The Opioid Crisis: Part II
In our last post, we discussed the issue of widespread opioid abuse throughout America, and some of the more common ways people become addicted in the first place. This week, we’ll complete our journey into the topic of opioid abuse with a look at some of the more common methods used to help those with opioid addiction recover.
For most of the past hundred years, the most common method for recovery was simply to go “cold-turkey” and tough it out; it wasn’t generally called “recovery” either, which would imply addiction is, in fact, an illness to recover from in the first place. Addiction was often treated as a personal flaw that needed to be “fixed”, but that’s another subject entirely; simply toughing it out in silence was generally the only route to go for many people suffering from addiction for much of history. In the past several decades however, opioid abuse, and drug abuse in general for that matter, has gone from being viewed as a moral problem or a personal failing to a healthcare issue that can be treated, much in the way any other sort of illness can be treated. With this mindset came a number of new options for treatment, and a wealth of medical and academic literature on the most successful measures for treatment. Though many individuals still choose to go “cold turkey” to a certain extent, there are counseling and detox facilities that can help ease this process with medication and physician oversight.
Another method with a high degree of success is the Medically Assisted Treatment (MAT). route. This method uses doctor-prescribed medication like Methadone and Suboxone to help ease withdrawal symptoms and cravings. These drugs are chemically similar to opioids, and they actually fill the same receptors in your brain, but they’ve been designed so they don’t have as much of a euphoric effect. They can be taken for either a short amount of time- just long enough to get through the worst parts of withdrawal, or for a longer term, sometimes a year or even several years. There are downsides to MAT though and coming off of these drugs can cause withdrawal symptoms as well, though not as severe. Often, these treatments are used along with therapy and counseling, often with great success. Overall, although Opioid addiction is extremely difficult to break from, with today’s medical science and knowledge, there are at least a number of effective options that can help with the recovery process.
Connery, Hilary Smith (2015); Medication-Assisted Treatment of Opioid Use Disorder. Harvard Review of Psychiatry, Volume 23/Issue 2
Roman, Paul M. (6-2011) Using medication-assisted treatment for substance use disorders: Evidence of barriers and facilitators of implementation. Addictive Behaviors, Volume 36 Issue 6, pages 584-589