Opiate/Opioid Addiction Treatment
Opioid addiction can be a deeply debilitating condition, affecting a person’s ability to engage in everyday tasks. The consequences of continued opioid addiction can be catastrophic, harming one’s relationships, finances, legal standing, stability, physical and mental health, and even sometimes resulting in death. Whether a person is addicted to street drugs like heroin or prescription opioid painkillers like fentanyl and oxycodone, it is important to understand that addiction is a legitimate mental health condition that cannot be managed through individual will power alone. Fortunately, opioid addiction is highly treatable.
A wide variety of treatment options are available for opioid addiction. The treatment approach that works best for a particular individual depends on a wide range of personal factors unique to that individual. For this reason, it is best to investigate all options so that you can get the help you need. Life without opiates is possible. It’s just a matter of finding the right addiction treatment program.
What are Opiates?
Opiates are a type of drug that is derived originally from the opium poppy. Natural opiates have been used for thousands of years for medical, religious, and recreational purposes. In the last few hundred years, semi-synthetic and fully synthetic opiates that are far more potent have been developed. While addiction has always been a problem with opioid use, the potency of these lab-produced opiates has led to skyrocketing addiction rates in the United States – and throughout the world.
The most infamous opioid drug is probably heroin. Heroin is a semi-synthetic opioid that is extremely potent, leads quickly to physical dependence, and causes approximately 15,000 overdose deaths every year. The dangers of heroin are so well-known and popularized by the media that it may come as a surprise that people ever try heroin at all. Why do so many people turn to heroin?
So-called “street drugs” like heroin are not the only opioid drugs. In fact, opioids have significant medical uses. Opioids are analgesics, otherwise known as painkillers. Prescription opioid painkillers are oxycodone, morphine, and fentanyl are actually considered essential medications, and they are widely prescribed to treat severe and chronic pain.
Many people assume that these drugs, by virtue of being legal, must be safer than “street drugs” like heroin. The reality is that legal prescription opioid painkillers are just as addictive and risky as any other opiate. In fact, the amount of people who die every year from prescription opioid overdoses is more than double the number of people who die from heroin overdoses, with approximately 31,000 deaths from synthetic opioids occurring each year. The vast majority of people who begin using heroin do so after developing an addiction to prescription opiates.
Commonly abused opiates include:
- Fentanyl (Actiq, Duragesic)
- Hydrocodone (Vicodin, Norco)
- Hydromorphone (Dilaudid)
- Meperidine (Demerol)
- Oxycodone (OxyContin, Percodan, Percocet)
Why Do People Get Addicted to Opioids?
While opioids function as painkillers, they also produce strong feelings of euphoria. This experience, known as a “high,” is the primary reason people turn again and again to opioids. It may be obvious, but the fundamental reason most people take opioids is because they like how these drugs make them feel. However, it is important to examine the underlying causes of this feeling to understand why people become so helpless over time when it comes to opioids.
When people consume opioids, the drugs activate opioid receptors in the brain. Opioid receptors are located in the brains of all mammals, and they control feelings of pleasure and pain. When a drug has activated a person’s opioid receptors, the result is that pain signals are blocked. At the same time, these receptors cause the brain to release high quantities of a neurotransmitter known as dopamine.
Dopamine causes people to experience intense pleasure. It is the same chemical that is released when people have sex, make a slam dunk in basketball, or complete a personal goal. It is the brain’s way of rewarding itself. Dopamine plays an essential role in the brain’s motivation and decision making centers, and neurologists recognize dopamine as the neurotransmitter that is responsible for reinforcing behavior.
Opioids cause the brain to release more dopamine than just about any other activity, which means drug-taking behaviors become reinforced and almost impossible to say no to. When people feel a desire for opioids again, they may think they’re doing it because they like the feeling, but the underlying neurological reality is that their brains have been hijacked.
With regular use, people develop a tolerance to opioids. What is opioid tolerance? Opioid tolerance when the brain and body become accustomed to a specific dosage of opioids. Once a person has adapted to a specific dose of opioids, that same dose will no longer produce the same “high” that the individual has previously gotten. In order to get high, they have to either take opioids more frequently, increase their dosage, or switch to a more potent opiate. As a result, the phenomenon of tolerance causes people to consistently increase their dependence on opioids.
Alongside physical dependence comes withdrawal effects. When people become physically dependent on opioids, the result is that when they stop taking them they experience severe opioid withdrawal. The symptoms of opioid withdrawal are known to be excruciatingly painful and debilitating. As symptoms progress, cravings for opioids can become almost impossible to ignore. For this reason, even individuals with a strong desire to stop taking opioids are often unable to quit.
Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms
The initial symptoms of opioid withdrawal generally begin within the first day of quitting opioids. They can also occur when a person has simply cut down their dosage while continuing to use opioids. These mental and physical effects of opioid withdrawal include:
- Muscle aches
- Lacrimation (eyes tearing up)
- Yawning very often
- Inability to sleep
- Excessive sweating
- Runny nose
- Cravings for opioids
After two or three days, symptoms of opioid withdrawal generally reach their peak intensity. The earlier symptoms can become more severe, and many people experience a range of additional acute symptoms. These acute symptoms of opioid withdrawal include:
- Abdominal cramping
- Nausea and vomiting
- Goose bumps on the skin
- High blood pressure
- Rapid heartbeat
- Blurry vision and dilated pupils
- Extreme cravings for opioids
After approximately a week, the vast majority of these symptoms will have decreased in severity and continue to fade over time. However, most people continue to experience cravings for opioids over the coming weeks and months, and some people continue to experience withdrawal symptoms – a condition known as post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS). For these reasons, the risk of opioid relapse remains high even after a person has withdrawn from opioids. It is therefore essential for people to receive addiction treatment during the detox process and during the aftermath of that process.
Is Opioid Dependence the Same as Opioid Addiction?
In short, the answer is no. It is possible for a person to withdraw from opioids completely, at which point they are no longer physically dependent, but they may still suffer from an opioid addiction. Opioid addictions are mental in nature. Even after withdrawing from opioids, people with opioid addiction continue to experience obsessive thoughts and cravings having to do with opioids.
They may recognize the harms that opioids have inflicted, and they may understand how irrational it is to use opioids after having made it through the detox period, but individuals who suffer from addiction are helpless to say no.
It is important to understand that physical dependence on opioids is a major impediment to recovery, and withdrawal is difficult, but opioid addiction is a distinct condition. Opioid addiction is often far more difficult to manage, since it is caused by a wide variety of underlying factors.
The nature of addiction makes it impossible for a person to control without outside help. However, it is possible for a person to manage their addiction and live happily without opioids, as long as they seek outside help.
Types of Opiate/Opioid Addiction Treatment Programs
There are many options available for people who are addicted to opiates. These programs vary in their intensity, resources offered, and flexibility. In choosing an opioid addiction treatment program, it is generally a good idea to assess the severity of your own addiction and what sort of services you need.
Factors that determine what kind of program a person needs include the severity of their addiction, their level of functionality in terms of completing everyday tasks, and whether or not they suffer from comorbid mental and physical health problems. As people progress in their recovery and become more functional, most tend to move on to less acute treatment programs.
The two primary types of addiction treatment programs are inpatient programs and outpatient programs. Inpatient programs are residential treatment programs that offer an intensive level of care.
Inpatient programs offer 24-hour nursing staff monitoring, intensive therapy, and supervised detox for opioid withdrawal. Inpatient programs are generally ideal for individuals who have reached a point in their opioid addiction where they are unable to function at all in their daily lives. They are also beneficial for people whose lives have fallen apart to such an extent that they have no home or social support system. Inpatient programs allow these individuals to build a basic foundation for sobriety.
However, people can only attend inpatient programs for a limited period of time. The goal of any residential treatment program is to prepare clients for enrollment in longer term outpatient treatment programs. Outpatient treatment programs are addiction treatment programs that meet for several hours a day on multiple days a week. Clients live in their own personal homes, where they can benefit from their existing social support system.
This allows clients to continue to learn valuable tools, strategies, and coping mechanisms for staying sober and to continue addressing any underlying issues behind their addictions. Moreover, due to the outpatient nature of these programs, it provides clients with important opportunities for rebuilding their lives in the outside world.
Outpatient Rehab for Opioid Addiction
A wide variety of outpatient treatment programs for opioid addiction exist to meet different levels of addiction severity. Understanding which type of outpatient program is right for you involves assessing your current state. Important factors include how functional you are in your daily life, how strong your existing social support system is, how flexible you are, whether you have any comorbid mental health disorders, and of course how much and how often you took opioids.
Keep in mind that many people benefit from making use of multiple opioid addiction treatment programs, transitioning from a more intensive program to a less acute level of care as they progress in their recovery. In fact, research shows that people who make use of addiction treatment programs for longer periods of time are far less likely to relapse over the long term.
Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHPs)
Partial hospitalization programs, often known as PHPs, are by far the most acute level of care offered among outpatient treatment programs. Partial hospitalization programs are often held in hospitals, medical clinics, are addiction resource centers. They employ physicians, psychiatrists, and other medical professionals who work to meet the diverse needs of clients. Partial hospitalization programs are generally recommended for individuals whose opioid addictions have reached a level of severity that makes it nearly impossible to function in their everyday lives. PHPs can also be very beneficial as a transitional program to individuals who have recently graduated from a residential treatment program. Partial hospitalization programs generally meet for the majority of each day most days of the week, providing clients with an acute level of care while also enabling them to practice their newfound skills in the outside world.
