Opiate addiction in the United States has become an epidemic. Due to the prevalence of prescription opiate containing pain medications, the use of illicit opiates has grown to epic proportions. This has lead to a huge increase in the number of opiate-related deaths and injuries. Traditionally, the treatment for opiate addiction has included therapy and replacement medications to prevent relapse.
The Effects of Opiate Addiction
Opiate addiction begins with a gradual buildup of tolerance over time. This tolerance causes the user to seek out more of the drug in order to achieve the same pleasurable effects. With chronic use, the body becomes physically dependent on opiates in order to function normally. If they abruptly stop using opiates, a withdrawal will occur.
Withdrawal from opiates is usually extremely uncomfortable. It can cause a multitude of symptoms including:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Body aches
- Flu like symptoms
- Intense cravings for the drug
Withdrawal from opiates is so severe that most people can not quit using on their own. They will need the help and support of a treatment program that utilizes medications to ease these symptoms. Tolerance to opiates is reduced significantly during and after detox, and when cravings for the drug are not addressed, patients often go back out and use. The lowered tolerance means that the dosage of opiates a patient was using prior to detox will be too much for their body to tolerate. This results in overdose and death when relapse is not prevented.
Even after physical detox is accomplished, the cravings for opiates can be overwhelming and intense. Chronic use of opiates affects chemicals in the brain that are essential in feeling pleasure. When opiate use is stopped, it takes time for the brain to become acclimated to functioning without it. It is common for recovering opiate addicts to have trouble experiencing pleasure from normal activities for weeks after use has stopped. Patients can end up using opiates again so that they feel some relief from the depression they feel during the first weeks of recovery. Replacement medications can help ease these symptoms and keep patients on the path to recovery.
Replacement Medications to Treat Opiate Addiction
Medications like methadone and suboxone have been used for years to treat opiate addiction. These medications ease withdrawal symptoms in patients and replace the need for illegal opiates, like heroin. These are extended release medications that lessen cravings for opiates without producing the euphoric high associated with other drugs. Although these medications are very effective at curbing illegal opiate use and reducing relapse rates, there are some drawbacks to their use.
Methadone and suboxone are maintenance medications that need to be taken every day in order to be effective. Compliance with taking these medications has always been an issue. Patients understand that they can stop taking their medication and go out and use drugs again each day. Even though these maintenance medications work well to reduce cravings, patients remember the euphoric high they felt while using and know that within a day they can feel it again.
Both methadone and suboxone are opiate-containing medications. When taken properly in the correct dosage, they are effective. However, they do have the potential for abuse when patients take more than they are supposed to at a given time. These medications are themselves addictive, although they produce fewer side effects and pose less of a danger than using opiates illegally.
Why is Sublocade Different?
Sublocade is the newest medication for opiate addiction to be approved by the FDA. It contains buprenorphine, which has been available in oral doses for opiate addiction treatment for some time. Sublocade is a once-monthly injectable version of this medication. This shot removes the problem of compliance for patients since it is only needed once a month instead of taken daily. It also removes the issue of abuse since it is administered in a medical office instead of prescribed and taken home. The dosage cannot be adjusted by the patient which lessens the risk of overdose and other side effects.
Opiate addiction ruins the lives of those who are addicted and those around them. It is a complicated, serious disease that needs to be treated with all the tools that are available. Sublocade will not replace the need for traditional recovery treatments but can be effective when used in conjunction with them. It is not a total cure for opiate addiction, but it can absolutely help sufferers stay in treatment longer so that they can fully participate in their recovery.
During treatment, patients need to participate in therapy and become a part of the facility’s community. Opiate addicts who seek help will need to learn coping strategies for avoiding relapse. Life is full of stresses and recovering addicts need to relearn how to deal with these stressors without the use of illicit drugs. Group therapy is also used so that users can share their experiences with addiction and discuss what they are doing to overcome their cravings and avoid using again. Many opiate addicts begin using because of an underlying psychological or physical disorder. These issues must be addressed and treated during recovery if long-term sobriety is going to be achieved.
The longer an individual stays in a treatment program, the greater their chance at lifelong recovery from their opiate addiction. Sublocade helps alleviate withdrawal symptoms and the intense cravings when patients stop using opiates. When these symptoms are reduced, patients remain in treatment longer. The more time patients spend in treatment, the more they learn about what caused their addiction, what coping strategies they can use to avoid relapse, and how to set realistic goals for themselves once they return to normal life. More time spent in treatment also leads to new relationships being formed with other like-minded clean and sober individuals instead of returning to their old peer group where drugs are still being abused.
Opiate addiction is a difficult illness to overcome. Sublocade is not a magic bullet or a cure for opiate addiction, but it is a useful tool that can be used to fight addiction. If you or someone you know has questions about Sublocade and opiate addiction, our counselors are available twenty-four hours a day to answer your questions. Start your journey to recovery today. Call 877 813-9235