Opioid abuse is defined as an individual not taking his or her medication as prescribed and using the prescription to get high. Opiate addiction is a serious epidemic and, currently, a public health crisis. Typically, a person addicted to opioids is treated with medicines, behavioral and counseling therapies, medication-assisted therapy, and hospital- and residential-based treatment. Here are the four most commonly used medicines to treat opioid addiction.
Methadone has been used for over 50 years as a successful treatment for those addicted to opiates. When used appropriately, it’s one of the safest and most effective forms of addiction medication. MD Edge explains, “methadone provides the patient with pain relief by blocking the receptors in the brain that opioids affect. It eliminates or reduces the terrible withdrawal symptoms and cravings associated with opioid addiction to prevent relapse.” The changes in brain chemistry take much longer in a detox program. Most patients will benefit from a single dose as the effects last between 24 and 36 hours. On the flip side, methadone will show up on a drug test for employment, and making daily visits to the methadone clinic may be difficult for some.
According to Right Path, “in 2002, a different medication was introduced to the market designed to address a new approach for treating those suffering from opioid addiction called Buprenorphine.” Suboxone is a trade name for a drug made up of four parts of an opioid called Buprenorphine and one part opioid antagonist, Naloxone. Suboxone changed the game because it provides relief from withdrawal symptoms and cravings by blocking opiate receptors in the brain. It’s combined with buprenorphine and naloxone making it unlike its competitors. If an addict uses opiates while on Suboxone, it will induce nausea, vomiting, sweating, and restlessness, making Suboxone a deterrent from opioids. Unfortunately, Suboxone also has the potential for becoming addictive itself with long-term or repeated use.
Naltrexone blocks the adverse effects that opioids have on the brain. Users will not experience euphoria or the sedative effects of opiates. According to Cochrane, “unlike other medications that are designed to reduce cravings, naltrexone eliminates the desire to take opioids completely. If you are currently dependent on opiates, naltrexone will trigger painful withdrawal symptoms.”
It’s difficult and dangerous to come off of opioids cold turkey. Opiate withdrawal symptoms are extremely unpleasant and usually result in the addict choosing to use again. Withdrawal can last anywhere from a few hours to several weeks. It’s vital to seek medically-assisted detoxification through a facility, especially if you have a long history of opioid abuse.
If you or a family member are ready to get help, seek help immediately. There are several resources and clinics available that can ease the painful symptoms of withdrawal and help you succeed.
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