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Opioid Addiction Treatment Services

An opioid epidemic is currently affecting the United States. It’s a public health crisis according to the national institute on drug abuse. It is so severe that it is killing more than 130 Americans every day. Opioids are the cause of these overdose-related fatalities: the abuse and addiction to opioids is causing casualties here and there. These drugs include prescription pain relievers, heroin, and even Fentanyl. They are often prescribed for treatments of pain as well as mental health.
 
This is a serious national crisis that affects public health and even has effects on the economy and society itself. Research studies have shown that lawsuits are being filed here and there against some of the largest drug manufacturing companies in the country, which are allegedly at the center of the epidemic. Treatment options are available for those that need it.
 

Big Pharma And Addiction

Drug makers like Johnson & Johnson, Teva Pharmaceuticals, and Purdue Pharma want people to stop talking about an epidemic. As consumers, we should stop taking opioids if we have developed a tolerance or dependence on them. Big pharma companies are facing numerous lawsuits for their alleged role in spreading the epidemic. The drug enforcement administrations are really ramping up their initiatives to hold big pharma accountable.
 
These companies are being accused of using misleading marketing techniques to downplay the addictive qualities of their opioid products.
 
Purdue Pharma in particular is facing around 1,000 lawsuits, with some of them naming different members of the Sackler family who runs the company. Purdue is the maker of OxyContin, a prescription opioid.
 
The drug manufacturers are reaching settlements with various states. Teva Pharmaceuticals, for example, recently reached an $85 million settlement with the state of Oklahoma, emphasizing that the company has not committed any wrongdoings.
 
The settlements reached so far will be used to fund various addiction treatment efforts and other programs that aim to combat the opioid epidemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the total “economic burden” of prescription opioid misuse alone in the US is $78.5 billion a year. This includes the costs of healthcare, lost productivity, addiction treatment, and criminal justice involvement.
 
To fully grasp the scale of the opioid crisis, it is necessary to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. With statistics, facts, and some common knowledge regarding the drugs in question, people will be able to understand the magnitude of the problem, and hopefully contribute towards fighting the epidemic.
 

How Did the Opioid Crisis Begin?

In the late 1990s, pharmaceutical companies reassured the medical community that patients wouldn’t get addicted to the prescription pain relievers they were making.People seeking pain relief for acute pain were using pain medicines that were simply inadequate to give them effective treatment. Seeing the effectiveness of opioids in terms of managing pain, healthcare providers started prescribing them at greater rates.
 
This subsequently led to widespread diversion and misuse of these medications—even before it became clear that the drugs are indeed highly addictive. This was medically sound practice at the time, but now we know it was subpar medical care. Synthetic opioids and opioid overdose rates subsequently began to increase. In 2017, more than 47,000 Americans died as a result of opioid overdose, including prescription pain medications like opioids, heroin, and illicitly manufactured Fentanyl.
 
Also in 2017, an estimated 1.7 million people in the US suffered from substance use disorders related to prescription opioid pain relievers. About 652,000 suffered from a heroin use disorder. This same year, the Trump administration declared the opioid epidemic. Before we look into what opioids are and what they do, here are some quick statistics regarding the opioid crisis:
Roughly 21 to 29 percent of patients prescribed opioids for chronic pain misuse them. Meanwhile, between 8 and 12 percent develop an opioid disorder after getting a prescription for it.
 
An estimated 4 to 6 percent of those who misuse prescription opioids later transition to heroin. In fact, about 80 percent of people who use heroin first misused prescription opioids. The safe disposal of opioids is another matter. Water levels in major cities have been found to have been heavily contaminated with prescription drugs.
 
From July 2016 through September 2017, opioid overdoses increased by 30 percent in 52 areas in 45 states. The Midwestern region saw opioid overdoses increase by 70 percent during that same time period. Now it’s time to talk about the drugs that are in the center of the US history’s deadliest drug crisis.
 

What are Opioids?

