The Trump administration declared the opioid epidemic a national public health emergency in 2017, but this issue is still widely misunderstood. Unlike other forms of substance abuse, opioid addiction often begins when someone is prescribed painkillers for a legitimate medical purpose. Without sufficient oversight from a healthcare provider, it’s easy for people searching for pain relief to find that their substance use has spiraled out of control.
This article provides a brief overview of opioid addiction and its treatment options.
If you would like to learn more about seeking help for yourself or a loved one, contact Safe Harbor Recovery in Portsmouth, Virginia, today.
Opioids are a class of substances that work by binding to the opioid receptors in the brain. They are powerful pain relievers used to treat cancer-related pain as well as inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, migraines, scoliosis, fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, and other serious conditions causing pain. Patients may also be prescription opioids for short-term use after surgery or acute injury.
Brand names of common prescription opioids include OxyContin, Vicodin, Percocet. The illegal street drug heroin is also classified as an opioid. However, most people who are addicted to opioids begin by abusing prescription painkillers. They turn to heroin only after getting high doses of prescription pills becomes difficult or cost-prohibitive.
Signs of Opioid Addiction
Signs that your use of opioids may be reaching the level of an addiction include:
- Taking pills as a preventative measure because you think you “need” them to get through the day
- Worrying about having access to a steady supply of opioids
- Increasing your dosage without talking to your doctor
- Trying to cut back on your usage without success
- Inventing or exaggerating symptoms to get a refill on an existing prescription
- Doctor shopping to increase your supply of prescription drugs
- Buying pills illegally
- Ignoring suggestions about how to manage your pain without opioids
- Lying about your pill usage or becoming defensive when confronted about your behavior
- Mixing prescription with alcohol or other drugs to achieve a stronger high
- Moving from prescription painkillers to heroin in search of a stronger, cheaper high
Although it’s possible to experience withdrawal symptoms and not be addicted, these symptoms can be considered a sign of a potential substance abuse problem. Symptoms of opioid withdrawal include:
- Vomiting or nausea
Naloxone’s Role in Fighting the Opioid Epidemic
Naloxone, often sold under the brand names Narcan and Evzio, is a medication that can block or reverse the effects of opioid use. It prevents users from experiencing the respiratory failure associated with a fatal overdose.
Expanding access to naloxone for first responders, doctors, opioid users, and their loved ones is often touted as a key part of fighting the opioid epidemic. However, it’s important to keep in mind that this medication does not treat or cure addiction. All it does is stop the effects of opioid use long enough for a person to seek additional care at a local emergency room.
Naloxone saves lives, but it’s only a temporary fix. Treatment that addresses the root causes of the addiction is needed to prevent the possibility of future overdose.
Treatment for Opioid Addiction
Don’t make the mistake of believing that you must hit rock bottom for treatment to be effective. The longer you wait to seek help, the more challenges you’ll face as you work towards recovery.
Opioid addiction treatment typically begins with a medically-managed detox to rid the body of the abused substance. Detox involves 24/7 supervision to monitor vital signs and take supportive measures to ensure your comfort and safety throughout the process.
Following detox, opioid addiction treatment includes cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) delivered in group and individual settings to help individuals learn to manage cravings, identity triggers, and proactively work to avoid relapse. Holistic support services, such as yoga, massage, and acupuncture, can often be used as a way to manage chronic pain.
Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) may also be recommended. Methadone, naltrexone, and buprenorphine are the three medications most common used to treat opioid addiction. Usage is highly monitored and clients must continue with their other therapy for the duration of treatment.
Safe Harbor Recovery in Portsmouth, Virginia, provides residential treatment for men and women. Our drug addiction treatment program begins with a comprehensive individual assessment to help the treatment team identify a client’s strengths, needs, abilities, and preferences. The client’s medical history, past treatment experiences, level of family support, and past trauma exposure are also considered in developing a personalized care plan.
Using FMLA Leave for Addiction Treatment
Often, people who become addicted to prescription opioids initially wanted a way to manage their pain so they could continue working. When their usage turns into an addiction, they’re worried about how to get time off work for the necessary treatment without jeopardizing their job security.
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave with your health insurance and other employee benefits remaining intact if you meet the following requirements:
- An employee must have been employed with a company for 12 months.
- An employee must have worked at least 1,250 hours in the last 12 months.
- The employer must employ 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius of the worksite.
FMLA leave is unpaid, but employers often allow workers to use their paid time off and vacation time to cover a portion of their lost wages. You should contact the human resources department at your employer to learn more about policies regarding FMLA leave.
Using Insurance to Pay for Rehab
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, often shortened to the Affordable Care Act or referred to simply as Obamacare, requires health insurance plans to cover a range of mental health care services. In the majority of cases, this includes treatment programs for opioid addiction and other forms of substance abuse. The Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) mandates that most insurance plans covering substance abuse treatment provide benefits that are comparable to what is offered for other forms of medical care.
Safe Harbor Recovery in Portsmouth, Virginia, understands that financial concerns can complicate an individual’s desire to seek treatment. We accept most major insurance plans and offer a convenient online insurance verification form to help you learn more about your coverage. Information about private pay options and other available financial assistance is available upon request.