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What is opioid addiction?
These days, opioid addiction cases are getting more prevalent, due to the easy access to these substances. It has become a prominent problem as 78 people die due to an opioid overdose on a daily basis, while 46 overdose on prescribed pain killers.
‘Opioid’ is a term that refers to substances that clump together with a group of receptors in the central nervous system, called opioid receptors. They can be either organic or man-made. A brand of opioid called endorphins is produced naturally in the brain and they trigger waves of happiness. On the other hand, opioids from plants known as opiates are retrieved from the seed of the opium poppy plant, which includes opium, morphine, and codeine. The semi-synthetic opioid is heroin, while the synthetic ones include oxycodone, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, and many others.
Treatment of opioid addiction
In comparison to putting a stop to alcohol addiction or sedative use, giving up on opioid drugs is typically not risky. However, it is still important to undergo detoxification under professional guidance especially if you are suffering from certain risk factors. For individuals with underlying health issues like cardiovascular disease, the withdrawal symptoms from cutting down on drug intake may worsen the condition. For pregnant women, they are at risk of a miscarriage when they undergo detoxification.
There are many ways in which people can cut down or quit opioid drug intake, and most are able to do it without medical treatment. Others may opt to go through a proper treatment and rehabilitation services from centers like Desert Hope Treatment that involves taking medication to reduce cravings and deal with withdrawal symptoms.
Tips on cutting back on opioid drugs intake
Many people suffering from opioid addiction may choose to reduce and alleviate the negative side effects instead of completely quitting. However, most will realize that stopping drug use is the most viable option in the long run. Regardless of whether you want to cut down or quit altogether, consulting a medical professional to give you advice and recommend a suitable treatment will greatly benefit you. These are some tips that will help you have an easier recovery process:
- Write it down on paper
Coming up with a physical list of reasons of why you should cut down or quit your addiction will greatly motivate you and concretize your improvement plan. Include things like being healthier, having better sleeping habits or rebuilding relationships to help you see the importance of quitting.
- Set goals
Setting aims for your drug intake can greatly help you to visualize your plan and stick to the limit that you permit yourself to take each day.
- Log diary entries
Pen down your progress in a book to document your rate of progress. Include information like the amount you took, the location at which you were at and which drugs you took to keep yourself accountable. Use this as a tracker to make sure that you stick to your goals, and discuss your progress with your medical professionals or doctors if you meet challenges along the way.
- Make your home drug-free
Avoid storing any opioid drugs in your medicine cabinets and drawers to reduce the temptation and effectively cut down on drug intake. Remember — out of sight, out of mind!
- Allocate drug-free days for yourself
Choosing specific days of the week as drug-free days will help your body to progressively cope with the absence of drugs in your life. Some may even want to avoid drugs for a few days or weeks straight as it will incredibly decrease their body’s reliance on the drug.
- Avoid peer-pressure
You shouldn’t feel obliged to always accept when someone offers you a drug. Learn to refuse and stand firm to your plan to quit. Staying away from a bad company that encourages you to take drugs may also do the trick.
- Keep yourself occupied
Constantly find things to do in order to keep your mind busy so that you will not be thinking about the drug all the time. Find a new past time, pick up a new sport or cook a new dish whenever you’re bored. Keeping yourself busy will force your brain to slowly dissociate drugs from your daily life.
- Seek support
Never be afraid to seek professional social support from counselors or therapists when feelings start to overwhelm you. You can also turn to your friends or family to lend you a listening ear. Learning how to rely less on drugs is indeed a challenging journey and having a strong support system will make the road a lot easier.
- Stay persistent
A large majority of people who manage to achieve their goals are those who stay resilient amidst their setbacks. You are definitely going to face many challenges as you embark on this tough journey, but if you set your mind to do it, you will yield success at the end. Once you’ve successfully reached your aim, always remember to monitor yourself to prevent future relapses. When you realize that your old habits are starting to resurface, visit your doctor to see if there are any medications to help your situation.
Dealing with withdrawal symptoms
Opioids are known for severe withdrawal symptoms that individuals experience when they attempt to cut down or quit drugs due to the body’s overdependence on them. These withdrawal symptoms include restlessness, insomnia, diarrhea, and nausea. These symptoms typically last for a week for most individuals. However, others may still experience insomnia and increased irritability over several months.
To combat this, there are certain medications for opioid addiction that may help you by reducing cravings and help with detoxification. Studies have shown that medically assisted treatment (MAT) which is a mixture of both medication and psychosocial treatments, is the most effective in curbing opioid addiction. It has been reported that patients on medications like buprenorphine or methadone have a 50% less chance of falling back to old habits, while other statistics show that they are also 50% less likely to die from the addiction.
Moreover, it is imperative to know about some FDA-approved medications like buprenorphine, methadone, ganaxolone, and naltrexone. These medications have been proven to significantly ease withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings.
If you have started taking medication that contains opioids to ease your chronic pain, there are some methods that you can try for pain relief. Some of these include applying heat and cold to the pain, exercising frequently, losing weight, physical therapy and occupational therapy, ultrasound, cold laser therapy, and many others.
In a nutshell, even though treating opioid drug addictions are easier than others, it is certainly no easy feat. It takes a lot of persistence and determination from the individual in order to overcome all setbacks, and push forward to achieve a drug-free life. With enough support and suitable medication, if needed, you will be able to conquer the addiction in no time.