, President Obama recently announced an initiative while at a public appearance in West Virginia that described an approach to target more of the system than individual users. For example, there is the commitment that more than half a million healthcare professionals will complete opioid prescriber training over the next two years. This is an effort to reduce the unnecessarily large amount of opioids being given to people, especially when other treatments might be more effective and much less dangerous.

At the same time, the White House aims to double the number of doctors who are certified to prescribe buprenorphine for opiod addiction over the next three years. That would push the total to around 60,000 physicians. Additionally, the intent is to double the number of providers that prescribe naloxone and the number who are registered with their prescription drug monitoring programs.

“More Americans now die every year from drug overdoses than they do from motor vehicle crashes,” Mr. Obama said. “The majority of those overdoses involve legal prescription drugs. I don’t have to tell you, this is a terrible toll.”

Many in the treatment industry are applauding these efforts, but some are wondering if they are sufficient considering the size of the problem.

The nation is currently in the process of a drug policy overhaul, and the heroin and prescription narcotic crisis is one of the main catalysts forcing this change. It will take a major commitment on many fronts to have a significant impact and reverse the trends, though there are some recent signs that opioid addiction may at least be leveling off instead of increasing.

Of course on an individual level, finding a successful treatment program like Genesis House is one of the most effective first steps toward ending the abuse.