FDA Approves Two Generic Medications for Opioid Dependence Treatment
Mylan Technologies Inc. and Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories SA have received the go-ahead to market buprenorphine and naloxone sublingual film. These products will be made available to patients as generic versions of Suboxone, a medication used to treat opioid dependence.
Buprenorphine is used to reduce the severity of opioid withdrawal symptoms. Naloxone blocks their effects and reverses the same. The two medications can be used as part of an overall treatment program that includes counseling and prescription monitoring.
More Help Available for Opiate Addiction
Generic buprenorphine and naloxone sublingual film will be available in several dosage levels. These medications can only be prescribed by medical professionals certified by the Drug Addiction Treatment Act.
Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the FDA Commissioner, stated that the FDA is taking steps to “advance the development of improved treatments for opioid use disorder” and to ensure that these medications are available to patients who need them. He also said that includes “promoting the development of better drugs, and also facilitating market entry of generic versions of approved drugs to help ensure broader access.”
About Medication-Assisted Treatment
Medication-assisted Treatment (MAT) is a treatment option that uses FDA-approved medications (buprenorphine, methadone or naltrexone) along with counseling and other types of behavioral therapies, to treat opioid addiction. This form of treatment reduces the severity of withdrawal symptoms. The medications used for MAT don’t give participants the “high” or feeling of ecstasy normally associated with opioid abuse, although some of these medications can wind up being abused as well, so they alone are not a permanent solution.
At an appropriate therapeutic dose for a patient, buprenorphine is also supposed to reduce the pleasurable effects he would experience if he took other opioids. This effect would make continued use of opioids less attractive, therefore much less likely.
Patients who are receiving MAT for opioid use disorder benefit from this type of treatment in another way as well: they cut their risk of dying by 50 percent, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
The Importance of Nutrition During Rehab: A Holistic Addiction Treatment Approach
There are many things that can have a powerful impact on drug addiction recovery. By making wise choices through an accredited holistic addiction treatment center, you can have the best chance of experiencing a successful long-term outcome. The information below will talk about the connection between nutrition and the rehabilitation process. It will also discuss how proper nutrition during rehab can be made possible by seeking treatment from a holistic rehab facility.
How Does Substance Abuse Affect Nutrition?
The process of substance abuse is very complex for each individual. As a result of the difficulties that accompany this problem, many people may find themselves having difficulty maintaining a healthy diet. For example, some people may simply forget to eat at all when they are under the influence of addictive substances. Others may find themselves dealing with strong cravings for junk foods that leave little room for healthier choices. Many addictive substances can cause a decrease in appetite. This can lead to the development of serious nutritional deficiencies over time. Last of all, dealing with disturbing physical and emotional symptoms that accompany drug abuse can also leave a person feeling less hungry.
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Health Implications of Substance Abuse and Addiction
Those struggling with a serious drug or alcohol addiction may discover that they have serious nutritional deficiencies. For example, it is very common for those fighting an addiction to deal with low levels of folic acid, vitamin B6, and Thiamine. Some addictive substances can further deplete the natural stores of specific vitamins and minerals, leading to bothersome physical symptoms that make recovery from addiction more difficult.
In addition to many possible nutrient deficiencies, those struggling with substance abuse can also experience unintentional weight loss. This can become a problem for those who were already thin prior to facing a substance abuse issue. The lack of an appropriate number of calories can result in weight loss, poor muscle tone, weakness, electrolyte imbalances, and many other health issues. The presence of these issues can also lead to an increased risk of the development of many life-threatening diseases. This can include cardiovascular disease, liver failure, hormonal imbalances, and blood sugar problems.
The Importance of Proper Nutrition During Rehabilitation
The process of seeking professional treatment for a drug addiction is difficult for everyone who goes through it. There is no doubt that this journey will require hard work, dedication, and a lot of introspection. However, the process is much harder without the assistance that proper nutrition can provide.
