More than 115 people die in the United States every day from opioid overdoses. In 2015 alone, there were over 33,000 Americans who died from using this powerful substance.
Perhaps the scariest part of this trend is the fact that many addictions to opioids begin with a legitimate prescription from a trusted doctor. From there, use can become abuse very quickly.
If you are struggling with opioid addiction, you are not alone. This type of prescription drug addiction is unfortunately extremely common. One study estimated that nearly one in three people know someone who is addicted to opioids. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH), approximately 21-29% of patients who are legally prescribed opioids for chronic pain end up misusing them, and 8-12% end up developing an addiction.
The good news is that there is help. Rehab centers like Denver Recovery Center can help you get control over your life again and make changes toward a healthy and happy future.
If you are looking for specific topic information, you can click on one of the topics listed below to jump to that section:
- What are opioids?
- Why are opioid abuse and addiction so dangerous?
- What are the signs of an addiction?
- Does quitting cause withdrawal?
- How is it treated?
- Where can I get treatment in Denver, Colorado?
- Take the first step toward recovery today.
What are opioids?
Opioids are a class of drugs that includes heroin as well as prescription pain relievers such as oxycodone (Oxycontin®️), hydrocodone (Vicodin®️), codeine, morphine, fentanyl, and others. Many of these drugs are legitimate and legal prescription pain relievers. However, long term use can often lead to misuse.
Opioids are classified together, and they all have a similar effect on the human body. They bond to certain receptors in the brain, providing effective pain relief by blocking any painful sensations. They also produce feelings of euphoria and extreme relaxation by releasing endorphins. This happens in what is known as the pleasure center of the brain.
After the high from the medication wears off, many people are left with cravings for more. Additionally, many people find that they build up a tolerance to the drug rather quickly, making increased dosages at shortened intervals necessary in order to reach the same level of pleasure and pain relief.
Many people are familiar with the drug heroin and can correctly identify it as an opioid. One of the most common opioids that Americans get addicted to is heroin. In 2016, there were more than 13,000 deadly heroin overdoses. About 80% of people who use heroin admit to first misusing prescription opioids. When asked why they switched from prescription pills to heroin, 94% of people explained that it was due to the fact that heroin is a cheaper form of the drug and it is easier to get.
Why is opioid abuse so dangerous?
According to the US National Library of Medicine, drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death in American adults under the age of 50. Opioids account for more than half of the drug overdose deaths. The number of people who misuse these drugs has steadily grown at an alarming rate for decades.
In the years spanning from 1999-2008, overdose death rates increased by 400%. Sales of prescription opioids also went up 400%, and the number of people admitted into substance use disorder treatment centers went up by 600% during the same period.
One of the biggest dangers with prescription opioids is combining them with alcohol or other drugs. People who have become addicted to prescription painkillers will often begin to doctor shop or go to multiple doctors until they find several who are willing to prescribe the drugs. These doctors may also be likely to write prescriptions for other drugs such as benzodiazepines. With multiple doctors writing prescriptions for one patient, each unaware of what the others are prescribing, a lethal combination can easily be created. If the patient takes multiple medications at once, they may have an adverse reaction which could lead to a fatal overdose.
What are the signs of an opioid addiction?
There are many signs that you can look for if you are concerned that someone you know may have an opioid addiction. These signs include changes in the person’s physical appearance, behavior, or other factors in their life. Some examples include:
- Slow movement
- Slurred speech
- Suddenly falling asleep while sitting or standing
- Slowed heart rate
- Slowed breathing
- Pinpoint pupils
- Signs of needle or “track” marks
- Noticeable euphoria
Changes in Behavior
- Sudden and drastic mood swings
- Poor judgment
- Poor concentration
- Problems with memory
- Sudden failure to take care of responsibilities
- Avoiding people
- Circle of friends becomes smaller
- Social isolation
- Extra pill bottles
- Doctor shopping
- Continued use despite problems it causes
- Legal trouble
- Financial problems
- Paraphernalia (vials, baggies, needles, bent spoons, etc.)
Does quitting opiates cause withdrawal?
Unfortunately, quitting opiates usually causes a patient to experience withdrawal symptoms. These may be minor aches and pains, slight discomfort, or they can be very painful. Depending on the amount and length of use, medical detox may even be necessary to avoid potentially dangerous complications. It is a good idea to undergo medically supervised detox rather than try to get through it on your own. Typically, withdrawal symptoms may include:
- Stomach pain
- Cold sweats/chills
- Severe anxiety
- Trouble sleeping
- Muscle tension
- Shaking or quivering
- General pain throughout the body
With proper medical supervision, detoxifying the body and the withdrawal process that goes along with it can be managed in such a way that the patient experiences far fewer painful side effects. This may include the use of synthetic drugs, such as methadone, to allow the patient time to slowly taper off the drug completely rather than quit cold turkey. This should only be done with the supervision of a medically trained professional in a clinical setting.
How is opioid addiction treated?
There are many different treatment approaches to help people who are addicted to opioids. The first step with any successful treatment method is usually detox. This is the stage where withdrawal from the drug happens. Detox is often physically and mentally painful, which means that medically supervised detox is typically necessary. With proper supervision and monitoring, many patients have the option of taking other medications to help their body get through this period.
