opioid educationOpioids are psychoactive chemicals that occur naturally in the resin of the poppy plant or can be made in a laboratory. They work by binding to opioid receptors in the central and peripheral nervous system and the gastrointestinal tract. Within the last few decades, there has been an alarming uptick in prescription opiates as well as opioid overdoses. The combination of overprescribing and the addictiveness of these drugs has created an epidemic in America. We wish to be an answer to this overwhelming problem first by helping as many people as we can, but also by setting a standard in modern opioid treatment. We have seen great success through our program by using one simple but effective rule: find what works and stick to it.

Often, people are caught up in how treatment programs should look and less about how it should be. Coalition Recovery has collaborated with countless other treatment facilities to find out what has been successful for them. We have created a program that encompasses what we believe is a truly comprehensive and effective rehabilitation program.

History of Opioids

Opioids have been around for thousands of years. Opium, which is derived from the flowering opium poppy plant, is one the first opiates used by some of the earliest forms of human civilization and was traditionally used for medicinal purposes like pain relief. The drug was used recreationally but the addictive effects were unclear. Opioid forms have evolved since, but no matter what new form it takes, the addictive effects continue to linger.

Opioid Withdrawal and Detox

Opiate withdrawal can be a strong obstacle in overcoming addiction. Opiates leave the body’s system within two days, but depending on the drug, withdrawal symptoms begin within a few hours of use. Opioid withdrawals are extremely uncomfortable but unlike alcohol and benzodiazepines, withdrawals from opiates alone are not fatal. When combined with other drugs like alcohol, withdrawal symptoms can lead to life-threatening seizures.

Opioid Withdrawal Management

To find out exactly what your withdrawal symptoms will look like, consult your doctor or a psychiatrist before discontinuing opiate usage. A professional doctor will be able to provide you with specific information on what to expect. They may recommend a detox program; at least for the first week; to safely and comfortably wean off of the opiate.

Detox from Opioids

The opiate detoxification process typically depends on the type of opiate used and whether or not the opiate was used alongside other substances as well. The length of detox generally depends on how long a person has been taking the substance. For instance, an individual who has been prescribed Oxycontin for back pain the last 20 years will have a much higher tolerance to opioids, therefore having a much higher dependence on the drug, and ultimately much more severe withdrawal symptoms.

The detox process can be done an inpatient setting with 24-hour clinical monitoring and care. Opiate detox can now be done at an outpatient level as well (depending on the severity of use). This means that individuals may only require a check-in once a day to facilitate the necessary medications required and analysis of health and progress.

How Opioids Work

Our body creates a variety of opioids naturally called endogenous opioids. Endogenous opioids modulate our reactions to painful stimuli. They also regulate vital functions such as hunger and thirst and are involved in mood control, immune response, and other processes.

Opiates (the drugs that are consumed) act by attaching to specific proteins called opioid receptors, which are found on nerve cells in the brain, spinal cord, gastrointestinal tract, and other organs in the body. They act in the same way as endogenous opioids, but to a much higher degree. So, because opioids help with pain modulation, opiates can be used to help mitigate pain; but because opioids are also responsible for mood control, opiates have a two-fold effect of creating a euphoric feeling as well as managing pain. This euphoric feeling is the primary cause of addiction.

When a person ingests an opiate, this drug activates opioid receptors throughout the brain causing a rush of neurotransmitters like endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin, all responsible for reward and pleasure. These neurotransmitters typically release when we eat, have sex, and have fun; incentivizing us to want to do the things that make us human. When people feel these pleasurable feelings by simply taking a pill (and to a higher degree than normal) they begin to lose many of the everyday pleasures of life.

When a person uses opiates consistently, the brain becomes used to the influx of pleasure chemicals and starts to require more to feel the same effects, thus leading to potential drug abuse. For this reason, it is very common for individuals to develop depression and anxiety disorders due to the imbalance of natural chemicals in the brain. Often times, when people try to stop taking opiates, they not only feel the physical withdrawals from the drug but psychological ones as well. This is why medications to offset the physical and psychological withdrawals during detox at an opioid rehab can be very beneficial and effective.

People can become addicted to opioids in a variety of ways:

  • The traditional way of trying a drug to get high
  • A person is attracted to the euphoric feeling after being prescribed an opiate for medical reasons.
  • A person has a prescription for opiates for chronic pain, therefore, developed a dependence on the drug.

The function of prescription opiates is to relieve pain; unfortunately, they do more than that; opiates relax people and give people a sense of euphoria. For this reason, people who may not have intended to ever try drugs end up abusing them due to an injury. For this reason, opiate use disorders have spread across America and every demographic. Not everyone who takes opiates becomes addicted. A person’s environmental factors, genetics, and overall mental state have a large influence on whether an individual becomes addicted to opioids or not.

This means opioid use disorders are a mental health issue requiring professional medical help. Some people may find success in group therapy or counseling strictly, but to obtain the best chance for long term success, a combination of medications, therapy, counseling, and educational guidance is optimal for effective treatment. Contact Coalition Recovery today to learn more.