For an individual ready to combat his or her reliance on opiates, the process of addressing the severe physical addiction is often the first step. Opiates—often referred to as narcotics—are a class of drug that ranges from prescription painkillers such as oxycodone and morphine, to street heroin. In the majority of cases, doctors initially prescribe opioids as a form of pain management but they are dangerously addictive and prone to extreme misuse. In addition to numbing pain, they can also alter one’s mental state to levels of euphoria. Oftentimes the endless chase for maintaining this high is what leads to crippling dependence. And when a person in this condition can no longer acquire these drugs at a prescription level, either because of doctor restrictions or financial constraints, they may ultimately resort to abusing its lowest common denominator formula, illegal heroin. With recording breaking overdose death rates over the last decade and Americans accounting for the vast majority of the hundreds of millions of opiate prescriptions dispensed each year, what’s been dubbed this nation’s “opioid epidemic” can certainly attest to the severity of this issue.
Often the body’s dependence on this type of drug is so severe, that the withdrawal symptoms are unbearable. Thankfully, modern medicine has made detox much more tolerable. However, the way in which a doctor designs a detox regimen is entirely dependent on each client’s current physical and mental state; the facts surrounding their past attempts to quit the drug; and their unique medical, mental and environmental history. As such, there are several different approaches to opiate detox. Tactics can include easing each symptom separately, whether it’s inability to sleep, abdominal discomfort or sore muscles, or utilizing Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT). MAT often involves the administering of buprenorphine, most commonly recognized as the FDA-approved drug, Suboxone. Buprenorphine is considered an “opioid partial agonist.” In layman’s terms, that means it evokes the same type of effects as opioid-based drugs, such as feeling of euphoria, but to a much lesser degree. The effects gradually become more palpable with each dosage but ultimately level off, in hopes of stabilizing the client and reducing the chance of continued abuse and dependence.
While MAT is often implemented during opiate detox and the initial stages of one’s overall treatment, most addiction specialists agree, these medications are not ideal long-term solutions. Again, its effectiveness really depends on the person. Yes, there are cases when an individual’s receptors have been so damaged by opiate abuse that they’re permanently dismantled in a way that could require life long withdrawal management. Others may have developed a physical dependence but not one so severe that it warrants a lifetime of MAT-type drugs, but rather a tapered, systematic usage carefully monitored by a physician well versed in addiction medicine. And there are other circumstances under which someone’s addiction has not even progressed enough to justify the usage of Suboxone and the like, and therefore just easing the pain of withdrawal with holistic remedies and symptom management are all that’s necessary.
Of course, in any case, it’s important that clients realize detox is just one part of the entire treatment plan. Taking care of the physical addiction is akin to repairing or updating the hardware of a computer. Once complete, the software must also be updated and repaired, and that’s when the mental health aspect of treatment comes into play. So in a sense detox is preparing the person to be in the best physical state possible before beginning the “real work,” so to speak—addressing and healing the root causes of addiction, undergoing in-depth behavioral therapy and acquiring the essential tools to restart one’s life. One of the primary goals of opiate detox is making the person feel as good as possible, and therefore in the best condition to tackle the emotional work of early recovery.
Medically Supervised Detox
At Recovery Malibu, clients can expect a comfortable, medically monitored and individualized detox experience. A qualified staff ensures each person has anything he or she might need in order to effectively set the stage for overhauling their health and their life. The wreckage left in the wake of opiate addiction can be devastating but with effective care in a safe, supportive setting, recovery and renewal are possible.