Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) is a long-lasting, chronic substance abuse disorder that creates major health, social and economic problems. Opiates can be legally prescribed painkillers or illegally sold in the form of heroin, one of the most dangerous of all illicit drugs.
Opiate addiction is one of the most common forms of drug dependency and, without treatment, the results of that addiction can be catastrophic. Our treatment program for opiate addiction is here to help you or your loved one overcome this powerful disease and start a new life.
Opioid Use Disorder
What are Opiates?
Opiates are a class of drug that act in the nervous system and on the pleasure and pain receptors in the brain. They are used to manufacture narcotic painkillers such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, fentanyl, and morphine and are highly addictive when used over time or in excess. Heroin is an illicit form of opiates and is just as addictive as legal painkillers.
While these drugs are used to reduce pain, they are also consumed recreationally, even when manufactured in medicinal form. Whether someone has been using narcotic painkillers or heroin, men and women who continually abuse opiates are putting their future and their life at risk.
These drugs, also referred to as opioids, change the chemistry of the brain, leading to drug tolerance, which means the dose needs to be increased over time to achieve the same effect. Taking opiates over a long period of time produces dependence, such that when people stop taking the drug, they have physical and psychological symptoms of withdrawal.
Not only can withdrawal from opiates be unpleasant or uncomfortable, it can be can life threatening if the addict returns to the drug and uses the same dosage amount as they had before withdrawal. This is where medicated-assisted treatment not only creates new patterns of sustainable life for the addict, but also saves lives.
What is Opioid Use Disorder (OUD)?
Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) is characterized by a powerful, compulsive urge to use opioid drugs, even when they are no longer medically required. Because opioids change the chemistry of the brain, they have a high potential for causing addiction - even when the medications are prescribed appropriately and taken as directed. Many prescription opioids are misused or diverted to others. Individuals who become addicted may prioritize getting and using these drugs over other activities in their lives, often negatively impacting their professional and personal relationships.
Opiate addiction can cause life-threatening health problems, including the risk of overdose. Overdose occurs when high doses of opioids cause breathing to slow or stop, leading to unconsciousness and death if the overdose is not treated immediately. Both legal and illegal opiates carry a risk of overdose if a person takes too much of the drug, or if they are combined with other drugs.
Facts and Statistics
Over the past 25 years, the opioid epidemic has continued to rise. In the United States alone, more than 130 people die from opioid overdose each day.
In 2017, more than 47,000 Americans died as a result of an opioid overdose, including prescription opioids, heroin, and illicitly manufactured fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse found that roughly 21-29% of patients prescribed to opioids for chronic pain misuse them. They also found that 4-6% of those who misuse them transition into heroin use.
Research studies have shown that Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) significantly decreases the risk of opiate dependency and overdose. In studies where placebos were given to patients, replacement therapy drugs such as methadone and buprenorphine showed significant results in decreasing opioid usage where the placebos had little to no effect.
Learn more about Why MAT Works.
Symptoms and Diagnosis
The first step to recovery is recognizing you have problem with opioids. The signs and symptoms can be physical, behavioral, or psychological. The major sign of addiction is not being able to stop using the substance. This includes not being able to stop using more than the recommended amount.
Other signs of opioid abuse or addiction can include:
Euphoria (feeling high)
Shallow or slow breathing rate
Opiate Addiction and MAT
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved three medications for use in the treatment of opioid dependence: methadone, naltrexone, and buprenorphine. Using these drugs for treatment is known as Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT). MAT is a corrective but not curative treatment for opiate dependence. Because methadone and buprenorphine are opiates, some people equate them to “giving drugs to drug addicts.” However, this is not the case.
Treatment with these drugs is called opiate replacement therapy (ORT). When taken as prescribed, these long-acting medications do not get the person high. They relieve narcotic cravings, prevent symptoms of withdrawal, and block euphoric effects associated with heroin and other powerful narcotic medications. Like other opiates, they bind to the body’s natural opiate receptors, but they are less addictive. When taken appropriately, these medications prevent overdose and help those in therapy feel normal and live normal lives.
If you or a loved one are addicted to opioids, recognize the signs and seek help now.
Our team is here to help our patients and their families overcome this disease and begin the path to recovery.
Learn more about our treatment programs.