As it turns out, consuming a healthy diet can help you heal from addiction in many different ways. It can also lead to a much lower risk of experiencing a relapse down the road. How is this possible? Proper nutrition during rehab can provide the following important benefits:
Improved Repair to Existing Organ Damage
The abuse of addictive substances can lead to internal damage to vital tissues and organs. Thankfully, much of this damage is often reversible through proper nutrition. Excellent food choices can help heal the damage that has already been done while preventing further damage from occurring.
Specific foods can have a very powerful effect on the immune system. This results in strengthening the body to withstand the stress that recovering from an addiction can place upon it. Improved immune functioning will also help you become more resistant to common illnesses you come into contact with regularly.
Better Energy and Mood
It’s no secret that those recovering from an addiction often struggle with mood swings, personality changes, and a severe lack of energy. Giving your body the proper fuel it needs through a healthy diet can boost your energy levels. Excellent nutrition can also have a powerful effect on your overall mood, helping you manage stress and maintain a level of happiness throughout your treatment.
Better Management of Withdrawal Symptoms
No matter how well you manage the recovery process, withdrawal symptoms will always occur. While these symptoms are never easy to bear, they can be made much more manageable with the support of a healthy diet. Even serious issues such as chronic pain can become much easier to handle when healthy foods are a part of your daily routine.
Improved Resistance Against Relapse
Almost everyone who goes through treatment for an addiction faces the fear of a relapse. This is a normal thing to be concerned with. However, healthy food choices can strengthen your resolve to avoid a relapse in the future. Proper nutrition will also make your body that much stronger in the process.
The Benefits of Choosing a Holistic Treatment Center
A holistic addiction treatment center can provide many benefits that go beyond covering your nutritional needs during the healing process. Most holistic treatment centers provide access to a wide variety of tools, in addition to diet, that can go a long way toward helping you recover fully.
For example, holistic treatment facilities are well-known for providing nutritional support, fitness endeavors, spiritual activities, relaxation efforts, meditation, and many other services that provide for all of your needs. Many holistic rehab centers also highly promote family involvement that can lead to the improvement of your interpersonal relationships with others. All of these things can contribute to a successful long-term outcome to your drug addiction treatment journey.
Desert Cove Recovery is a highly esteemed rehab center that focuses on providing individualized and holistic treatment options for those struggling with an addiction. If someone you love has been affected by substance abuse, please contact our facility for more information on the innovative treatment options at your disposal at our holistic addiction treatment center.
VR Addiction Treatment – Will Arizona Rehabs Incorporate Into Treatment?
As the opioid crisis in the United States continues to escalate, treatment options for addictions of all kinds are more available and varied than ever. Throughout the country, there are addiction treatment centers in most major metro areas, and new techniques and treatments are being developed all the time. Technology has naturally played a major role in the evolution of the treatment of addiction and substance abuse, and nowhere is that more evident than in the advent of VR addiction treatment. Indeed, virtual reality technology, which is mostly associated with immersive video games, is increasingly being used in addiction recovery. Read on to learn more about how Arizona rehabs are looking into VR for addiction treatment as a viable option.
What is VR Therapy?
Before delving into what VR therapy is all about, an important caveat: This technology is still in its infancy, and much more research is needed to determine its overall efficacy. With that being said, this type of therapy involves using virtual reality technology, which immerses users in eerily realistic virtual worlds, to address various aspects of addiction. Most commonly, the technology is used to expose people in recovery to triggers and stressors in safe, clinical environments. It is also being explored as a way of making therapy more immediately accessible to those who are at risk of relapse. Some researchers are even exploring the use of the technology as a form of pain control.
History of Virtual Reality for Therapy
Buzz about virtual reality technology has reached a fever pitch lately, so it’s easy to assume that its use in therapeutic and medical settings is fairly new. However, virtual reality has been explored as an option in addiction treatment for some time. During the 1990s, for example, a doctor at USC treated war veterans with PTSD using VR technology. Later, they branched out to treat conditions like depression and schizophrenia with the technology too.
