Prescription narcotics are extremely dangerous. As more overdose deaths are linked to prescription opioids, many individuals and families search for relief. Millions of Americans are battling substance abuse, with a large percentage facing opioid abuse. The nationwide opioid epidemic depicts the realities of the addictive nature of these prescribed medicines. While drug treatment remains a central pillar in fighting addiction, opioid relapse prevention is also top of mind. What strategies can individuals deploy to help overcome opioids for good?
Rising drug overdose deaths make substance abuse treatment mission-critical. In recent years, increased opioid and illicitly manufactured fentanyl overdoses have substantially contributed to overdose rates. Those rates don’t appear to be slowing.
If you or someone you know is battling opioid addiction, AspenRidge Recovery can help. Through our compassionate opioid treatment program, we provide tailored services to address opioid addiction and its underlying causes. Contact us directly at (719) 259-1107.
Impacts of the Opioid Epidemic
By the numbers, the U.S. opioid epidemic claimed 70,630 lives in 2019, according to Health and Human Services. Over one million Americans are battling opioid use disorder, and over 10 million misused prescription opioids in the past year. These numbers, tragically, are continuing to rise.
The term epidemic refers to something that may “affect or tends to affect a disproportionately large number of individuals within a population, community, or region simultaneously,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Opioid addiction is a real disease impacting millions, and relief from the struggles of abuse is difficult to achieve.
As new treatment programs become available, more communities are finding methods to address opioid abuse. Additionally, prescription medication dangers are more evident, giving doctors and patients a more realistic depiction of misusing prescription meds. However, once opioid abuse becomes problematic, recovery programs become more essential. Creating an opioid relapse prevention plan is a core component to long-term recovery.
Function of Opioids
Opioids are predominantly used to help manage pain, especially for chronic diseases like cancer and end-of-life care. Common opioids that became highly abused were OxyContin and Vicodin. In 2017, the Department of Health and Human Services declared a public health emergency and enacted an urgent strategy to address the opioid crisis in the United States. To address how to prevent opioid abuse, it’s important to understand how the drug functions.
Opioid Applications & Reasons for Abuse
Opioids are most commonly used to relieve pain caused by several different types of physical disorders and illnesses. The function of opioids is clear. This particular prescription medication is used to help block pain receptors, allowing for patients to experience less pain caused by cancer, chronic pain, and arthritis. Opioids are extremely effective in relieving some of the most drastic types of pain, which is one of the reasons they are so prevalent among substance abuse issues.
Opioid medications are still commonly prescribed by physicians to help reduce pain, but the regulations around opioid medication have shifted in light of the confirmed risks. Addiction specialists are continually looking for ways to prevent opioid abuse, but the task at hand is far from easy.
Common pain and pain disorders treated by opioids include:
- Cancer Pain
- Diabetic Nerve Pain
- Chronic Pain
- Post-Surgical Recovery Pain
What Are Side-Effects of Opioids?
Heroin and opioid medications can have severe long-term and short-term consequences. The use of opioids either legally or illegally warrants close monitoring as they can quickly develop into an opioid addiction.
Use can often go unnoticed by family, friends, and coworkers causing opioid use to be used for long periods of time. Common signs of opioid use include:
- Loss of Memory
- Weight Loss
- Breathing Problems
During early recovery, overcoming opioid addiction is not an easy task. Due to the nature of addiction, people will often battle with cravings and symptoms of withdrawal. The first part of opioid recovery is crucial as it helps the body to rid itself of toxins caused by abuse. As body functions return to normal, individuals have to contend with underlying mental issues that may contribute or cause abuse.
Withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to severe. Recovery is best handled with experienced addiction treatment specialists, as the results of stopping opioids can be risky and even lethal. Symptoms of withdrawal can include:
- High blood pressure
A person who is dependent on opioids will experience symptoms of withdrawal if they reduce or suddenly stop taking opioids. This can cause a vicious cycle—a person might try to cut back or stop using, and upon suffering uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, they will begin taking the drug again to relieve the symptoms.
How To Prevent Opioid Relapse
Relapse is a reality of all addiction, regardless of the substance used. Preventing and controlling relapse during opioid addiction treatment requires taking specific measures such as:
- Communication with treatment specialists or medical professionals: Quality communication between the patient and doctor enables more flexible treatment. It also helps the patient’s treatment team notice any changes in the patient’s needs as they recover.
- An appropriate treatment strategy: Tailored treatment programs are usually the most effective as they cater to individual needs. When relapse happens, a person may need to identify a different approach depending on their specific circumstances or situations.
- Mental health support: Mental health care is a critical component of opioid relapse prevention. Mental health counseling can help identify and treat underlying causes of opioid abuse. Identifying and learning health coping skills can help prevent ongoing opioid abuse and focus attention on long-term recovery. Counselors help patients identify and plan for triggers to reduce their risk of opioid relapse.
After a client reaches a stable point in their recovery, they can still experience relapse. The strategies for preventing relapse during or after opioid treatment are:
- Developing a relapse prevention plan: Creating a relapse prevention plan is helpful to establish an understanding of triggers. Additionally, relapse prevention plan should be fluid and adapt to different progression markers during and after recovery. As a person moves toward reintegrating in society, revising relapse prevention plans can make them more effective. These plans include coping strategies and who to contact if relapse happens.
- Building a support system: Having people to reach out to when recovery becomes difficult can help a patient prevent relapse.
- Involvement in community recovery groups: Activities with other people in recovery, such as community groups, support patients after they finish treatment.
Opioid Relapse Prevention Treatments | AspenRidge Colorado Centers
AspenRidge Recovery offers a phased approach to treatment and has a highly reputable and effective program that involves a 90-day partial hospitalization program, intensive outpatient care, and an alumni support program that aids in maintaining sobriety even after program completion.
AspenRidge is a confidential recovery center in Colorado. AspenRidge understands the challenges that arise from opioid use. We offer access to self-assessment tools that may provide more clarity on how to address or prevent opioid abuse. Feel free to look for additional addiction treatment resources.
Prospective clients may contact AspenRidge Recovery Centers to discuss Opioid Addiction Treatment Program at (719) 259-1107. Gaining knowledge prior to taking the steps towards recovery is important and AspenRidge is dedicated to guiding clients and their family through the process towards recovery.