Tag Archives: Opioid Drugs

Who Is At Risk of Abusing Opioid Medications?

America finds itself caught in an opioid addiction epidemic. Prescription painkillers, heroin and the ever-dangerous fentanyl are dominating the headlines for all the wrong reasons. If you are suffering from an addiction to any kind of opioid, you’re facing some very serious long-term repercussions if you don’t get help. We hope you realize that, which is why you are looking for information.

With your need for information in mind, we want to encourage you to get help now. To help motivate you, we want to tell you about the treatment process. Hopefully, this will put your mind at ease and let you know what to expect. Much of our focus is going to be placed on the detox process and the use of detox medications.

When you locate the right treatment facility based on your needs, you’ll likely go through an intake interview. The facility’s clinician is simply gathering information about your addiction profile. From this profile, they should be able to determine the proper course of treatment.

Tapering Detox Programs – The Risk of Abuse

While therapy and aftercare are important aspects of treatment, it’s all predicated on the addiction sufferer successfully getting past withdrawal and their cravings. It would be a mistake to underestimate the importance of a detox program, especially for someone with an addiction to opioids. Remember, the withdrawal symptoms associated with opioid addiction can be quite dangerous. We are talking about symptoms such as:

  • Respiratory and circulatory issues
  • Severe muscle spasms in the stomach and extremity regions
  • Psychological issues such as anxiety and depression
  • Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
  • Sleeping issues

The point of a detox program is to help clients get through these withdrawal symptoms with a minimum of discomfort. If the client does encounter discomfort, the detox facility’s medical staff has the option to prescribe certain medications for relief.

That brings us to a very serious discussion. There are times when a client enters rehab with a very significant addiction to an opioid substance. If the addiction is deep-rooted enough, a standard detox program might not suffice as far as keeping the client safe. That’s when a tapering program becomes the best solution. In a tapering program, a doctor will prescribe medications like Suboxone or Methadone to help ease the client away from their addiction. The process could take weeks instead of months, but it’s necessary for the welfare of the client.

Unfortunately, tapering medications are derivatives of the substances being treated. That makes them addictive. That raises an important question: “Who Is At Risk of Abusing Opioid Medications?” The short answer is anyone who misuses the prescribed medications.

Given the fact these drugs are addictive unto themselves, they must be taken as the doctor prescribes. The doctor’s job is to monitor the client’s progress to assure everything is going as the doctor planned. If the client takes larger doses or takes a tapering drug more often than prescribed, it’s substance abuse. As you can imagine, substituting one addiction for another is not good. The client is obligated to follow the doctor’s instructions or risk further problems.

After going through a detox program, the client should be ready for the rest of the treatment process.

Addiction Therapy

Therapy is the meat and potatoes of addiction treatment. This is the opportunity for the client to identify the personal issues that are driving their desire to hide behind a harmful substance. To get to that point, the client has to be willing to speak openly and honestly with the therapist. With the therapist’s direction, the real issues should become apparent.

After identifying the issues at hand, the client has the opportunity to develop very specific coping skills they can use to combat their problems. With the right coping skills, relapses can be avoided.

Aftercare Programs

After the client has completed treatment, they have to leave rehab and begin living life on life’s terms. The good news is they don’t have to do that alone. The rehab facility should be able to offer them access to aftercare programs the client can use as support resources. The best support resources include outpatient counseling, sober living options and 12-Step meetings.

If you have an addiction to opioids, you have to be cautious. Your overall well-being is at risk. We would like to recommend you let us help you arrest your addiction and reclaim your life. If you are ready to start treatment, please call us at 123-456-7890.

What Are the Similarities and Differences Between Different Opioid Drugs?

Opioid is the general term for a narcotic derived, ultimately, from the opium poppy. Opiates are natural opioids. Some of these drugs are prescribed to control pain while others, such as heroin, are illegal. All of them are similar in that they lock into receptors in the central nervous system, which is made up of the brain and the spinal cord.

Opioids can be problematic because along with pain relief many of them cause an intense euphoria when they are taken. This can lead to dependence and addiction. People can overdose on opioids, though the symptoms can be reversed by taking an opioid antagonist called naloxone. Naloxone also locks into opioid receptors, but it doesn’t produce the euphoria associated with opioids such as heroin. Here are some opioids:

Heroin

Heroin or diamorphine is a synthetic opioid made from morphine, which is an opiate. Though it was created as a pain reliever by the same people who developed aspirin, heroin is now illegal. When it is pure, it is a white powder, though as a street drug it is rarely used in its pure form. It is snorted, smoked or injected. A type of heroin called black tar resembles asphalt and gets its color from the impurities that remain after it’s been processed.

The drug can easily pass through the blood-brain barrier, a physiological system that usually protects the brain from toxins. Once there, the body converts heroin into morphine, which then binds to mu-opioid receptors. The person feels a rush that can be very intense and may be accompanied by nausea and vomiting. After the rush, the person grows drowsy and “nods off.” Other initial effects of heroin are:

• Reduced mental function
• Slowed heart rate
• Slowed breathing
• Constipation

These symptoms appear because heroin, like all opioids, is a central nervous system depressant. A person who takes too much heroin can die if their breathing and heart rate are drastically slowed down by the drug.

Fentanyl

Unlike heroin, fentanyl is legal but strictly controlled. Like other opioids, it is prescribed for pain. It is also 80 to 100 times stronger than morphine. An analog of fentanyl, carfentanil, is 100 times stronger than fentanyl. Both are used to ease the pain of end-stage cancer. Like heroin, dependency can develop with fentanyl, especially if the person takes it for a long time. Unlike heroin, it is not injected or snorted, but comes in the form of a tablet placed under the tongue, a film placed on the skin, a lozenge meant to dissolve slowly between the patient’s gum and cheek or a lollipop. A patient who is taking fentanyl must be monitored by and work closely with their doctor.

A person who is on fentanyl should not drink grapefruit juice or eat grapefruit. This is true if the patient is using any type of opioid, because grapefruit has a chemical that stops the body from metabolizing opioids. This intensifies the effect of the drug and can lead to sudden death even if the fruit or the juice is taken hours after the person has taken their opioid drug.

Methadone

Methadone is also a legal opioid, but it is different from the others in that it is used to wean a patient from their dependency on another opioid. It can only be prescribed through an opioid treatment program, or OTP that is certified by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Methadone is also used to treat pain, including the pain of withdrawal from other opioids such as heroin. It is taken once a day as a pill, a liquid or a wafer under a doctor’s supervision and at a dosage that is tailored to the needs of the patient. Many patients need to go to a clinic to take their dose of methadone if they are using it to quit another opioid. When they are seen to be reliable and stable, they can take the drug home with them.

Like other opioids, a person can become addicted to methadone, so it is crucial that they take it exactly as their doctor prescribed. This is especially true of patients who can take the drug home with them.

There are many other types of opioids, including hydromorphone, hydrocodone, oxymorphone and codeine. They are powerful, pain-killing drugs that have made the lives of many patients bearable, but the risk of abusing and even dying from these drugs is considerable if they are misused. If you feel you have a problem with opioids, don’t hesitate to call us today. Our counselors are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Call us at 123-456-7890.