All posts tagged Opioid Addiction

Opioid Addiction: Why Do Users Have Cravings?

Addictions to anything-drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling-are quite serious. Every addiction has its own craving. 

When it comes to opioid users, their cravings are massive and control their lives. In order to understand what opioid users go through, we must first define a “craving.” 

According to Frontiers in Psychiatry, a craving:

“ is an overwhelmingly strong desire or need to use a drug, is a central component of OUD and other substance use disorders.” 

Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) is sweeping the country. Whether the opioid is used for treatment or as an illicit drug, the craving for it is overpowering. The opioid user has a focused compulsion to use the drug as the euphoria and emotional response that it gives is motivational to continue the opioid addiction. This craving is long-lasting and cannot be filled unless the opioid is used. (Craving is included in the definition of opioid dependence in the International Classification of Diseases, Eleventh Revision.)  

Addiction is, however, a chronic relapse based on the brain. There are many theories as to why someone would risk their health, reputation, occupation, and family to use opioids. One theory, known as “Opponent Theory,” proposes that the opioid user’s euphoria masks the pleasant or unpleasant sensations. Thus, they have the moment of enjoyment then come down, only to feel bad later. A short time later, the craving hits again, and the opioid addict returns to the drug.        

Does this really explain the intense cravings experienced by opioid users? Do cravings ever go away?

Even in recovery, cravings may not disappear completely. But to say they “never go away” is both inaccurate and discouraging. An opioid user need not believe cravings will dominate their life forever. 

Coping techniques, medications, and other forms of ongoing treatment can be of great help to the person in recovery. Recovery may follow them through life, but they also should know that cravings may fade with time. 

What is needed to help break the addiction is the commitment of the opioid user in recovery to remain in treatment and learn coping mechanisms. As recovery moves into six months and beyond, cravings are less powerful. Opioid users even begin to master the craving control techniques they have learned in recovery. 

Sobriety is the goal, and that comes with complete abstinence to the drug. Typically, this comes after six weeks in rehabilitation. There is no clear “rehabilitated” moment for every user. It is different for everyone. 

It’s realistic, even after years of being sober, that former opioid users will have cravings from time to time. They may even be tempted to visit the places where they purchased the drug and used it. This is very normal and is reported by many former opioid users long after recovery and rehab. 

However, these cravings are less of a desire to do the drug again and more of an annoyance. The psychological triggers to use opioids have passed, and now they can use the coping mechanisms they learned in treatment. 

The bottom line is this: Opioid cravings are not something that “enslave” a person all their lives. Treatment, medications, behavioral therapy, and a healthy support system of family and friends can help a person overcome and even end opioid use for a lifetime.  

If you have cravings for opioids, consult an expert. The Concerted Care Group of Central Baltimore, MD, and Brooklyn, MD, has a compassionate Behavioral Health team which includes therapists, a psychiatric nurse practitioner, a nurse practitioner, and a psychiatrist. Services include individual and family therapy for adults and adolescents. Group therapy and psychiatric services are available for adults.

Contact us at (833) CCG-LIVE to make an appointment. 

For more information on opioid cravings, see this link.  

Opioid Addiction Treatment: Methadone vs. Buprenorphine

Opioid addiction is increasing as millions of American citizens are using it to alleviate pain. According to US drug overdose statistics

The death rate from drug overdoses more than tripled between 1999 and 2017, and that death rate from opioid overdoses increased almost six-fold during the same period. More people in the United States died from overdoses involving opioids in 2017 than from HIV- or AIDS-related illnesses at the peak of the AIDS epidemic.

As a result, new treatments for treating opioid addiction have been developed to help opioid addicts. Two of the most common drugs used are Methadone and Buprenorphine. There are two separate camps that believe that one is better than the other. We will examine both.

Methadone Treatment 

One of the main goals in treating opioid addiction is reducing the craving for it. Methadone is a proven and effective synthetic opioid that reduces the craving. It has a long history of effectiveness as it was developed by German physicians during World War II and later used by US physicians to treat extreme pain. (Addiction was accurately portrayed by Frank Sinatra in the film, “The Man with the Golden Arm”. It is heralded as educating the public on the dangers of heroin.) 

Methadone can be distributed as a liquid, powder, or tablet. It requires a prescription and must be monitored closely by a doctor. Methadone changes the way the brain and nervous system respond to pain. For pain, physicians typically prescribe methadone following surgery or in treatment from an injury or a chronic illness. 

Additionally, methadone treatment is helpful in eliminating addiction to other opioids. Known as “replacement therapy”, this treatment replaces the opioids in your system with somewhat milder effects. Relief comes slowly as it blocks the high that comes from drugs like oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine, heroin, and codeine.  

Methadone treatment is most effective when supplemented with individual or group counseling. Opioid addicts are referred to drug counselors, social services, or medical personnel trained in opioid addiction counseling. Many companies offer these services under their medical benefits packages.   

Buprenorphine Treatment

Buprenorphine is an opioid medication that is also used to treat opioid addiction. It is dispensed in a physician’s office. It can also be taken at home as a prescription. 

Buprenorphine is known as “partial opioid antagonist,” meaning it may decrease physical dependence on opioids. Buprenorphine’s potential for misuse is lower than that of full opioids, and it also can reduce the craving for them. 

Buprenorphine is still an opioid, however, so its side effects can be problematic. It is known to cause euphoria and respiratory depression in some patients. In low doses, buprenorphine can produce a basic agonist effect to reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms. It can, however, reach a “ceiling effect” when increasing doses of the drug begin to reach a plateau. At this point, buprenorphine may no longer be effective for the individual. 

 Conclusion

Both methadone and buprenorphine have been proven to be effective treatment options for opioid addiction. Methadone, however, may be the most effective for long-term treatment. 

If you or a loved one are battling opioid addiction, consult a physician immediately. They can recommend licensed drug addiction treatment centers suited to your needs. Opioid addiction cannot be treated alone. A team of medical personnel and addiction specialists are needed to help the addicted individual overcome this painful situation.

Concerted Care of Central Baltimore and Brooklyn, MD, Methadone Maintenance Treatment (MMT) utilizes methadone as one element in a comprehensive treatment program in which methadone replaces opiate drugs, including heroin and oxycodone. Call (833) 224-5483 or email info@concertedcaregroup.com for an immediate consultation.

Opioid Addiction: Ten Red Flags that Someone Has It

Have you seen some strange behavior recently?

Have you wondered if they are addicted to some substance?

These are serious questions to ask yourself if you believe that your loved one, friend, classmate, co-worker, spouse or neighbor may have an opioid addiction.

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Find Opioid Addiction Treatment: Ms. Edith Ogunsanya, Nurse Practitioner

Edith is a nurse practitioner, in her first year at Concerted Care Group, Baltimore. She provides addiction assessments and addiction treatments. Her main focus is on opioids.

She became a nurse practitioner in drug treatment and counseling because she wants to help people. Based on studies, she believes opioid addiction to be a brain disease. So, with intense treatment, guidance and counseling, she sees her clients succeed in treatment.

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