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How Rehab Centers Treat Opiate Addiction

methods of treatment for addiction to opiates

Methadone is one of the medication replacement therapies used in rehab centers for opiates.

Opiate addictions have seemingly taken the United States by storm, with an estimated two million Americans reportedly abusing opiates in 2009, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information. The common practice of prescribing opiates to treat pain-related conditions has left those most vulnerable to addiction to fend for themselves. Recreational users also soon discover how powerfully addictive these drugs can be.

Opiate addiction treatment works to address the specific effects of opiate drugs on the mind and body. While some people may be able to go “cold turkey,” once addiction sets in the need for opiate rehab help becomes a necessity for many.

Opiate rehab programs use various medication therapies combined with psychosocial treatments throughout the course of opiate addiction treatment.

Opiate Addiction Treatment

An opiate addiction can develop in as short as three weeks time depending on the type of drug a person uses. Opiates, such as heroin, Demerol and Vicodin can quickly cause physical dependency to develop when taken on a frequent basis.

Both physical and psychological dependency issues drive opiate addiction behaviors. As most every opiate produces the same debilitating effects on brain and body functions, opiate rehab programs can use standard treatment approaches for countering addiction’s effects.

Opiate addiction treatment first addresses a person’s physical dependency through detox care. From that point, opiate rehab programs help recovering addicts work through the mind’s psychological dependence on opiate effects.

Medication Replacement Therapies

Medication replacement therapies help to buffer the uncomfortable effects of opiate withdrawal, especially for people coming off long-term addictions, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. These medications, also known as agonists, are synthetic opiate drugs designed to produce similar effects as those of opiate drugs of abuse.

Replacement medications commonly used in opiate addiction treatment include:

  • Subutex
  • Suboxone
  • Methadone
  • LAMM

While these medications do produce similar effects as other opiate drugs, they don’t produce the “high” experience commonly associated with addictive drugs. The medication replacement therapies used in opiate rehab allow recovering addicts to abstain from abusive opiate use without suffering the distressing effects of withdrawal and cravings in the process.

Medication Blocking Agents

Unlike opiate replacement medications, blocking agents rather prevent addictive opiates from interacting with cell receptor sites in the brain and body. Blocking agents used for opiate addiction treatment include:

  • Nalorphine
  • Naloxone

As opiate rehab programs often work with people battling chronic opiate addictions, medications that have a combined buffer-blocking effect may be used instead. These medications include:

  • Levallorphan
  • Naltrexone

Blocking agents, in general, prevent recovering addicts from getting “high” in the event a relapse episode occurs.

Psychosocial Treatment Approaches

According to the National Institutes of Health, opiate rehab programs rely heavily on psychosocial treatment approaches as part of the opiate addiction treatment process. Psychosocial treatments help addicts work through the thinking and behavior patterns that develop out of long-term opiate abuse.

Psychosocial treatment approaches used include:

  • 12-Step support group work
  • Family therapy
  • Individual psychotherapy
  • Group therapy

Helping recovering addicts understand how opiates affect their thinking and behavior is also a big part of the opiate addiction treatment process.

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