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In the early 2000s, Dr. Patrick Bordnick of Tulane University’s School of Social Work examined the use of virtual reality technology in the treatment of nicotine addiction. His research proved that the technology could trigger cue reactivity in smokers. Cue reactivity is a form of learned response that involves reactions to certain drug-related stimuli, or cues. The fact that VR technology can do this is significant because it offers a way for patients to work on positive reactions to such stimuli in safe, therapeutic environments.
VR Addiction Treatment and Environmental Triggers
As anyone who is in recovery can tell you, even the strongest resolve in the world can be no match for certain triggers. For a smoker, for example, that morning cup of coffee can be enough to make them want to light up. One of the most exciting promises of VR technology when it comes to addiction treatment is its ability to allow people in recovery to “face their fears” virtually. VR technology has come so far that when using it, people really do feel like they are immersed in the virtual world, so their reactions are genuine.
In the studies of VR therapy’s effects on nicotine addiction, researchers found that the technology made a difference when used in tandem with nicotine replacement therapies. Now, researchers are exploring ways in which the technology might be used to treat addictions to opiates. In fact, some versions of this technology place users directly in “heroin caves,” where they are presented with many triggers and cues. The resulting cravings can then be worked through safely with clinicians. Should the person encounter such triggers in the real world, it is hoped, they will be better equipped to cope with them in a healthy way.
Can VR Therapy Be Used to Ward Off Relapse?
Relapse is a common and natural part of the recovery process for many. Naturally, anyone with clean time under their belt wants to avoid it, but willpower often isn’t enough. Support groups urge those in recovery to hit a meeting or to call their sponsor when urges arise, but it isn’t always easy or possible to do. The hope is that VR technology may be turned to by those in recovery for immediate help when the urge to use strikes.
Noah Robinson of Vanderbilt University has spearheaded research into this area of VR therapy. He believes that by making therapy as accessible as, say, heroin, addicts would stand a much better chance of working through triggers and cravings that may lead them into relapse. The doctor has stated that the technology is akin to a “scalable intervention”—one that can be conducted by a single person and the appropriate VR technology.
The Accessibility Problem
To be sure, there is real promise in the use of VR addiction treatment, and the technology has progressed by leaps and bounds over the last handful of years. Even so, it is still a considerable investment for most people, so the odds of it becoming something that is used regularly in private homes any time soon are slim. More likely, the technology will begin finding its way into addiction treatment centers and Arizona rehabs, where it may be used in conjunction with proven therapies and treatments.
Will VR Therapy Ever Replace Traditional Treatment Options?
Some people believe that we will all exist mostly in a virtual realm someday. For now, though, we are all stuck in the real world—and VR therapy alone isn’t enough to ensure long-term sobriety. As exciting as the technology may be, traditional addiction treatment options are and will continue to be an integral part of any recovery. Many Arizona rehabs are available to help, including Desert Cove Recovery, so take the first step today.
The current opioid crisis is responsible for producing a new epidemic among teens and young adults. It’s a potentially-fatal bacterial heart infection called endocarditis.
This condition is most commonly seen in older adults. Now doctors are seeing it in much younger patients more often due to opioid drug use.
What is Endocarditis and How is is Related to Opioid Abuse?
Endocarditis is a bacterial infection of the inner lining of the heart chamber and its valves. The condition occurs when bacteria are enter the body, then are spread through the bloodstream until they attach themselves to damaged parts of the heart. It is spreading through the use of shared needles by IV drug drug users.
The clump of bacteria grows over time, and the infection can be life-threatening if it isn’t treated, according to Dr. Sarah Wakeman, the Medical Director of the Substance Use Disorder Initiative and the Addiction Consult Team at Massachusetts General Hospital.
