The ongoing opioid crisis is a nationwide dilemma that’s still raging. The coverage may have declined recently, and reasonably, due to the coronavirus pandemic but opioids continue to ravage the country.
With overdose deaths still 4 times higher in 2018 than they were in 1999 – translating to 128 people dying per day from an opioid overdose – it was declared a public health emergency in 2017. While the trends are moving in a positive direction however there is much work that remains to be done and in getting this fully under control.
No state has gone untouched throughout the era, the California opioid epidemic taking 2,400 lives in 2018 with 45% of drug overdose deaths involving an opioid with that number jumping to 3,244 in 2019.
Additionally, in 2019, California had over 17.5 million prescriptions for opioids written and nearly 12,000 emergency department visits for an opioid overdose.
What Are Opioids?
Opioids are a class of drugs that are meant to treat mild to severe pain. They interact with opioid receptors in the body/brain. Due to the euphoria, they produce in addition to the pain relief, even when prescribed by a doctor and used as directed there is a potential for abuse which can lead to dependency and addiction.
The most commonly known opioids are OxyContin®, Vicodin®, and morphine, as well as the synthetic opioid Fentanyl. Heroin, completely illegal and with no medicinal value, is also an opioid.
Why Is There an Opioid Epidemic?
As per the Department of Health and Human Services, the root cause of the opioid epidemic dates back to the late 1990s when “pharmaceutical companies reassured the medical community that patients would not become addicted to opioid pain relievers and healthcare providers began to prescribe them at greater rates.
Increased prescription of opioid medications led to widespread misuse of both prescription and non-prescription opioids before it became clear that these medications could indeed be highly addictive.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention add that “providers in the highest prescribing state, Alabama, wrote almost three times as many of these prescriptions per person as those in the lowest prescribing state, Hawaii” with studies suggesting that the underlying health status of the population is not an explanation for the regional disparity.
What Is the Best Way To Treat an Opioid Addiction?
There’s no silver bullet in the fight against any addiction, let alone one as serious as opioid use disorder, but among the best ways to treat opioid addiction is through immersive residential inpatient rehab.
For opioids, in particular, medication-assisted therapy incorporating something like methadone or buprenorphine goes a long way towards increasing the odds of a successful and lasting recovery. These drugs help to mitigate cravings and reduce the symptoms of withdrawal without creating those feelings of euphoria that a user desires.
Once the withdrawal symptoms are under control and the body is in the process of detoxing, work on the mental side of addiction can begin.
A dedicated inpatient program works well because it allows a person to focus completely on recovery. All distractions are removed by design so you can be fully engaged and enveloped in treatment. You won’t be going to work or school or dealing with the stresses at home. Many of the triggers that once motivated your using will also be gone.
Through talk therapy, both in group and individual settings, with a trained addiction specialist, you’ll delve deep into the why of your substance abuse.
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Recovery doesn’t end with inpatient care though. Treatment for opioid addiction is always a work in progress so having a plan for transitioning back to your daily life is critical, which is where outpatient and aftercare come into play.
Opioids are tough to beat on your own. Fortunately, you don’t have to do it alone.