Treatment of Opioid Use Disorders | Medically assisted treatment


Opioids are strong pain relievers that include oxycodone (OxyContin) and hydrocodone (Vicodin). These drugs can be effective and safe when used for short periods of time for pain relief. But if you take too much or if you stay in it for too long, you can become dependent on them. Over the past decade, our understanding of opioid use disorder (ODD) has evolved. We now know that most people who continue to abuse opioids do so not so much for the narcotic “high”, but rather to prevent the discomfort and misery that begins as soon as the opioid wears off. Simply put, they abuse to avoid withdrawal. Symptoms of opioid use disorder include a constant urge to use these drugs, difficulty stopping them, and needing to take larger amounts to get the same effects.

Opioid use disorder has reached epidemic status in the United States, affecting more than 2 million people. Overdose deaths from opioid use have increased steadily, reaching nearly 50,000 per year. Taking treatment for opioid use disorder can prevent overdose and reduce your dependence on these drugs.

Once you become dependent on opioids, stopping them can lead to withdrawal symptoms such as:

  • Cramps
  • Cravings
  • Agitation
  • Diarrhea
  • Sweat
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Tremor

You will need the help of a doctor or addiction specialist to slowly and safely wean your body from opioids. Depending on the dose you took and how long you took opioids, it may take months or years for you to make a full recovery.

Treatment for opioid use disorders often involves a combination of medication and counseling. Some drug-assisted treatment (MAT) programs are inpatient, which means you live in the center while you are receiving treatment. This type of intensive program may be best if you also have another substance use disorder, such as alcohol use disorder.

Other programs are outpatient. You live at home but you visit the center often, sometimes every day. Outpatient programs can take place in a hospital, community mental health center, or other setting.

Medications for opioid use disorders reduce cravings and prevent withdrawal symptoms. It allows you to focus on the factors that cause you to use opioids.

There are a few types of drugs available for opioid use disorder, and each work slightly different. Your doctor will help you choose the right one for you.

Methadone is one of the most common treatments for opioid use disorders. It strongly activates the same receptors in your brain as opioids. But because its effects are less intense and longer lasting than opioids, methadone reduces cravings and withdrawal symptoms. This treatment is very effective, but you can only get it at a methadone clinic. Risks include dangerous heart rhythms and overdose.

Buprenorphine (Sublocade, Suboxone, Subutex) is a newer treatment. It also activates opioid receptors in your brain. Plus, it blocks other opioids, so if you take an opioid while you’re on buprenorphine, you won’t feel any effect. This medicine can cause side effects like heart rhythm problems and overdose. Taking buprenorphine with another medicine called naloxone reduces the risk of overdose.

Naltrexone (Vivitrol) works differently from the other two medicines. Instead of activating the opioid receptors in your brain, it blocks them. So if you take opioids you won’t feel high and you won’t be able to overdose. However, you can still accidentally overdose on naltrexone. Taking the long-acting injection form is less likely to cause an overdose.

It may take a few days or weeks for your doctor to find the dose that helps you feel better without causing too many side effects. Your doctor will continue to adjust the dose until he manages your cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

There is no ideal length of time to continue taking medication for opioid use disorder. Once you are stable, your doctor may begin to gradually reduce the dose of the medicine by slowly reducing the dose over a period of a few weeks to a few months. But since there is a real risk of relapse, you may need to continue taking medication for many years to completely control your opioid addiction.

The second part of treatment for opioid use disorder is therapy. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) helps you change thoughts that may have contributed to your opioid abuse or that may be preventing you from recovering. CBT also motivates you to change and helps you stick to your treatment plan. It is most effective when you combine it with medication.

Education is another part of the treatment for opioid use disorder. Your therapist will teach you strategies to manage your pain and emotional distress without resorting to opioids.

Another way to get therapy is to use a self-help program like Narcotics Anonymous (NA). Using the same 12-step method used in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), NA helps people recover from substance use disorder through education, peer support, and counseling. in Group. This free program has groups that meet across the country. NA can help you change the way you think about opioids and realize that it is possible for you to change.

Therapies for opioid use disorders do not work overnight. You have to stick with them to see results. After completing your first treatment program, you will need to be vigilant to make sure that you are not taking drugs. This may involve counseling or other emotional support, education on how to manage pain without opioids, and careful monitoring for signs of relapse.

Opioid use disorder can make it seem like it’s taking over your life, but you can get over it. With the right combination of treatments, it is possible to stop your addiction to these drugs. Be patient, persevere, and rely on the doctors and therapists who are trying to help you.



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