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Guide to Getting Help for Your Opioid Addiction

Updated: Dec 20, 2019

Opioids are at the center of America’s biggest addiction epidemic in history, affecting people from all walks of life. Every day, more than 130 people lose their lives to opioid overdose, pushing officials to declare the opioid crisis a public health emergency. From prescription pain killers to illicit street drugs, opioids have found their way into states across the country, ravaging communities and devastating families. If you are struggling with opioid misuse and feel you may need treatment, there has never been a better and more important time to get the help you need. By following a few simple steps, you will be on your way to receiving evidence-based treatment using FDA-backed medications, as well as other forms of support to help you reach long-lasting recovery.

Enrolling into Treatment

There are various forms of opioid addiction treatment available, and one of the most successful and renowned is outpatient MAT or medication-assisted treatment. The use of medications such as methadone and buprenorphine can help people overcome the difficult withdrawal symptoms associated with opioid addiction, allowing people to regain energy and focus on other aspects of healing. Along with medicines, there is also behavioral therapy and counseling that helps treat the underlying causes that lead to addiction.

This whole-patient approach has a proven track record of helping people overcome opioid use disorder and finding the right treatment center is the first step towards enrolling in an effective program. Choosing a location that is accessible to you will be vital to sticking with your program as you will be required to visit frequently to take your medication. At this time, you want to familiarize yourself with what insurance benefits you have in order to see how much they will cover the cost of your treatment program. If no coverage is available, many facilities have programs for low-income patients.

Meeting with a Medical Provider

During your intake appointment, you will complete an assessment of your drug history and current health status by a physician who will then recommend which MAT drug is best for your treatment. The most common treatments include:

Methadone: The oldest known opioid addiction treatment that is a long-acting opioid that helps ward off withdrawal symptoms and can gradually lower the body’s dependence on opioids over time. It’s fast-acting and sometimes can have maximum effect for up to five days of use. It is usually taken by mouth and with long term use has effects that typically last 24 to 36 hours.

Buprenorphine: This medication works differently from methadone as it’s considered an opioid agonist-antagonist. It works by blocking other opioid effects on the brain while also relieving withdrawal symptoms. It often comes as a dual product with naloxone under the brand names Suboxone®, Bunavail® or Zubsolv®. Naloxone is an opioid blocker known commonly by the brand name Narcan® where it is used to reverse the effects of opioid overdose.

Naltrexone: Opiate antagonists such as this medication work in the brain to prevent the effects of opioids and helps lessen cravings for opioid use. It cannot be taken while currently taking any opioids, including methadone, as it can cause severe withdrawal symptoms. It can be given as an injection under the brand name Vivitrol® or taken as a pill.

You will be asked to refrain from using any opioids for at least 24 hours before your first dose of medication, pushing you towards withdrawal for your first visit for medication. This will allow the provider to determine which dosage is best for your body, letting the uncomfortable symptoms to subside within just a short time after receiving the medication.

Substance Use Counseling

With medications treating the chemical side of addiction, there are vital programs available in treatment that focus on the behavioral and emotional side of addiction recovery. Counseling sessions are just as important to treatment as medication, especially when it comes to relapse prevention education. Tapping into previous trauma that may have led to substance use as a coping mechanism can seem daunting at first, but with a professional substance use counselor, these discussions can help bring to light many things that can help you rebuild for your future life in recovery. There are other cognitive-behavioral therapy options available that your clinic can refer you to that involve couples therapy, family counseling, as well as group therapy sessions that many find helpful.

Addiction is a disease that should be treated as a medical illness, just like any other chronic condition. If you wish to overcome opioid use disorder with the most proven scientific methods, enrolling in an outpatient clinic will be the best step you can make towards bettering your future. Taking control back over your life is entirely possible, and with the help of compassionate medical professionals and staff, opioid addiction can be a part of your past as you work towards a better future.

For more information about our clinics or to begin treatment, contact us today.


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