How Infection is Spread
In a doctor’s office, clinic or hospital setting, a health care worker will swab a patient’s skin with a disinfectant to kill bacteria before administering an injection. The purpose of this step is to avoid pushing bacteria from the skin into the body with the needle. Opioid drug users who are using needles may not be taking this step, which has led to the increase in endocarditis cases.
Endocarditis Treatment Not Enough for Opioid Use Disorder Patients
Endocarditis can be treated using intravenous antibiotics over a long time. If the damage to the heart valves is severe, surgery may be recommended to replace them.
If the patient is also injecting opioids, such as heroin, treating the infection is only treating half of the problem. The opioid use disorder is still present, and the patient will go right back to using once if he doesn’t get appropriate help for the addiction.
According to a 2016 Tufts University study, hospital admissions for endocarditis due to injectable drug use increased from 3,578 in 2000 to 8,530 in 2013. The study also found that a large number of these cases involved young people aged 15-24.
The 12 step method is considered by many addiction experts to be the best help for long-term addiction recovery. However, it is not without controversy.
Keep reading to get a better understanding of this groundbreaking approach and find out why millions of people in recovery still trust it.
How the 12 Steps Started
Alcoholics Anonymous was founded in Ohio in 1935 by Bill Wilson, a recovering alcoholic, and Dr. Robert Holbrook Smith. AA was based on this premise: When it comes to staying sober, there is strength in numbers. Alcoholics from all walks of life began meeting to share their struggles, celebrate their successes and lean on one another throughout the journey to recovery.
The 12 steps were established in 1946. Originally, the steps emphasized the importance of surrendering one’s addiction to a higher power for healing and restoration. AA also embraced the Serenity Prayer, which was penned by the American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr:
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Throughout AA’s history, nonreligious people have objected to its heavy emphasis on spirituality. As a result, the language in many 12 step models has been amended to accommodate people from a myriad of belief systems. References to the presence of God are open to a wide variety of interpretations. Even atheists can use the basic principles for guidance.
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12 Step Sponsors
Sponsorship is also an important feature. Newcomers navigate the 12 steps alongside someone who has already worked through them and is successfully staying sober. Sponsors are typically available for questions, intervention or encouragement almost 24/7.
Another benefit is the ability to learn from others who are farther along on the journey. New members can pick up coping skills and tips for avoiding relapse from seasoned group members. There is also a compassionate atmosphere of accountability without judgment.
12 Step for Addiction Treatment
Over the years, the success of AA has spawned hundreds of other organizations for people with all kinds of addictions. Groups exist for those who struggle with drug abuse, gambling, overeating, hoarding and even addiction to using credit cards. The 12 basic steps are applicable to almost any struggle.
Nationwide, membership in groups that use the model is estimated in the millions. Many fellowships cater to specific demographic groups such as veterans, men or women only, gay people, clergy or seniors. You name it, and there’s probably a 12 step group for it somewhere.
If you talk to recovering alcoholics about the 12 step program, you may start to see a funny pattern. Many express mixed or negative feelings about going to meetings week after week or year after year. However, they grudgingly admit that attendance keeps them sober. When the choice is continued participation or relapse, many people choose to stay involved.
What Are the 12 Steps?
According to the website 12step.org, this is the most current version of the original 12 traditions:
Admit powerlessness over addiction.
Find hope through a higher power or higher goal.
Turn the power to manage life over to the higher power.
Analyze the self and behaviors objectively, described as taking a moral inventory.
Share the results of the analysis with another person or the higher power.
Prepare to allow the higher power to remove the negative aspects discovered in the analysis.
Ask the higher power for these negative aspects to be removed.
Make a list of wrongs done to others.
Make amends for those wrongs as long as it is not harmful to the recipient to do so.
Make self-analysis, removal of faults and amends regular practices.
Meditate or pray for the continued ability to recover.
Help others in need to go through the same process.
Each of the 12 steps expresses an essential value for healing. Working through them one by one empowers addicts to manage their disease and regain control of their lives.
Again, there are many alternative 12 step organizations for people who oppose the idea of God or a higher power.
