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Opioids are a type of drug used to alleviate moderate to moderately severe pain.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH), “Opioids are a class of drugs that include the illegal drug heroin, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, and pain relievers available legally by prescription, such as oxycodone (OxyContin®), hydrocodone (Vicodin®), codeine, morphine, and many others.” When opioids are ingested, they work by attaching to opioid receptors, which are in one’s brain, spinal cord, gastrointestinal tract, and other organs in one’s body. Opioids adjust the amount of information surrounding pain that is relayed to various areas of one’s body, by reducing one’s perception of pain.

Addiction, also known as substance use disorder (SUD), is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), as a chronic mental health disorder. It is characterized by compulsively engaging in rewarding stimuli regardless of the negative ensuing consequences. An individual that struggles with opioid addiction will prioritize satisfying his or her craving above all else. Addiction affects all areas of one’s life, and if left untreated it can lead to strained relationships, financial hardship, employment challenges, legal complications, as well as emotional, physical, and psychological consequences.

Treatment Options: MAT

There are a variety of opioid rehab and treatment options available to those in need. It is highly common for individuals struggling with opioid addiction to have the most success by attending a rehab program that offers medication-assisted treatment. Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is the use of medication in conjunction with various behavioral therapies to make up a treatment plan for substance use disorder. The three most relied upon FDA approved medications used to treat opioid addiction include:

  • Suboxone: a medication that is made up of buprenorphine and naloxone. It is mostly used to assist in treating opioid withdrawal. As a partial agonist, buprenorphine only allows this medication to partially bind to one’s opioid receptors. Naloxone works by counteracting the effects of opioids on one’s brain. Therefore, an individual who attempts to abuse opioids, while taking Suboxone will experience adverse effects due to the naloxone.
  • Vivitrol: a medication that must be administered by a medical professional, as it comes in the form of an injection. It is an antagonist medication that provides relief for opioid cravings, minimizes withdrawal symptoms, and prevents overdose. In most cases, any individual that uses Vivitrol as part of their MAT must abstain from any opiate use for a minimum of fourteen days, prior to the first dose.
  • Methadone: is probably the most known medication used for the treatment of opioid addiction. It is a full agonist, meaning it fully binds to the opioid receptors in one’s brain and nervous system. This results in a complete block of the euphoric high that occurs from opioid drug use, as well as easing the discomforts of withdrawal symptoms. It is highly regulated, as it can be dangerous if abused.

When used properly and under the direct supervision of a qualified medical professional, medications can greatly ease withdrawal symptoms associated with opioid abuse. The duration an individual may remain on medication, the dose, as well as the type of medication selected will vary. One’s recovery and rehabilitation process may include an ongoing medication regimen for sustained recovery. 

Further Information and Support

Navigating the challenges that arise from living with mental illness, struggling with substance abuse, and/ or addiction can not only be all-consuming but are often impossible to effectively handle without proper support. If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one regarding mental illness, substance abuse, and/ or addiction we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. Bear in mind that you do not have to be on this journey alone. At {Upwell Advisors}, we offer unique, customized concierge therapeutic services to provide our clients with unparalleled support throughout every step of the recovery process. 

Feel free to reach to contact us anytime via email at sean@upwelladvisors.com. We look forward to supporting you on your journey.

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