What Role Does Medication Play in Opiate Addiction Treatment?

Every opiate addiction treatment program will be a bit different than the others because there are so many approaches to and philosophies of care. Behavioral therapies are the most common component, but it isn’t unusual for a program to use medication-assisted care as a form of treatment. Opiate addiction is like alcohol addiction in that it has medications specifically approved for use in treating it. Whereas stimulant and inhalant addiction do not.

The following should help you better understand the role of treating opiate addiction with medications.

opiate addiction treatment

Why Are Medications Used as Part of Addiction to Opiate Treatment?

Certainly, the severity of opiate withdrawal is the stuff of legend. Television and film have depicted the process in gritty detail. But, even that fails to fully convey the lengthy, painful nature of opiate withdrawal. This is one reason that the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration views the treatment of withdrawal without the use of medication to be inhumane, as it produces “needless suffering in a population that tends to have limited tolerance for physical pain.”

Further, the cravings often disrupt recovery entirely, which is why medication can be used to lessen opiate use and assist abstinence attempts.

What Medications Are Used as Part of Addiction to Opiate Treatment?

There are three classes of medication:

  • Agonists (methadone) activate opiate receptors
  • Partial agonists (buprenorphine) activate receptors as well, but produce a smaller response
  • Antagonists (naltrexone) block the receptor and disrupt the rewarding effects of opiates

What Outcomes Are Attributed to Medication-Assisted Treatment?

According to the Methadone Research Web Guide, produced by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, research has shown the effectiveness of methadone treatment, as measured by:

  • Lessened needle sharing
  • Lessened use of illicit drugs
  • Lessened criminal activity
  • Lessened HIV transmission and infection rates
  • Lessened incidence of suicide
  • Lessened incidence of fatal overdose
  • Lessened commercial sex work
  • Lessened number of reports of multiple sex partners
  • Improved health
  • Improved productivity and social health
  • Retention in opiate addiction treatment

Is Opiate Addiction Treatment Truly Necessary? Signs You Need Addiction to Opiate Treatment

Denial is a huge part of opiate addiction. After all, if you fully admitted to yourself the depth of your compulsive drug seeking and use, you would try to stop and the addiction can’t let you do that. Your brain and your body begin compensating for the presence of opiates and they grow to the point that they cannot function without the opiates. You must keep using them to feel “normal.” You will continue using just to avoid opiate addiction treatment.

However, if you are beginning to see through all the lies you tell yourself you might have an inkling that your problem is bigger than you think. If you suspect that you need opiate addiction treatment but you still have a bit of denial in place, consider the following questions.

Do You Have Tolerance?

Do you need larger amounts of opiates to get the same effect you originally enjoyed? Has using the same amount of opiates produced less of an effect?

Do You Experience Withdrawals?

When you stop using the opiates, do you feel unwell? Do you continue using to avoid the symptoms that set in when you stop?

Can You No Longer Control Your Use?

Do you try to limit the amount that you use but end up taking more than you decided that you would or use it for longer than you planned?

Do You Want to Cut Down?

Have you failed in your attempts to cut back or stop using even when you feel really determined about it?

Do Opiates Take Up a Lot of Your Time?

Are you spending most of your time getting opiates, using opiates, and recovering from opiate use?

If you are answering yes to these questions, you likely need opiate addiction treatment. Of course, addiction to opiate treatment won’t fix everything without effort on your part. But, if you remained present and engaged throughout an addiction to opiate treatment program, you will achieve positive results.

Is the Foster Care System My Only Option While I Am in Addiction to Opiate Treatment? How to Attend Opiate Addiction Treatment When You Are a Parent

treat opiate abuse

When you are a parent, good one or a bad one, the idea of losing your children is heartbreaking. This is why so many people find themselves unable to attend treatment for opiate addiction. What are they supposed to do with their parenting and family responsibilities? On one hand, you know that you need to get help; you can’t let your opiate addiction continue and worsen. On the other, you can’t do that without finding childcare. In some cases, people put their children in the foster care system short term.

Why Would I Place My Children in Foster Care?

Many people who are addicted to opiates are isolated. Your only close friends may be other opiate users. You may have pushed you family away, as well. If there is no one left in your life that you can trust with your children, you may have no other way to enter inpatient addiction to opiate treatment. But, that is no good to your children either.

Often, a placement in foster care for a short while gives your children a safe place to live while you get the help that you need. At the close of your treatment, you can take them back into your care.

Is There Another Option?

Inpatient care requires you to live in the opiate addiction treatment program, but outpatient programs don’t. If you are in an outpatient program, you can simply attend sessions at scheduled times and still be home to make sure that you can get dinner together and get your life together. Also, outpatient care will let you continue going to work, so that your income can remain stable and you and your children can avoid eviction or other unfortunate results of a decrease in your monetary intake. Plus, outpatient rehab is less expensive.

Is Outpatient Treatment Enough?

If you have a severe opiate addiction or have been in treatment before and not had positive outcomes, you may require inpatient addiction to opiate treatment. However, in other cases, outpatient opiate addiction treatment is quite likely to help you achieve abstinence for opiates and other substances, as well as enable you to regain control of your life.

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