Opioid Addiction: When and How to Seek Treatment


(DGIwire) — America currently faces a daunting epidemic of opioid addiction. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), opioids are medications that reduce the intensity of pain signals and affect those brain areas controlling emotion, which diminishes the effects of a painful stimulus. Medications that fall within this class, NIDA reports, include hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine, codeine and related drugs. 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.

Perhaps one reason the current opioid addiction epidemic is receiving so much media attention is that it has transcended social class to become a problem facing the poor, middle class and rich. Because the problem is so widespread, it’s possible that someone you know could be fighting against an addiction.

Concerned people need to look out for the warning signs. The most common signs that a person has become addicted to prescription painkillers were laid out in a September 2015 article in U.S. News & World Report. Since your friend or loved one may not know they have a problem, or might be afraid to seek help for their problem, you should know the available options once you observe these behaviors:

  • Do they seem sleepy or difficult to arouse from sleep at odd hours during the day?
  • Do they seem unusually withdrawn, when they would normally be happy and outgoing?
  • Do they look sick—nauseated, sweating a lot—only to seem fine a short time later?

Addiction to opioids needs to be treated both medically and behaviorally, according to U.S. News. Whereas treatment might once have only addressed the medical issues, or the behavioral ones, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration now says that for best results, both should be treated simultaneously. This means combining therapies, assisted by appropriate medicine as well as support groups or one-on-one counseling, U.S. News reports.

When you are looking for treatment for a loved one, you should keep some things in mind, according to U.S. News. If you are choosing a treatment center, make sure to look for licensing. Common licensing agencies are the American Society of Addiction Medicine or the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Seeing certifications from those organizations means the clinic has specialization in addiction issues. Next, decide if inpatient or outpatient treatment is preferred. Inpatient programs provide more frequent access to clinicians and stable environments, but wait times can be long and treatment costs substantially higher. Outpatient treatment by comparison will be cheaper, but require more coordination—traveling for medical procedures, doctor’s visits and counseling meetings can add complexity to recovery.

For those battling addiction, a consistent support system is needed to combat relapse. BioDelivery Sciences has developed an important treatment and also a resource, called InReach™, which includes a website (inreachassist.com) and app (initially available for the iPhone here). InReach, which went online in December 2014, offers a comprehensive array of information and resources to support patients and their families.* It helps identify personal goals and progress; track moods, triggers and medication; record appointments; and create boards of messages and photos to help keep users positive throughout the recovery process. InReach is not a substitute for a voluntary rehabilitation program.

*InReach is not intended to substitute professional medical advice or to be used as a diagnostic or treatment tool.  For more information go to:  www.BDSI.com or www.inreachassist.com