An opioid is one of the most addictive drugs that has resulted in a national crisis in many countries. In the United States alone, the number of deaths due to opioids is four times more in 2014 as compared to 1999. A factor that people fail to consider when analyzing any opioid addiction is its withdrawal symptoms that can be a hindrance in a person’s way of getting sober.
Many people can get confused between the concept of Opiates and Opioids. Opiates are substances with the active ingredient from opium. It includes morphine, codeine, and more that are made from the opium in poppy plants. Opioids, on the other hand, are synthetically manufactured to mimic the natural effects of opium.
While not all opioid addicts show the same behavior, some possible signs can distinguish if a person has an addiction. People with addiction generally tend to spend time alone, loose interest in activities, become nervous, change moods, sleep at weird hours, ignore basic hygiene, get overly energetic, and more. Many people have also become victims of Opioid overdose. The possible signs associated with an overdose are unconsciousness, extreme
sleepiness, vomiting, constricted pupils, nausea, confusion, clammy and blue skin, loss of consciousness, and more.
Ways to Overcome an Addiction to Opioids
Healthcare professionals can prescribe medicines based on the severity of the person who is addicted. These medications can help an opioid addict eliminate possible withdrawal and prevent any relapse in the future. While there are short term medicines to treat people who have overdosed, there are many others that can help a person in the long run by making them slowly change their psychological and social dependence on the drug. The three most common medications prescribed to an opioid addict are Methadone, Naltrexone, and Buprenorphine.
- Individual Psychotherapy
Psychologists can play a crucial role in assisting the people addicted to Opioids. With a professional background and training, they can help to overcome the addiction for the long term. Some key ways in which a psychologist can help are :
- Treating other disorders: Many disorders such as anxiety, depression, or PTSD can encourage a person to indulge in opioids. Psychologists are trained professionals who can help the patient manage any disorder from its root.
- Managing Pain: Psychologists help manage any physical or emotional pain that can push people towards taking opioids. They have strategies to help moderate the pain so that the patient does not depend on an addictive drug for relief.
- Addressing Drug Use: Many drug addicts are generally in denial of their addiction, so they continue misusing them. Psychologists can help people develop skills in admitting to their addiction to live a healthier life.
- Inpatient or Residential Treatments
Inpatient treatments are recommended to people based on the intensity of their addiction. While some residential treatments are short term, others can last a long time. The brief inpatient hospital-based treatment can help the addict go through the detoxification process, whereas the more extended treatment generally is composed of more detailed and comprehensive programs. It also includes counseling to help the person through the withdrawal or to prevent any form of relapse.
While this step can be helpful in many other forms of addiction, it has proven to be highly applicable to overcome opioids. A recent study has shown that people taking part in an eight- week course of mindfulness techniques tend to loosen up their grip on addiction compared to those who take medication to treat themselves. The people engaged in learning such techniques experienced a sense of renewal or pleasure from people and their surroundings that is generally lost when addicted to opioids. These techniques can also help the person reverse the addiction, hence saving them from a lifetime dependence on medicines.
- Group Therapy
Group therapy can sometimes be the most crucial step in helping a person cope and overcome opioid addiction or relapse. As a person seeks help from a counselor, they generally tend to feel empowered when a group of people with similar problems show a group effort. These therapy sessions are moderated by experienced and highly trained professionals or psychologists who use multiple evidence-based strategies to help them properly leave behind their dependence on drugs. Group therapies can be done with a group of unknown people so that they don’t feel judged. It can also be done with their family members to get them trained so that they can also help the person who is trying to overcome an addiction.
- Psychological treatment options:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
This treatment/therapy tends to focus on ways by which a patient can change their lifestyle to make better choices. It teaches the person to learn and manage negative thoughts or behaviors that can trigger their drug use. Patients can learn to identify negative feelings, get rid of unhelpful behaviors, and interact with people to get rid of any thoughts that can contribute towards their heavy use.
- Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)
In this form of treatment, the patient is taught to learn the principles of mindfulness. They also learn to tune their thoughts, feelings, and practices to live in the moment. The main goal of this therapy is to make people aware of the many unconscious thoughts and behaviors that can affect their emotional and physical health.
- Motivational Interviewing
This form of therapy done by a psychologist uses many non-judgmental ways to interview patients and make them feel comfortable enough to accept their addiction. If a patient admits to their addiction, the psychologists help them adapt to multiple alternative behaviors to inspire a change within them.
While there are myriad ways to overcome an addiction, it is impossible to do so without the support of family and friends. The patient’s near and dear ones also need to educate themselves about the addiction to help them cope with this change. Although it can be difficult for the addict to get rid of something they so highly depend on, it is generally the best step to lead a healthier and quality life.