Partial hospitalization programs are prepared to address the needs of clients who suffer from comorbid mental or physical health disorders. They are also ideal for people who are undergoing difficult or dangerous opioid detoxes. On-site physicians can set up a medication-assisted treatment (MAT) plan, which means they will prescribe medications to reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Meanwhile, PHP clients benefit from behavioral therapy, skills training, and group therapy, which enables them to develop an initial foundation for their sobriety.
Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOPs)
Intensive outpatient programs, or IOPs, are the second highest level of care offered by outpatient programs. They are designed for people whose addictions impede their functioning and who have had struggles with relapsing before. Like PHPs, IOPs are also often recommended as transitional programs for people who have finished residential treatment programs are partial hospitalization programs, though IOPs are also excellent first line treatment programs for individuals who have never attended any kind of addiction treatment program. Intensive outpatient programs meet for approximately half the day several days a week, providing clients with a great deal of support as they begin to rebuild their lives in the outside world.
Intensive outpatient programs work to ensure that clients develop the skills and coping techniques they need to get sober — and stay sober. Much of this involves learning to recognize personal triggers and developing plans to handle them without relapsing on opioids. Clients also work daily to address underlying issues that may be motivating their substance abuse habits. Intensive outpatient programs provide a wide variety of treatment methods, ranging from group therapy and individual therapy to support groups and skills workshops. Moreover, staff work with clients to help them develop more structured and fulfilling lives in general, supporting them as they begin to figure out new employment goals and heal damaged relationships with family members.
Outpatient Treatment Programs (OPs)
Outpatient programs for opioid addiction are the most fundamental level of care available. Most outpatient programs meet once or twice a week for a few hours. In many ways they are similar to IOPs, but they meet less frequently. For this reason, outpatient programs are ideal for individuals who require a great deal of flexibility so that they can meet work or family obligations. Outpatient programs are best for clients who are fairly functional in their lives but nonetheless require support for continued addiction recovery. They are excellent first line treatments for addiction, and they are also often recommended to people who have finished a PHP or IOP.
Outpatient programs employ highly trained and compassionate staff. Clients in outpatient programs benefit from a range of evidence-based addiction treatment methods. Group therapy is generally emphasized, though individual therapy is also often used to help clients address underlying issues. Clients in outpatient programs spend most of their time in the outside world, so much of the focus of outpatient programs is in helping clients meet the challenges they face and supporting them as they develop sober lives.
Aftercare plans are plans that are designed to help individuals stay sober and continue to receive support after having graduated from a formal treatment program. Case workers and treatment teams at outpatient programs generally work with clients before they graduate to set up an aftercare plan that meets their own individual needs. This ensures that graduating clients don’t feel like they’ve suddenly been tossed into the outside world without any support.
However, aftercare planning is about far more than just helping graduates make a smooth transition. Most people who stay sober continue to make use of aftercare services years after graduating from a formal treatment program. In fact, continued use of aftercare services is associated with a far lower risk of relapse over the course of a person’s life. People who stop engaging in aftercare services have likely not understood one of the primary lessons that treatment programs try to teach. The lesson is: addiction cannot be cured, but it can be managed. Like other chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure, opioid addiction can be put into remission as long as a person continues to follow their treatment regimen. However, it should also be mentioned that aftercare services are rarely a chore for people; in fact, most individuals find themselves drawn to aftercare services, which enrich and add joy to their lives.
Aftercare treatment programs can include a diverse array of elements, ranging from individual therapy to addiction support groups. Among support groups, 12-step based programs are the most popular. For opioid addiction, Narcotics Anonymous (NA) is the most obvious choice, though many benefit from attending Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings. At NA or AA meetings, individuals can meet other people who are recovering from the same conditions, benefiting from their experiences, strength, and hope. Not only can people learn new ways of coping in these meetings, but they also benefit from expanding their sober social support group, which is crucial for staying sober — and crucial for staying happy.
Opioid Addiction and Comorbid Conditions
Many people with opioid addiction also have accompanying mental health disorders. These individuals are often known as “dual diagnosis” clients. The relationship between opioid addiction and mental illness goes in both directions. Many people find that they develop symptoms of anxiety or depression as a result of the lifestyles they lead while addicted to opiates.
However, it also bears mentioning that mental health disorders themselves can also spur people to abuse opiates, especially when these mental health disorders are untreated or undiagnosed. It is common for people to turn to opioid abuse to get temporary relief from the emotionally distressing symptoms of mental illness. Ultimately, this tends to worsen the underlying mental illnesses. The result is a vicious cycle, during which both the substance use disorder and the mental health disorder reinforce each other and get steadily worse.
