The Birth of an Epidemic
Opioid abuse has become an epidemic in America. The drug class itself has been around for over a century, and heroin was once touted as a “wonder drug” until it became illegal in 1924. For many years, treatment for pain was considered to be superfluous to western medicine, and medical professionals were trained to avoid prescribing any opioids.
This thought process was revisited in the 1980’s when two renowned doctors published a paper in The New England Journal of Medicine detailing an extensive study on the limited addictive nature when used under strict medical supervision. Doctors began to consider pain as a ‘controllable entity’ again and started revisiting opiate prescriptions for chronic pain sufferers.
This changed with the introduction of OxyContin in 1994 when a pharmaceutical company praised the drug’s ability to give those living with chronic pain conditions a new lease on life. During the next year, over 11 million prescriptions for opioid painkillers were filled all while the addictive nature of this synthetic opiate was downplayed.
At the same time, new standards for care were implemented by the Joint Commission, and all accredited hospitals and medical centers underneath this agency were instructed to include pain assessments for all patients. The same pharmaceutical company that developed and advertised OxyContin in the 1990’s sponsored a series of books that the Joint Commission published and required doctors to adhere to.
Within this book, studies were cited claiming “no evidence that addiction is a significant” when patients were prescribed OxyContin for the management of pain. It even went as far as to accuse medical professionals of false and inflated concerns about OxyContin’s addictive qualities. After professional outcry, the Joint Commission was forced to withdrawal it’s stand on short-term opioid addiction from published materials.
Inpatient Drug Rehab
In August 2010, almost 2 decades after the release of their powerful pain management drug, the same pharmaceutical company unveiled an updated formulation it touted as “abuse deterrent” hoping it’s appeal to abusers would diminish. While it was formulated to be more difficult to crush for an addict’s easy high, it was not foolproof.
March 2016, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) started a new campaign to address the rampant opioid epidemic that had burned like a wildfire out of control. The director of the CDC wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine that ample study of the data collected regarding the effects of long-term opioid use remains incomplete. He did note that there was no other prescribed pain medication available for nonterminal conditions that caused as many patient deaths.
The battle to control this “wonder drug” has cost millions of dollars, tens of thousands of lives and destroyed an untold number of families since its release in 1994, and the numbers just keep compounding each year.
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Symptoms of Opioid Addiction
Opioids work by slowing down the nervous system’s ability to relay messages to organs, including the brain. Used over time, this causes the nervous system to rewire itself, which permanently alters the brain and the body’s ability to correctly regulate emotions, impulsivity, and cognition.
Because of this altering of neuron function, addicts are extremely vulnerable to relapse and overdose, even after completing inpatient opiate addiction rehab. Opiates alter brain chemistry differently than other addictive drugs, and because the changes are often lifelong, recovery for addicts can be a daily battle requiring vigilance and dedication.
- Extreme Mood Swings
- Sleep disturbances
- Slowed Breathing and heart rates
- Dry mouth
- Kidney problems
- Nausea and Vomiting
- Memory and Cognitive Changes
- Increased Pain
- Seizures and Temperature Fluctuations
The cycle of drug seeking causes many addicts to compromise relationships, financial security, employment, and overall health and wellness. It is not uncommon for formerly compliant members of the community to resort to law breaking to gain access to their next drug fix. Because the withdrawal from opiates is extremely painful and difficult, users will resort to almost any means when seeking their next high.
Common Opiate Addictions
The list below includes opioids most often abused in order of their potency. You will notice that all of them are prescription medications used by medical professionals to treat short term and chronic pain patients. Opiates can be natural, synthetic or semi-synthetic.
- Vicodin, Hycodan – hydrocodone
- MS Contin Kadin – morphine
- OxyContin, Percocet – oxycodone
- Dilaudid – hydromorphone
- Duragesic – fentanyl
Detoxification from Opiate Addiction
Drug addiction treatment for opiate dependence has become one of Orange County rehab centers main detoxification services. Because of the highly addictive nature of opiates, over 20 million Americans struggle with addiction and abuse. This figure also includes heroin addicts, and this number continues to grow each year.
Withdrawal from all opiates is a painful process, involving the entire central nervous system. Patients who are using are physically and psychologically dependent on the substance, making withdrawal symptoms extreme and sometimes dangerous.
Early withdrawal symptoms include muscle aches, agitation, anxiety, sweating, and fever to name a few. Late withdrawal symptoms usually peak 72 hours after patients stop using. The symptoms continue with the addition of nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, depression and extreme drug cravings.
It is not uncommon for individuals to experience the psychological symptoms and cravings for longer than a week. For this reason, attempting to detox alone is not encouraged. It is vital for you to have a support group including therapists and other mental health professionals. Coastline Rehab Center offers clients well-rounded detox.
Support Services offered for Opiate Addiction
Seeking opiate recovery following detox is important for life-long success. The goal of any solid Orange County rehab center is sober living. The road to recovery can be difficult, but the choice to get sober is the first step in the right direction. Inpatient rehab for OxyCodone abuse can help keep you focused on your long-term treatment plan while offering protection from the environment that allowed enabling and addiction to control your every waking moment.
Following the initial detox period, the immediate struggle becomes the mental and emotional battle to remain sober. Learning to live without drugs requires inpatient therapy and counseling. As most clients have gone through detox apart from family members, an important component of inpatient treatment will be family and group therapy sessions. Most opiate treatment centers offer 30-day, 60-day, and 90-day programs and then length of an individual’s stay will depend on the severity and length of their addiction
Opiate Recovery for Addicts
With an opiate addition, the disease is never considered ‘cured’. The potential for relapse will remain with the recovering addict for the rest of their lives. The true victory comes with ongoing treatment. Freedom from addiction is something worth fighting for, and we encourage our clients to join support groups such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and SMART Recovery as these will provide invaluable resources when returning to life at home.
Getting help when you need it is important, especially for recovering Oxycodone addicts. Counselors and therapists should remain a constant, even as you begin to feel you have gained ground. Keep your safety net involved in your daily life, and lean on others who can help you continue your opiate recovery process
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