12 Step Rehab
Around 75 percent of treatment programs incorporate the 12 step philosophy in some form. Most experts recommend the 12 step approach as an established, methodical process for understanding and managing addiction.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse endorses the 12 step premise that addiction cannot be cured and that preventing recurrences is a lifelong process. A study published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment found that the 12 step method perfectly complements therapies geared toward changing thought patterns and behavior.
Like many other treatments, 12 step is most effective as part of a comprehensive program that incorporates other proven methods. Here are just a few treatments that can be supported by the 12 step philosophy:
Most people who have an addiction also have at least one other mental disorder. This is called dual diagnosis. Treating both conditions at once is far more effective than treating them separately. A study of 12 step programs published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs found them beneficial in treating dual diagnosis.
If you need help deciding on the best treatment plan, call Desert Cove Recovery today to speak with an experienced counselor.
Addiction affects every part of a person’s life. Relationships, career prospects, health, and spirituality can be damaged by a substance abuse problems. Drug abuse can also appear as a symptom of an issue with these or other areas of a person’s life. Without addressing these underlying problems, true healing and recovery cannot occur.
Holistic addiction treatment looks at an individual as a whole rather than focusing on a particular problem at the exclusion of other factors. By meeting the needs of the patient’s mind, body and soul at the same time, holistic addiction treatment plans are a more thorough and attentive solution.
Benefits of Holistic Addiction Treatment
The core belief behind holistic treatment is that an individual is more than the sum of his or her experiences and problems. Rather than isolating a specific issue like addiction and treating it in a vacuum, holistic treatments address concerns of the mind, body and spirit simultaneously.
This approach makes the most sense when you consider the power that addiction can have on a person’s life. Addiction can be all-consuming. It determines how a person feels, how time is spent, the quality and nature of relationships and so much more. Eliminating an addiction without addressing these other aspects of a person’s life may not be effective in the long term.
When a person is addicted, the substance at the heart of the addiction may become an all-purpose crutch to substitute for wellness and growth. Pain that is physical, spiritual or emotional in nature may be self-medicated through drugs or alcohol. When these substances are removed, the underlying issues must still be addressed.
Recognizing that sickness to the mind, body or spirit may be at the root of addiction is what separates holistic treatment from other types of drug rehab.
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Complementary and Integrative Therapies
Successful drug rehabilitation depends on a combination of an addiction cessation program and cognitive behavioral therapy. A program like the 12-step program provides a framework for combating and overcoming addiction within a supportive network of others in recovery. Therapy works to help a patient build better coping mechanisms and address the underlying issues that may cause addiction or exacerbate substance abuse problems.
On their own, each of these techniques is powerful. When combined, they provide a greater foundation on which a patient can build a new substance-free life. The greatest strength of the holistic treatment approach is the ability of one method’s strengths to balance out another’s weaknesses, and that is something we strive for at Desert Cove.
In addition to traditional drug rehab methods, holistic addiction treatment may also incorporate complementary and alternative or integrative medicine techniques:
Alternative medicine treatments are not scientifically proven to treat any specific ailment, but they have been shown to help some people with overall wellness, energy improvements, spiritual health or other benefits.
Stress relief is an important component of integrative therapy. Quitting an addictive substance is a tumultuous process that can cause significant upset and disturbance in an individual’s daily life. Providing a way to cope with that stress and manage it productively can have a tremendous benefit.
A Personalized Approach to Drug Rehab
Not all holistic drug recovery programs offer the same treatments, and not every treatment will be effective for every patient. This is why it’s important for recovery to be personalized and based on the needs of the individual. Taking the time to understand an individual’s history, background, challenges and goals helps with tailoring the treatment plan and ensuring the best possible results.
More hospitals are changing their policies about dispensing opioids to emergency room and surgical patients. Drugs like OxyContin, Vicodin and fentanyl, which are prescribed to temporarily provide relief for moderate to severe pain, have also caused irreparable damage. It’s difficult to determine how many people who currently have an addiction to opioids were first exposed to the drugs at a hospital, but it is often where people first encounter them.