Common conditions that are often associated with opioid addiction include:
- Anxiety disorder
- Major depressive disorder
- Bipolar disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Eating disorders
Quality outpatient programs recognize that it is just as important to treat the mental health disorder as it is to treat the addiction. After all, no matter how good a person’s addiction treatment program is, if their mental illness symptoms flare up, a relapse is often inevitable. Quality outpatient treatment programs provide what is known as integrated treatment, a treatment modality that involves addressing both disorders at once. By receiving comprehensive care, dual diagnosis patients can get relief, often for the very first time, from both their mental health disorder(s) and their addiction.
Is Outpatient Treatment Right for Me?
Outpatient treatment programs provide quality evidence-based treatment for individuals suffering from opioid addiction. Outpatient rehabs are beneficial as first line treatments for individuals who have never attended any formal treatment program. They are also often utilized to help clients make a smoother transition into the outside world after finishing a more acute program. To determine whether an outpatient program is right for you, it is important to assess your addiction severity, your level of flexibility, and your existing level of support. Outpatient treatment programs are ideal for the following types of people:
- People who require flexible treatment programs so they can meet work, school, or family obligations
- People who want a cost-effective treatment program
- People with comorbid mental health disorders, such as depression, eating disorder, bipolar disorder, or post-traumatic stress disorder
- People who have finished a residential treatment program and want continued support as they rebuild their lives
- People who have relapsed often and want a stronger foundation of sober skills
- People who have a home to return to each night, and ideally a strong existing support system
- People who want to be able to choose from a wide range of levels of care
- People who want help rebuilding their lives in the outside world
- People who want to expand their sober social support networks
Paying for Opioid Addiction Treatment
Rehab for opioid addiction is not free. However, it is generally a good investment in one’s financial future. After all, buying heroin, oxycodone, and other opiates is an expensive habit. Additionally, the consequences that people face during active addiction often include serious financial wreckage. It is common for people to lose their jobs, accumulate debt, and face expensive legal difficulties.
Even in the rare circumstance that a person does not suffer severe harms from their opioid addiction, it is unlikely that they will be able to advance much at their job. Achieving sobriety unlocks many doors and enables one to life a prosperous life, which means that paying for addiction treatment is likely to be a sound investment.
Outpatient treatment programs are less expensive than residential treatment programs. Clients are able to get all of the treatments they would normally receive from an inpatient program, but because they do not have to pay for a bed, outpatient programs are far more affordable. However, given that most people have limited financial resources available after years of opioid addiction, paying for addiction rehab can often seem intimidating. Fortunately, there are many options available.
Insurance companies will often lighten the financial burden, often paying for the entirety of addiction treatment. In fact, under the Affordable Care Act, addiction treatment is considered an essential health benefit. This means that health insurance companies are legally obligated to pay for addiction treatment. While this does not guarantee that any particular outpatient treatment program will be covered, it does ensure that you can get the treatment you need without draining your bank account.
If you have chosen an outpatient treatment program that is not covered by your health insurance plan, other options are still available, including loans, scholarships, and payment plans. In many cases, family members who are eager to see their addicted loved one recover are more than willing to lend a hand.
Finding Outpatient Treatment Programs Near Me
NuView Treatment Center, located in West Los Angeles, provides high quality treatment for opioid addiction at all levels of care. Our outpatient programs include partial hospitalization programs (PHPs), intensive outpatient programs (IOPs), outpatient programs (OPs), and aftercare planning. This enables clients to begin their recovery journey at any point, and it allows them to make smooth transitions to less acute programs as they develop stronger foundations in sobriety. NuView Treatment Center is also covered by the vast majority of health insurance plans.
Our trained and compassionate staff offer the latest evidence-based treatment modalities. Clients work daily to develop strategies for dealing with common triggers, address underlying issues, and develop confidence in their newfound sobriety. At NuView Treatment Center, we recognize that all clients have different stories, and we offer individualized treatment plans to ensure that each person’s unique needs are met. Our holistic and comprehensive treatment programs help people deal with their addictions head on, as well as comorbid mental health disorders. Our goal is to help people get sober, but more than that we aim to provide clients with the tools they need to stay sober.
Opioid Addiction Treatment Center Los Angeles
At NuView Treatment Center, our philosophy is that recovering from addiction involves far more than just achieving physical abstinence. We work to help clients build new lives for themselves that are joyous, prosperous, and free.
Most people want to get sober because they are miserable in their lives, so an essential element of recovering from opioid addiction is developing a new one. We support our clients on their journeys as they heal damaged relationships, develop new ones, and take steps toward new career goals.
We understand how difficult it can be to recover from opioid addiction. Many of our clients arrive broken and hopeless, but we are inspired daily by the changes they are able to make. If you are ready for a new way of life, reach out to NuView Treatment Center today. Recovery is possible.