The opioid epidemic has enslaved millions of Americans in a life of addiction and hopelessness. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, nearly 30% of patients who use prescription painkillers end up misusing them, and up to 12% develop an addiction to them. Of those, about 4-6% switch to heroin. And every day, 128 people die in the United States from an opioid overdose.
Those are sobering statistics, and if you’re among them, you know why the numbers are high — because opioids are powerful drugs. It’s not impossible to kick the habit on your own, but the odds aren’t in your favor.
And that’s why the cycle of opioid addiction continues to plague people from all walks of life, devastating countless lives and costing $78.5 billion a year in health care costs, addiction treatments, lost wages and productivity, and criminal justice fees.
But that doesn’t mean there’s no hope. If you’re addicted to opioids, you don’t have to manage it alone. At Alpha Care Medical, we offer medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid substance abuse. Here’s what you need to know.
How to tell if you’re addicted to opioids
Not everyone who takes an opioid becomes addicted. These powerful pain medications, such as codeine, hydrocodone, morphine, fentanyl, and tramadol, are often prescribed to help people get through excruciating pain from trauma or extreme illnesses, such as cancer.
Unfortunately, if someone takes any of these prescription drugs for longer than two weeks, the chances increase that the body will become dependent on them. One clear sign that you may be dependent on an opioid is if the same dose no longer relieves your pain, and you feel compelled to take more. You or loved ones may also notice that you have mood swings, a lack of interest in things you once enjoyed, and a change in your sense of responsibility and decision-making ability.
How to get off opioids
If you know or suspect you’re addicted to opioids, you may think quitting cold turkey is the best way to quit. However, that’s generally ineffective, and it can also be dangerous.
Opioid withdrawal symptoms are usually severe, which is why many people fail and return to the drug. However, gradually reducing the dosage under professional supervision can be successful. But your body and mind will still react to the weaning process.
The type and intensity of your withdrawal symptoms will depend on the drug you’re taking, how long you’ve been taking it, and many other variables, but the classic side effects include:
- More pain
- Anxiety, restlessness, and irritability
- Increased heart rate and high blood pressure
- Muscle twitching, cramps, and tremors
- Nausea, diarrhea, vomiting
- Sweating and chills
- Sleep problems
- Suicidal thoughts
You can avoid or drastically reduce these effects by choosing to quit opioids with a medication-assisted treatment.
At Alpha Care Medical, our addiction specialists combine MAT with proven behavioral health approaches, such as psychotherapy and cognitive behavioral therapy. This combined treatment can do the following things:
- Help bridge the gap between the physical and mental challenges
- Help you overcome your cravings
- Give you the tools you need to stay off opioids for life
And as we wean you off the drug, we’ll give you FDA-approved medications, such as methadone, buprenorphine, or naltrexone, to help reduce your cravings for opioids, prevent overdoses, and block the opioid’s effect on your brain. The benefits of MAT include:
- Decrease in opioid use
- Decrease in opioid overdose deaths
- Decrease in criminal activity related to opioids
- Increase in social functioning
- Reduced cravings
- Reduced withdrawal symptoms
- Higher long-term success rate
If you want to get off opioids but don’t think you can, contact us at any of our Delaware offices in Seaford, Millsboro, Harrington, or Dover, to get the help you need to get off opioids for good.