Prescription opioids and heroin, are not the same thing. Read this article to learn the difference between opioids and opiates.  Opioids are synthetic substances that are often prescribed as painkillers. They work well for the treatment of pain ranging from moderate to severe. Most over the counter drugs could not handle severe or chronic pain, and so strong substances like opioids are necessary to provide comfort for patients. Cancer pain, post-surgical pain, and traumatic pain are some of the conditions that require medications like opioids.
 
The problem, however, is the fact that these medications are very potent. A user can easily get hooked on it if they are not careful. Some people can start abusing this substance even if they did not mean to use their prescription recreationally. The substances attach to the body’s naturally occurring opioid receptors. And because opioids help the brain relax, it becomes very addictive for pain management. Opioids don’t just treat pain, they also produce euphoric effects that can provide short term health care benefits. They make the patient feel good, however there are several risk factors. This is often enough to get them addicted. Patients take the drug even when they are already suffering from its adverse effects. This compulsive desire to take a certain drug defines addictive behavior.
 
If you find yourself taking more opioids than you’re supposed to, talk to your doctor immediately. Unfortunately, opioids are prescription drugs, meaning they are easily accessible for those who want to abuse them. Recently, however, healthcare providers are more hesitant to prescribe them. This solves one problem and opens up another issue entirely: those who actually need opioids for their chronic pain are now struggling to refill their prescriptions. This only goes to show how deep and complex the opioid problem really is. There is no single solution that fits all. Lawmakers and the medical industry need to take a closer look at potential answers to the opioid crisis.
 

What’s the Difference between Opioids and Opiates?

People often hear opiates and opioids being used in the same sentence, and sometimes interchangeably. But opioids and opiates are technically different from one another. Opioids are the synthetic and semi-synthetic derivatives of the opium poppy plant. On the other hand, opiates are the natural derivatives. However, these two types of substances are used for the exact same purpose: managing pain. But due to their similarities, opioids and opiates are often compared. It is also worth noting that opiates and opioids are both referred to as ‘narcotics’ in the medical industry. In law enforcement, it doesn’t matter if a drug is an opioid or not—if it’s an illegal drug, they consider it a narcotic.
 

What are the Different Types of Opioids?

Opioids come in many different forms. There are immediate release products that help treat acute and chronic pain. There are also extended-release opioids that are typically used to treat chronic pain. Both types are intended to be used exactly as prescribed, instead of “as needed”. Opioid-only products include buprenorphine, hydromorphone, oxycodone, oxymorphone, tapentadol, and tramadol.  Buprenorphine is also one of the most effective drugs against opioid addiction. Even though it is an opioid, it does not cause a high, and so patients are not at risk of addiction. Furthermore, it blocks cravings and keeps it under control. This is perfect for those who are undergoing addiction treatment.
 
Other opioids are combined with other substances to form brand new products. Each combination drug has a different purpose. Examples of opioid combination drugs are: acetaminophen/codeine, morphine/naltrexone, and oxycodone/aspirin. In recreational settings, opioids are chewed, snorted, and even injected directly into the bloodstream. The last method is done to achieve an instantaneous effect. It also puts the person at risk of blood-borne illnesses. Abusing opioids may lead to tolerance, dependence, and addiction.
 

Opioids and the Brain

As we previously mentioned, opioids attach to the body and alter the way it perceives pain. But more specifically, opioids bind to the so-called opioid receptors in the brain and spinal cord. They block incoming pain messages that are entering the brain. It provides, relief, comfort, and euphoria. Opioids stimulate the brain’s reward system, and that’s what makes people want to keep taking them over and over.
Opioids may not respond well to other pain medications, which is why patients should always follow their doctor’s instructions carefully. While opioids are certainly helpful for some patients, their dangerous side effects should not be underestimated. For reference, it is generally a bad idea to take larger doses of opioids than is prescribed. Patients should also avoid taking the drug more often than they are supposed to.
 