Hospital patients aren’t the only ones who were at risk of becoming addicted to painkillers. People who were prescribed large amounts of this class of drugs would often end up with leftover pills. More than 50 percent of Americans who misuse opioids get them from friends or family members, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
Now there is an increasing number of hospitals and other medical practices that are reducing the number of pills being prescribed for pain. Doctors are saying that opioids are not the only choice for treating acute pain and that less potent options are often just as effective. In the past six months, Rush University Medical Center has given patients recovering from surgery ibuprofen, acetaminophen and gabapentin, which is used to treat nerve pain. A mild opioid medication is used to treat sharper spikes of pain and more acute pain.
Dr. Asokumar Buvanendran, a pain specialist at Rush University Medical Center, said that patients were “more satisfied” with the new protocol. It represents a trend that is hopefully leading more people away from these deadly drugs.
According to experts, opioid use skyrocketed in the 1990s when doctors started prescribing them to patients much more often. During this time, physicians were influenced in their choice to provide medicines in this class to patients by aggressive pharmaceutical company marketing tactics.
Rethinking Approach to Treating Pain
Most of the opioids were given to chronic pain patients. They were also the first choice for post-surgical pain or for patients visiting emergency rooms complaining of pain.
Doctors had the idea that drugs didn’t cause addiction; abusers were solely responsible for their own plight if they became addicted. Research has now shown that the properties of the drugs themselves change brain chemistry in users to cause the addiction.
New Opioid Prescribing Guidelines Help Doctors Make Better Decisions
Northwestern Medicine now talks to patients about the dangers of opioids before surgery. Patients are asked to bring any unused medication to follow-up appointments with their surgeon, so that the drugs can be disposed of safely.
All doctors in the state are required to enroll in a database to monitor painkillers and prescriptions that are commonly abused, a measure to seek out those who may be “doctor shopping” to get drugs. Some hospitals have similar in-house systems.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has called for doctors to prescribe a maximum of seven days’ worth of opioids for patients to take home for acute pain. Many emergency departments today are only giving out 24 – 72 hours’ worth of pills.
While some chronic and severe pain patients may feel these tougher prescribing practices are prohibitive to their care, hopefully there is some comfort knowing that their inconvenience could be contributing to saving lives.
Safe injection sites, also known as supervised injection facilities or “fix rooms,” provide a medically-supervised facility where injectable drugs can be used safely and without legal repercussions.
These safe injection facilities are contentious. Critics and supporters alike have made arguments about their efficacy and usefulness. At present, are no safe injection sites in AZ or surrounding areas, but some states are considering implementing them as a harm-reduction strategy for battling the opioid crisis.
Locations of Safe Injection Sites
Worldwide, there are 66 cities with some form of medically supervised drug injection facility. The first North American location opened in Canada in 2004, and an experimental “underground” facility has been in operation at an undisclosed location in the U.S. since 2013. However, the legality of these facilities is still hotly debated, and only a few states have discussed implementing them.
At present, cities in New York and California are considering opening safe injection sites. Two facilities have been approved for opening in Seattle. If these facilities lead to positive outcomes, they may become more widespread. However, the controversy surrounding safe injection facilities continues to grow.
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How Do Safe Injection Sites Work?
The idea behind a supervised injection facility is to reduce the risk of overdose and disease associated with injectable drugs. Opioid overdose kills tens of thousands of people each year and is a leading cause of death. Staff members at supervised injection facilities would have access to the overdose-reversal drug naloxone, reducing the risk of death.
Additionally, reusing and sharing needles can cause the spread of disease and infection. Providing drug users sterile, fresh needles and a way to safely dispose of them should reduce the spread of HIV, hepatitis and other similar diseases. In this way, these facilities are meant to protect public health as well as the health of individual users.
