Opioid abuse has reached epidemic levels across the country. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of drug overdose deaths tripled from 1999 to 2014. Of the 47,000 drug overdoses in 2014 in the United States, 60 percent of them were related to opioids.

Opioids are a broad category of addictive drugs, including prescription painkillers and heroin. Other commonly abused opioids include:

  • Fentanyl
  • Oxycodone (commonly known by the brand names Oxycontin and Percocet)
  • Hydrocodone (commonly known as the brand Vicodin, Norco or Lortab)
  • Codeine
  • Morphine (brand names include MS Contin, Kadian, and Roxonol)
  • Hydromorphone (brand names include Dilaudid and Palladone)
  • Methadone
  • Buprenorphone (commonly known as the brand Suboxone)

Opioid addiction is partly driven by declining prices for synthetic drugs, such as fentanyl, and heroin, which can be purchased on the street cheaply. While many opioid users start by abusing prescription drugs, either given to them by a physician to manage pain, or stolen from a medicine cabinet of a loved one or friend. As the street price of prescription opioids has climbed, users have moved on to cheaper, more accessible, and more dangerous substances.

How Opioids Work

Opioids alter the brain and depress the central nervous system, which controls many bodily functions, including respiration. Opioids bind to receptors in the brain and spinal cord, reducing the distribution of pain messages to the rest of the body and reducing feelings of pain for the user.

Opioid users feel a euphoria or high that lasts for a varying length of time. This euphoric state is addicting, and suppresses production of dopamines, which are neurotransmitters. As the brain produces fewer of the neurotransmitters, the body needs more and higher doses of the opioid to create the same euphoric feeling.

Withdrawal symptoms from opioid use can appear within hours of the last usage, causing users to seek more of the drug.

Opioids can be abused in many ways. Injected opioids hit the bloodstream and cerate the high very quickly, often in a matter of seconds to minutes, Smoked, snorted, or ingested opioids can take longer to take effect.

Opioid users may experience various side effects, the most common of which are constipation, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. Among the symptoms of opioid abuse are:

  • Drowsiness
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Poor coordination
  • Physical agitation
  • Sleeping habit changes (sleeping more or less)
  • Slowed or shallow breathing rate
  • Slurred speech

Addiction to Opioids

Addiction to opioids is insidious as the need to acquire and use the drug begins to consume the user. Personal and professional obligations go unmet and users may withdraw from family and friends, spending more and more time looking to secure the drugs and use them. Uses resort to theft from family and friends, or others, to feed their addiction.

Physical cravings for the drug being abused are powerful and withdrawal, even or a few hours, can have severe physical effects. Memories of past withdrawals may make users more irrational and desperate to score another hit to stem off the withdrawal feelings.

Common withdrawal symptoms include chills, cramps, excessive sweating, hot flashes, insomnia, loss of appetite, irritability, muscle cramps, nausea, panic, and vomiting, Withdrawal symptoms can become severe and lead to convulsions, fever, seizures, and lead to death.

Opiate Withdrawal Treatment

In order to treat someone addicted to opioids, the first step is opiate detox. The detox protocol for opiates requires careful monitoring o the patient, best done in opiate treatment centers. Treatment includes helping the patient through the physical withdrawal symptoms, which can be physically painful and difficult manage,

Opiate detox symptoms can begin in as little as six hours after last using for short-acting opioids. Early symptoms include agitation, anxiety, difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep, fever, hypertension, muscle cramps, racing heart, a runny nose, sweating, and tears.

In opiate addiction treatment, symptoms can reach a peak at 72 hours and last for a week or more. These symptoms include strong cravings for the drug, depression, diarrhea, goosebumps, nausea, stomach cramps, and vomiting.

Our opiate adduction treatment focuses on a holistic approach and includes a 90-day inpatient stay. Unlike other opiate detox centers, we develop a personalized approach that includes a minimum 30-day detox program, nearly double the standard duration at other opiate treatment centers.

Our treatment plan focuses on the physical and emotional needs of our patients. We offer physical activities, holistic services and cutting-edge counseling approaches.

Following inpatient treatment, we offer an array of aftercare services designed to support recovery and reduce relapse. These services include group therapy referrals, one-on-one follow-up calls, and other services that help our patients on the road to recovery.