After taking opioid pain medications for a while, a patient may feel like they need more and more to achieve the same effect. This is because the body can easily adapt to the drug’s presence. This is called tolerance. It may not be the same as addiction, but one can easily lead to the other. When a person takes an opioid medication over an extended period of time, they can also develop physical dependence. The brain adapts to the drug’s constant presence and becomes dependent. If the person abruptly quits taking the drug, they will experience severe withdrawal symptoms.
 
Common withdrawal symptoms include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, muscle pain, anxiety, irritability, etc. The severity of withdrawal symptoms will depend on the patient’s drug habits, the drug choice, and other factors such as physical health. Of course, there is always the constant risk of an opioid overdose. This can happen at any point, and it could be fatal. When you are prescribed with opioid pain medications, talk with your doctor regularly. Tell them if you’re experiencing any side effects. Also, tell them if you are experiencing the habit-forming qualities of these prescription drugs. You can easily get addicted if you disregard your prescription: the proper dosage and schedule, etc.
 

Opioid Abuse and Addiction Statistics

Millions of Americans use opioids to manage their pain. And while doctor-prescribed opioids are appropriate in some cases, reliance on opioids is a different story entirely. This reliance on opioids has led to the worst drug crisis in American history. Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and the US Department of Health and Human Services reveal the gravity of the problem.
 
In 2016, healthcare providers across the US wrote more than 214 million prescriptions for opioid pain medications. This is a rate of 66.5 prescriptions per 100 people. In fact, as many as 1 in 5 people receive prescription opioids long-term for non-cancer pain in primary settings.
Also in 2016, more than 11 million people abused prescription opioids. Every day, more than 1,000 people are treated in emergency departments for misusing their opioid prescriptions and subsequently overdosing. Every day, around 130 of these people don’t make it out alive. Drug overdoses claimed the lives of almost 64,000 Americans that year.
 
In 2016, more than 40 percent of all US opioid overdose deaths involved a prescription opioid. The CDC, the American College of Physicians, and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine have urged healthcare providers to pursue safer, non-drug alternatives for the treatment of non-cancer pain, including physical therapy. Physical therapists treat pain through movement, hands-on care, and patient education. By increasing physical activity, patients can also reduce their risk of other chronic diseases.
 
The American Physical Therapy Association’s #ChoosePT campaign is raising awareness about the dangers of opioids while encouraging consumers to choose sage alternatives. 
 

Opioid Addiction and Treatment

Fortunately, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. More and more treatment methods are being studied and implemented all across the United States, and more programs are being focused on prevention and treatment. For addicted individuals, the best thing to do is look for an addiction treatment center so that a treatment plan can be made. Treatment often involves a combination of medical detox and behavioral therapy. Drug addiction involves a complex set of behaviors that are associated with misuse of substances. That is why rehab is a highly personalized process because every patient has a unique set of needs.
 
Through medical detox, the patient’s opioid intake can be lowered gradually. This is safer than trying to quit drugs on your own. Medical professionals can help manage the patient’s dangerous withdrawal symptoms. Meanwhile, behavioral therapy is all about helping the patient get back on their feet. This way, they can learn how to adapt to the drug-free life.
 
Recovery starts with finding the right treatment center for the patient. The best treatment method will be determined via medical examination. Several factors will be taken into consideration, including history of substance abuse, frequency of drug use, and the person’s health condition. Detoxification will often follow, which involves gradually lowering the person’s drug intake while managing the various withdrawal symptoms.Some people ask, “is withdrawal painful“, read the article to learn more. 
 
They may be advised to go with either residential rehab or outpatient therapy—this depends on their situation. With the right treatment facility and program, they can easily make their way back to living a sober life. If someone in the family is struggling with opioid or alcohol addiction, it is important to seek help. A combination of medical detox and behavioral therapy can go a long way in the fight against drug abuse. But because every individual is affected by addiction differently, a comprehensive program tailored to their specific needs is necessary. Look for a nearby addiction treatment facility today and find out how drug treatment programs work.
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