These facilities would also provide information and resources regarding drug rehabilitation and recovery programs. By providing a safe location for drug users to receive health and social services, a line of communication can be opened that may encourage more addicts to seek treatment.
Pros and Cons of Safe Injection Sites in AZ
It’s too early to tell whether supervised injection facilities might become the norm in the U.S. Despite some evidence that these facilities may reduce the overall numbers of drug-related deaths, many opponents simply are not comfortable with allowing illegal drug use to be condoned.
The current administration has tended to side with the “war on drugs,” and many people are in favor of stronger legal repercussions against the sale and use of drugs. Having a safe place to inject drugs without fear of legal punishment may encourage more people to begin using drugs. In other words, the fear of legal repercussions or safety concerns may be preventing some people from engaging in drug use. Removing these fears may actually make the opioid problem worse, not better.
Another concern about these facilities is that they currently illegal at the federal level. Although states can institute these policies themselves, federal law still rules against them. This means that government oversight over these facilities and the drug policy in general will weaken, and laws and regulations may vary between states and locations. This could cause confusion and potentially create safety concerns.
A Multi-Faceted Approach to a Complex Problem
The drug problem gripping the nation is complex, and no single solution will solve this epidemic. Addiction is complicated. It is affected by mental health, socioeconomic status, genetic predisposition and more. A variety of individual and systemic factors create and support drug abuse.
Only a holistic approach that considers the individual needs of drug users and the systems in place to offer support, recovery and intervention can truly provide long-term solutions. Harm reduction techniques may prove to be a temporary bandage for a bigger issue, but exploring the possibilities and analyzing their effectiveness can still help move us toward solving the drug crisis.
There is one thing that is certain: Drug users require resources and assistance to overcome their addictions. Whether or not safe injection sites and other harm-reduction strategies are implemented, drug rehabilitation facilities remain a cornerstone of helping individuals overcome their addictions and reclaiming their lives.
If you or a loved one currently suffers from addiction, contact us for more information about our addiction treatment programs and the work we do with the community in Arizona to aid recovery and prevent relapse.
Opiates are addictive in part because they activate parts of the brain associated with pleasure. However, that is only part of the story. A person who takes painkillers or other opioids will find themselves chemically dependent on the drugs. Once this happens, overcoming addiction can be extremely difficult. The physical and emotional withdrawal symptoms pose a tremendous challenge to individuals looking for recovery.
How Opioids Work in the Brain
Your body naturally produces opioids, which attach to special receptors in the brain. These neurotransmitters help the body naturally regulate pain and stress.
Chemical opioids attach to the same receptors in the brain and have a similar effect of producing euphoria. However, they are significantly stronger than anything the body can produce on its own. These fake neurotransmitters flood the system and eventually prevent the body from producing opioids of its own. Part of what causes drug withdrawal symptoms is this lack of dopamine and related chemicals in the brain as the body adjusts to the absence of opioids.
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Stages of Opiate Withdrawal: A Timeline
Drug withdrawal presents a set of physical and emotional symptoms that can be extremely difficult to endure. However, it’s important to remember that withdrawal is temporary.
If you or a loved one is facing detoxification and rehab, know that the worst of the symptoms will last just a few days. Knowing what to expect and having a timeline of events in mind can help to ease some of the psychological pressure when facing withdrawal and recovery.
Withdrawal symptoms for short-acting opiates will begin within 12 hours of the last dose. For long-acting opiates, symptoms may start within 30 hours. Over the next two days, symptoms will continue to worsen, peaking around the 72 hour mark. By the end of the third day, most physical symptoms will have resolved. Psychological symptoms and cravings may continue for a week or more.
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Early withdrawal symptoms include the following:
Agitation or anxiety
Sweats and fever
Increased blood pressure and heart rate
These initial symptoms may cause restlessness and mood swings.
