The Disease of Addiction

Opioid Dependence/Addiction

Opioid Addiction is a common and real medical condition affecting people from all walks of life. Opioid abuse, drug abuse, drug dependence, and drug addiction are often used interchangeably, however, experts define them as follows:

Drug abuse, including opioid abuse, is the deliberate use of a medicine beyond a doctor’s prescription. In the case of opiates, the intention is generally to get high or to relieve anxiety.

Dependence occurs when the body develops tolerance to the drug, meaning higher doses are needed for the same effect. In addition, stopping the drug produces drug withdrawal symptoms.

Drug addiction occurs when the person has drug dependence, but also displays psychological effects. These include compulsive behavior to get the drug; craving for the drug; and continued use despite negative consequences, like legal or financial problems.

What Are Opioids?

Opioids are medications that relieve pain. They reduce the intensity of pain signals reaching the brain and affect those brain areas controlling emotion, which diminishes the effects of a painful stimulus. Medications that fall within this class include:

  • Hydrocodone (Vicodin),
  • Oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet),
  • Morphine (Kadian, Avinza),
  • Codeine and related drugs.
  • Heroin.
  • Fentanyl.

Hydrocodone products are the most commonly prescribed for a variety of painful conditions, including dental and injury-related pain. Morphine is often used before and after surgical procedures to alleviate severe pain. Codeine, on the other hand, is often prescribed for mild pain. In addition to their pain relieving properties, some of these drugs—codeine and diphenoxylate (Lomotil) for example—can be used to relieve coughs and severe diarrhea. Heroin is also an opioid.” Defined by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Symptoms of Narcotic Abuse

  • Feeling no pain
  • Sedation
  • Euphoria (feeling high)
  • Respiratory depression (shallow or slow breathing)
  • Small pupils
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Itching or flushed skin
  • Constipation
  • Slurred speech
  • Confusion or poor judgment

Symptoms of Opioid Drug Withdrawal

If a person uses opioids for a long time, they develop physical dependence and tolerance. Usually, opioid abusers will then take more of the drug, to continue to get high. If a person stops using opioids after they become physically dependent on the drug, they will experience drug withdrawal symptoms.

Symptoms of Drug Withdrawal From Opioids Include:
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Craving for the drug
  • Rapid breathing
  • Yawning
  • Runny nose
  • Salivation
  • Gooseflesh
  • Nasal stuffiness
  • Muscle aches
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Sweating
  • Confusion
  • Enlarged pupils
  • Tremors
  • Loss of appetite

A Targeted Treatment Plan™

Research finds that successful treatment for opioid dependence requires a combination of Suboxone® medication management along with intensive outpatient individual, group, family counseling and education maximizes the probability of long-term abstinence.

1. Certified Physician Managed Medication Treatment: Buprenorphine (ex. Suboxone®) is one medication option approved for opioid dependence. With the correct dose, the medication suppresses cravings for opioids and withdrawal symptoms.

2. Individual and Group Counseling Sessions tackle a variety of addiction issues and provide individual and peer feedback and support. Active participation in as 12-Step Program helps to further strengthen the treatment and recovery plan.

3. Comprehensive Mental Health Services focus on past and present life issues, experiences and behavior (abuse, depression, finances, etc) that may have led to addiction. Psychiatry and medical management services also available.

What is Suboxone?

Suboxone is a medication approved for the treating opioid dependence. With the correct dose, Suboxone® suppresses cravings for opioids and withdrawal symptoms. The medication consists of a combination of two drugs that eliminates the euphoric high from opioids. The medication also has two methods which protect against abuse of the medication. Buprenorphine is the active ingredient in Suboxone®. It binds to opioid receptors in the brain. Buprenorphine attaches to the opioid receptors, activating them just enough to suppress withdrawal and cravings, but not enough to cause extreme euphoria. Even when all available receptors are occupied with buprenorphine, the total opioid effect is relatively low. Therefore, even if the patient decides to misuse opioid drugs after taking buprenorphine, the effects can be blocked, depending on the dosage. The ceiling effect and the blocking ability give buprenorphine a favorable safety profile and help lower the risk of overdose and misuse.