Opioid addiction is a complex disease. Opioids are among the most addictive substances known to science and some studies place the rate of relapse as high as 90%. As a society, our attitudes towards drug addiction have changed dramatically over the last few decades and we now have a far better understanding of treating addiction as a disease.
There are a number of different treatment options available and it can be hard knowing which one is best for you or your loved one. The best course of action will depend on the individual and their circumstances. There is no catch-all treatment that will work for everyone and pairing an addict with the wrong form of treatment can end up being counterproductive.
Below is a quick guide to the main treatment options available.
This is known as opioid maintenance therapy. It is a treatment option that prioritizes helping the patient achieve some stability in their life over removing drugs from their lives. The drugs used in opioid maintenance therapy are typically buprenorphine and methadone. Both of these drugs are opioids, just like heroin, oxycodone, etc., but they do not produce the same pleasurable effects that most opioid drugs do. Because of this and because they block the effects of other opioids, they can be used as a substitute for the opioids that the patient was addicted to.
Maintenance therapy has been shown to be incredibly effective, as it allows the patient to focus on other areas of their life which are often impaired by the effects of addiction, in particular, their professional and social lives. Once the patient has stabilized their life and the dose of their maintenance drug, they can then begin to gradually reduce the dose and ultimately wean themselves off completely.
Some health insurance providers, such as United Healthcare coverage, make provisions for addiction. Check with your provider to see what treatments they will cover.
Psychological therapies for drug addiction come in a number of different forms and both individual and group therapy options exist. Psychological treatments require much more personalization than maintenance therapy and many patients find counseling and similar therapies harder to engage with.
Addiction consists of both a physical and psychological component and it is the psychological component that is the hardest to dislodge. When addicts try to tackle this aspect of addiction on their own, they are setting themselves up for failure and relapse. It is therefore important that patients are encouraged to take advantage of the available therapies.
Ibogaine treatment is still somewhat controversial and should only be considered as an option of last resort. Ibogaine is a powerful psychedelic which, through mechanisms which we still do not really understand, is able to help people to walk away from opioids while experiencing minimal withdrawal symptoms. Ibogaine is not FDA approved and it is something you would undertake entirely at your own risk, so be sure to research it thoroughly beforehand. Safety first!
Opioid addiction is notoriously hard to beat but it is possible. If you or a loved one is in the grip of such an addiction then consult with your doctor and healthcare provider about available treatments.