The later stage of withdrawal produces flu-like symptoms:
Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
Goosebumps and shivering
Stomach cramps and pain
Depression and intense drug cravings may accompany this stage. These symptoms will generally peak within 72 hours and resolve within five days. From a physical standpoint, recovery is well underway. Physical symptoms of withdrawal may disappear quickly after the third day of detox. However, psychological symptoms may linger, and drug cravings may persist or come and go in the weeks and months that follow.
What About Drug Replacement?
In some cases, an alternative substance like Suboxone may be provided to help mitigate the effects of chemical dependence. This drug is classified as a “partial opioid agonist,” which means that it is a weaker type of opioid that cannot be abused. Other replacement drugs, like methadone, may also sometimes be used.
Addiction clinics and rehab facilities offer these medications as a stepping stone to help reduce the severity of drug withdrawal symptoms. However, users will still undergo withdrawal when weaning off of the replacement drug, and recovery will take longer when these medical aids are offered. There is also the risk of finding a way to abuse these medications.
The Importance of Support During Withdrawal
Drug detox and addiction recovery services are crucial to helping people recover safely throughout the stages of opiate withdrawal and stay away from drugs long-term.
One important but often overlooked symptom of withdrawal is suicidal ideation. Not everyone who undergoes withdrawal feels suicidal, but the feelings of depression can be overwhelming. People in the grip of withdrawal may experience mood swings and dark thoughts that seem to have no end point. The feeling that life may never be better than it is in that dark moment or that the addict can never be happy again without drugs can be overwhelming. For this reason, a strong support system is essential to the safety of people overcoming addiction. Recovering addicts need to know that their symptoms are temporary. They also need to be protected from opportunities for self-harm and relapse.
Protecting recovering addicts from relapse is especially important because many deadly overdoses occur during relapse. Because the user’s body is no longer accustomed to the drug, it will be more sensitive. What would have been a normal dose for the user before withdrawal can become a deadly overdose in the weeks that follow.
The best drug rehabilitation programs provide a strong support network for recovering addicts throughout all stages of recovery, including the difficult weeks that follow acute drug withdrawal. By continuing to offer support after the initial symptoms have faded, the rehab program can provide the best environment for successful and permanent drug cessation.
There continues to be a high demand for medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid addiction. To date, however, states like Ohio only haveabout two percent of doctors that have completed the training necessary to prescribe or dispense buprenorphine. This is the main ingredient in the addiction treatment drug Suboxone, and other similar medications.
Plan to Double Healthcare Professionals Providing Buprenorphine
The state is planning to double the number of healthcare professionals certified to provide Suboxone (and other addiction treatment medications) to patients over the next 18 months. The federal government has provided $26 million in grant funding under the 21st Century Cares Act so that more healthcare providers can get training. Under existing law, doctors, as well as nurse practitioners and physician assistants (PAs) can dispense buprenorphine.
Waiver to Treat Patients for Opioid Addiction
Under the Drug Addiction Treatment Act of 2000 (Data 2000), doctors can apply for a waiver allowing them to treat patients with buprenorphine in their office, clinic, a community hospital or “any other setting where they are qualified to practice.” To qualify for a physician waiver, a doctor must be:
• Licensed under state law
• Registered with the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) to dispense controlled substances
• Agree to treat a maximum of 30 MAT patients during the first year
• Qualify to treat MAT patients, either by training or by professional certification
A doctor who has completed at least eight hours of classroom training focused on treating and managing patients with opioid use disorders can qualify for a waiver. The new training program for medical professionals is 1.5 days of classroom instruction, and participants are expected to continue their education through online courses and seminars.
Medication-Assisted Treatment Growing in the United States
The National Institutes of Health Studies says that MAT is a very effective method for treating opioid addiction. Studies conducted in 2014 revealed improved long-term recovery rates over traditional treatment methods, though it often takes finding the perfect balance for each individual as to how long they stay on the medication. Ideally, they would work toward being off of it in 2 years or less, and many people seek to use Suboxone for short-term tapering to simply ease opiate withdrawal symptoms.