This transition period is oftentimes the most difficult for an individual to experience; however, it is absolutely necessary. Many people try to quit on their own but are understandably unable to continue through the entire painful withdrawal process and go back to using drugs to end their symptoms. Medically supervised detox helps ensure that you are able to make it all the way through the withdrawal stage.
Many people think that recovering from addiction and detox are the same process. Detox is actually just the first step of treatment. After cleansing your body from drugs and ending your withdrawal symptoms, rehab programs will have you begin the therapies that can help you truly change and recover from addiction. Too often, people end their recovery with detox and then go back to their old habits when life becomes stressful or overwhelming. Learning new coping skills can help you stay sober when times are hard.
After you have completed the initial detox period, you will be ready to move forward with your treatment. There are many options to choose from when it comes to the level of care an individual receives. Some of these include:
Inpatient/Residential Treatment: The patient resides at the treatment facility 24/7. They will not only sleep and eat there, but may also receive individual counseling, family and group therapy, case management, medication supervision, and other relevant classes and programs.
Residential treatment is the most common level of care following medical detox. It provides around the clock supervision along with everything else you or your loved one will need during recovery.
Residential treatment can last for vastly periods of time depending on the client, the facility, and the rehab program. A patient could spend anywhere from a couple of weeks up to a full year at this level of care. The most common length of time for residential treatment is between 30-90 days.
Partial Hospitalization/Intensive Outpatient: In this program, the individual might attend classes, meetings, and therapy sessions on site throughout the majority of each day. The biggest difference with this level of care is that the patient generally sleeps off-site (usually at a sober living home nearby that is associated with the facility).
This level of care is most common following an initial treatment phase that is completely residential (as mentioned above). This level allows people to slowly re-emerge back into society while having ongoing support and education at every step of the way.
The length of treatment at this level can also vary widely. Some people spend as little as 30 days in an out-patient program and are very successful. Others may continue at this level of care for up to one year. The most common length of time is somewhere between 90-180 days.
Outpatient Treatment: Regular outpatient services offer the same treatment options as intensive outpatient and inpatient levels of care. The main difference here is the amount of time spent at the facility. This phase is usually another level down the path to recovery. The patient resides off-site and attends classes and counseling sessions at the facility on a regular basis.
As the individual shows more and more evidence of being able to maintain their sobriety in the world, their time commitments to the program can gradually decrease. By the time they reach outpatient treatment, they may only need to attend the facility 2-3 days per week for 1-3 hours each day.
This level of care can vary in length of time required to complete it. Some individuals are able to finish in a relatively short amount of time. Other people require longer time frames to fully feel secure in their newfound sobriety.
When you enter a rehab program, you will find that there are many approaches to treating addiction. Your treatment will likely include some of the following therapies:
Individual Therapy: Therapy that takes place between the patient and their therapist. It focuses on specific issues in the client’s past that may have lead them to become addicted to alcohol or drugs.
Group Therapy: Therapy that is done in a group setting amongst peers. These group meetings focus on the common issues that are shared between people in the group.
Family Therapy: Therapy that is done with a therapist, the client, and their immediate family or friends. It focuses on issues that exist between each of the members of the family and aims to educate and improve communication between individuals.
Holistic Therapy: This is based on the premise that treatment must address the patient’s mind, body and soul. In order to gain a successful outcome, you must treat all three.
Dual Diagnosis: This refers to help for individuals who suffer from addiction to alcohol or drugs along with a mental health condition. Many people who struggle with addiction also suffer from things like depression, anxiety, or other concerns. This type of therapy seeks solutions to both issues simultaneously.
Experiential Therapy: This is therapy that is done through healthy and positive experiences such as outdoor activities, horseback riding, and more.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT is a specific approach to treatment that is based on the idea that patterns and behaviors are learned, and can therefore be unlearned, allowing for new healthy behaviors to emerge.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR): This is a therapeutic approach that takes place between a client and their therapist. The patient recalls traumatic or painful memories while the therapist performs certain actions that allow the client’s brain to think about that memory in a different way.
Where can I get treatment in Denver, Colorado?
If you are seeking treatment for your addiction to opioids and live in the Denver area, we can help. Denver Recovery Center is one of the leading treatment facilities in the area. We specialize in a holistic approach to treating addiction. We realize that no two people are the same, and therefore no two treatment plans should be either. We customize a treatment program around each individual client that meets their unique needs.
Our facility offers evidence-based treatments that are designed around you and your specific challenges and concerns. Our staff is dedicated to the future success of each and every client that comes through our doors. We believe in a holistic approach that seeks to heal the mind, body, and soul.
Take the first step toward recovery today.
If you or a loved one are suffering from the devastating effects of opioid addiction, you don’t have to suffer any longer. Take the first step and call our facility today at 844-307-2955. Our admissions counselors are standing by to take your call and get you started on the path to a happy life that is free from drugs and alcohol.
By making that call now, you are taking back the power over your life and starting the journey towards sobriety. Don’t delay any more. Call us today!