The opiate alkaloids are a handful of similar substances that can be directly harvested from the botanical products of the opium poppy. Morphine, codeine, and thebaine are examples of these kinds of drugs. Opiates and many of the drugs derived from them (e.g., heroin, hydrocodone, oxycodone) are federally controlled substances due to their high potential for abuse and addiction. An addicted user may sacrifice important aspects of their life in order to continue using opiates. Opiate addiction has some key aspects that must be considered:
- Options for opiate treatment.
- Medication assistance.
- What is the price of treatment?
- Financing your recovery.
- Symptoms of opiate addiction.
- Causes of opiate addiction.
- Long-term consequences.
- How to get started in recovery today.
Opiate Addiction Recovery Programs
If you are suffering from one or multiple addictions, treatment options are widely available.
Opiates are used to treat acute pain but many people use them without medical recommendation or supervision due to their euphoric effects. Using opiates in this manner is considered abuse.
Opiate drugs directly interact with opioid receptors in the brain and body, which is how they produce their effects. The effects that opiates produce include extreme drowsiness, a pleasurable feeling, and dampened sensation of pain 2. Repeated abuse of opiates can eventually give rise to powerful cravings, which can undermine attempts to quit.
Opiate addiction can have a powerful negative effect on an individual’s life, but there is hope in recovery treatment. Professional programs can offer people struggling with opiate addiction the help they need to get clean and resist relapse temptations. While recovering from opiate addiction is not life-threatening, a formal program can provide invaluable recovery assistance, such as:
- Medications to ease the recovery process.
- Therapy in a group and individual setting.
- 24-hour sobriety support and crisis counseling.
- Medical and psychological care.
- Relapse prevention skill development.
Recovery treatment options are as diverse as the individuals seeking help, and no single program will work for everyone. Some programs even specialize in certain sub-populations to ensure comfort among peers for their guests. Gender-specific, age-specific, veteran-only, and LGBTQ-only programs are just a couple examples of the peer specialization offered in programs around the country.
There are many different treatment program options, including:
- 12-step programs offer a free approach to recovery that focuses on support and encouragement from recovering peers.
- Outpatient treatment programs allow patients to live at home while attending regular treatment sessions.
- Inpatient treatment programs involve stays at a facility with 24-hour supervision and access to medical and mental health services, when necessary.
- Luxury treatment programs are inpatient programs with a focus on comfort and added amenities.
- Executive treatment programs are similar to luxury treatment, but they also allow clients to work while engaging in treatment.
- Holistic treatment programs combine traditional approaches, such as psychotherapy, with alternative and complementary methods, such as acupuncture, meditation, yoga, nutrition counseling, creative arts therapy, and equine therapy.
Medication for Opiate Addiction
Many recovering opiate addicts face cravings to use again. Formal treatment programs can prescribe medications to help ease these cravings and reduce the risk of relapse. The following medications may be prescribed while in treatment:
- Methadone: A slow-acting, opioid substance that reduces cravings without delivering an intensely reinforcing opioid high.
- Buprenorphine: A partial opioid receptor agonist medication with a ceiling to its opioid effects—results in a less dangerous side effect profile and a less pronounced high than the abused drugs.
- Naltrexone: A medication that blocks opioid receptors and prevents the user from experiencing a high.
- Suboxone: A combination medication containing buprenorphine and naloxone to prevent medication abuse.
Price of Addiction Treatment
Treatment costs for opiate addiction can vary depending on the type of program selected (inpatient generally costs more than outpatient), location of the program (urban programs generally cost more than rural ones), the length of time a person engages (longer programs cost more), the kinds of amenities offered (luxury and executive programs cost more than standard inpatient programs), and the extent of insurance coverage.
If you have insurance, call your insurance company to learn more about your individual plan.
Financing Your Recovery
If a person recovering from opiate addiction does not have insurance, there are multiple financing options:
- Personal loans, which allow a patient to pay the full cost upfront, then pay back the loan over time.
- Payment plans, which are worked out with the facility so the patient can spread the full cost of treatment over more manageable monthly installments.
- Credit cards, which allow the patient to pay all or most of the cost up front then pay off the card over time.
- Sliding scale, which is when a program adjusts their treatment costs depending on the individual’s ability to pay.
- Rehab scholarships from each individual facility. These are typically quite limited in number.
- Grants offered by The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to help individuals cover the cost of treatment.
- Crowdfunding using websites like GoFundMe or IndieGoGo can allow other people to donate to an individual’s recovery fund.
- Asking loved ones and friends for financial help to escape the grip of opiate addiction.
Treatment costs can seem intimidating, but the most important thing is your health, safety, and sobriety.
Signs and Symptoms of Opiate Addiction
The signs and symptoms of opiate addiction are diverse, and they include behavioral, psychological and physical changes in the user. The specific symptoms present may vary by person but have an undeniably negative impact on the addicted individual’s life and wellbeing.
Some behavioral signs of opiate abuse 4:
- Taking higher or more frequent doses than intended or prescribed.
- Spending a lot of time trying to get, use, or recover from opiates.
- Experiencing interpersonal problems related to opiate abuse.
- Experiencing issues at work, school, or home related to opiate abuse.
- Lying or being secretive about opiate use.
- Exhibiting defensiveness when approached about opiate use.
- Using opiates in dangerous situations, like driving.
- Continuing to use opiates despite negative consequences related to use.
- Wanting to cut back on opiate use but unable to do so.
Psychological and physical signs of opiate abuse 4:
- Drowsiness or observable intoxication.
- Problems with memory.
- Poor hygiene, health, and eating habits.
- Neglected appearance.
- Collapsed veins or track marks, due to intravenous use.
- Severe constipation.
- Psychomotor slowing or agitation.
- Impaired attention span.
- Impaired judgment.
- Cravings to use opiates.
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not using opiates.
- Inappropriate pupil responses.
- Feelings of dissatisfaction with life.
What Are the Causes of Addiction?
Many factors influence the development of an opiate addiction; it is rarely the result of one specific factor. Generally, a person has a risk profile for substance abuse that includes the impact of both environmental factors and genetics. These factors interact in ways that may serve to affect an individual’s risk profile for opiate addiction.
- People that experience high amounts of stress may use opiates to self-medicate their negative emotions or feelings 5.
- Adverse childhood experiences like a single traumatic event or longstanding abuse can increase a person’s risk of progressing into addiction 6, 7.
- Substance addiction is known to be significantly associated with psychological disorders, though the directional nature of this association is still being explored 8.
- Genetics can provide a baseline risk profile for substance addiction, but genes are not destiny when it comes to substance abuse. Just because a person is predisposed to develop an addiction does not mean that they will struggle with a substance use disorder 9, 10.
Long-term Consequences of Opiate Abuse
Opiate addiction does not develop after one use; it is the result of a long-standing pattern of abuse that can lead to tolerance and dependence, which can eventually progress into an addiction. This long-term pattern of opiate abuse can have major consequences for the user in both their health and social functioning.
Some long-term health consequences of opiate abuse include 11, 12, 13:
- Neonatal abstinence syndrome, or withdrawal symptoms in a newborn who was exposed to opiates while in the womb.
- Increased risk of contracting HIV or hepatitis, due to intravenous use.
- Increased risk of overdose.
- Hypoxic (lack of adequate blood oxygenation) tissue or organ injury resulting from repeated episodes of profound respiratory depression.
- Long-lasting brain damage.
On top of these serious health problems, an addicted individual may suffer problematic and distressing life consequences, such as:
- Familial, friend, or child neglect.
- Disregard for the maintenance of health, diet, or appearance.
- Money problems.
- Legal entanglements.
- Isolation from others.
- Loss of job.
- Poor school performance.
- Very low self-esteem.
Get Help for Opiate Addiction Today
The consequences of opiate addiction can take a major negative toll on the user, but it’s never too late to get started on the path to recovery. Call our helpline at 1-888-439-3435 Who Answers? to speak to an addiction support specialist about opiate addiction treatment options.
- Holden, J. E., Jeong, Y., & Forrest, J. M. (2005). The endogenous opioid system and clinical pain management. AACN Clinical Issues, 16(3). 291-301.
- Benyamin, R., Trescot, A. M., Datta, S., Buenaventura, R., Adlaka, R., Sehgal, N., Glaser, S. E., & Vallejo, R. (2008). Opioid complications and side effects. Pain Physician, 11. S105-S120.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2014). What are the treatments for heroin addiction?
- American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.
- Goeders, N. E. (2003). The impact of stress on addiction. European Neuropsychopharmacology, 13. 435-441.
- Dube, S. R., Felitti, V. J., Dong, M., Chapman, D. P., Giles, W. H., & Anda, R. F. (2003). Childhood abuse, neglect, and household dysfunction and the risk of illicit drug use: The adverse childhood experiences study. Pediatrics, 111(3).
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2016). Adverse Childhood Experiences.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2010). Comorbidity: Addiction and other mental illnesses. Research Report Series.
- Bevilacqua, L. & Goldman, D. (2009). Genes and addictions. Clinical Pharmacological Therapy, 85(4). 359-361.
- University of Utah. Genes and Addiction.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2014). Research report series: Prescription drug abuse.
- Patrick, S. W., Davis, M. M., Lehman, C. U., & Cooper, W. O. (2015). Increasing incidence and geographic distribution of neonatal abstinence syndrome: United States 2009 to 2012. Journal of Perinatology, 35(8). 667.
- Compton, W. M., Jones, C. M., & Baldwin, G. T. (2016). Relationship between nonmedical prescription-opioid use and heroin use. New England Journal of Medicine, 374. 154-163.