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Opioid Addiction

OpioidsOpioids are synthetic derivatives of opiates, such as morphine, codeine, and thebaine. Opioids are found in several prescribed medications – like Vicodin, Percocet, or OxyContin – used to manage acute pain that isn’t resolved by alternative pain-relief methods. Opioids have a high potential for abuse and addiction and, as a result, are DEA scheduled and controlled substances. People who struggle with opioid addiction may sacrifice important aspects of their life in the quest to obtain and use opioids.

When it comes to opioid addiction, there are some key points to consider:

  • Options for treatment.
  • Medication assistance.
  • How much treatment will cost.
  • How to pay for treatment.
  • Symptoms of opioid addiction.
  • Causes of opioid addiction.
  • Long-term consequences.
  • How to start recovery today.

Treatment for Opioid Addiction

When opioids are prescribed, they are carefully dosed for each individual. Opioid misuse and abuse occur when people take the drug in a way other than prescribed. Examples of misuse and abuse include:

Higher amounts of opioids

  • Taking a higher amount than prescribed.
  • Taking the opioid more frequently than prescribed.
  • Administering the opioid in a way other than prescribed (snorting, dissolving and injecting, etc.).
  • Using an opioid without a prescription.

When an individual abuses prescription opioids, the drugs stimulate brain receptors that normally interact with endogenous opioids—neurotransmitters that are already present in the human body, including endorphins and enkephalins 1. These effects lead to calmness, reduced sensation of pain, and a general sense of wellbeing 2. The neurochemical reward associated with these positive feelings can serve as positive reinforcement for a drug abuser, causing them to crave more and more opioids in order to maintain the pleasurable feelings, eventually giving way to a pattern of addiction.

When a person develops an addiction to opioids, it can have a major negative impact on their life, but help is always available. Professional addiction treatment can help a person struggling with an opioid dependence to maintain abstinence and develop positive habits to combat cravings and minimize compulsive addictive behaviors.

Even though quitting opioid use is not life-threatening on its own, the help of a formal treatment program can provide a number of benefits, such as:

  • 24-hour sobriety support.
  • Medications to help the person through detox, withdrawal, and cravings.
  • Group and individual therapy.
  • Crisis counseling.
  • Medical care.
  • Relapse prevention training.
  • Sober safe haven.

Rehab options are diverse—there are many distinct treatment options to fit the needs of each individual. Some inpatient programs even specialize in certain populations to ensure the comfort of their guests. There are programs that focus on particular genders, age groups, LGBTQ populations, and groups at high risk for addiction like veterans.

There are multiple different treatment program options:

  • 12-step: A fellowship program that is free to join. The only requirement is that you wish to stop using drugs. These programs provide you with a supportive and encouraging environment while recovering from opioid addiction. Options include Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and Pills Anonymous (PA).
  • Outpatient treatment: The recovering individual continues to live at home while attending regular treatment sessions from 1-5 times per week, for varying amounts of time.
  • Inpatient treatment: Treatment takes place at a live-in facility with 24-hour psychological and medical support. Many people find the structure of an inpatient program to be beneficial while in recovery.
  • Luxury treatment: Inpatient treatment in a desirable location, such as the beach, with a focus on sought-after amenities and comfort.
  • Executive treatment: A variant on the luxury treatment model that allows clients to continue to conduct work while working through treatment at a facility.

Medication for Opioid Addiction

The grip of opioid addiction can feel overwhelming. Many recovering users face cravings, and a formal treatment program can prescribe medications to help ease the discomfort. Many medications prescribed for the treatment of opioid addiction act upon the same receptors as the prescription opioids themselves.

The following are medications approved to treat opioid addiction 3:

  • Methadone is a slow-acting opioid that reduces cravings without providing the powerfully addictive, euphoric high of abused opioids.
  • Buprenorphine is another medication that imitates opioids with a limited high and less potential for dangerous side effects.
  • Naltrexone is a medication that blocks opioid receptors to prevent abuse.
  • Suboxone is a combination medication containing buprenorphine and naloxone to prevent abuse of the opioid component in high enough doses.

Cost of Opioid Addiction Treatment


Though treatment costs may seem daunting, the most important thing to consider is the lifelong benefit of breaking free from substance addiction.
The cost of opioid addiction treatment varies widely depending on what kind of program a person chooses, the length of time they engage in treatment, what kind of amenities the program offers, the program location, and the extent of the individual’s insurance coverage. Some insurance plans will cover all costs of treatment, while others will only cover a portion of the program.

Call us at 1-888-439-3435 Who Answers? to learn more about the extent of your insurance coverage and opioid treatment costs.

Paying for Treatment

If a person in need of treatment does not have insurance, there are many different financing options:

  • Personal loans allow an individual to pay the full amount upfront, then pay back the loan over time.
  • Some programs allow patients to sign up for a payment plan, where they spread the cost of treatment over monthly installments.
  • Credit cards can help cover the bulk cost of treatment upfront, allowing the patient to pay back the cost over time.
  • Some programs offer sliding scale costs, where the cost of treatment is based on the individual’s financial situation and ability to pay.
  • Some programs offer rehab scholarships for people seeking recovery.
  • The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) offers grants to help cover treatment costs.
  • Crowdfunding websites like GoFundMe allow anyone to donate to an individual’s recovery fund.
  • A person seeking help for their substance abuse problem can ask their friends and loved ones for help covering treatment costs.

Though treatment costs may seem daunting, the most important thing to consider is the lifelong benefit of breaking free from substance addiction.

Signs and Symptoms of Opioid Addiction

There are many different signs and symptoms of opioid addiction, including physical, psychological, and behavioral changes. The array of opioid addiction symptoms presented will vary from person to person, but they generally follow a similar course.

Behavioral signs of opioid abuse include 4:

  • Taking higher doses of opioids than intended.
  • Being preoccupied with getting and using opioids.
  • Using opioids for longer than intended or prescribed.
  • Experiencing work, school, or home problems related to opioid use.
  • Getting defensive when approached about opioid use habits.
  • Lying about opioid use.
  • Using opioids in situations where physical safety is at risk (for example, while driving).
  • Experiencing opioid withdrawal syndrome when not using.
  • Continuing to take opioids despite interpersonal and social problems related to using.
  • Exhibiting secretive behavior surrounding opioid use.
  • Desiring to cut back or stop opioid use but unable to do so.

Physical and psychological signs of opioid abuse and addiction 4:

  • Poor hygiene.
  • Neglected appearance.
  • Craving opioids.
  • Extreme drowsiness.
  • Memory problems.
  • Poor eating habits.
  • Observable intoxication.
  • Pupil response problems.
  • Psychomotor agitation or slowing.
  • Feeling dissatisfied with life.
  • Impaired judgment.
  • Impaired ability to maintain attention.
  • Track marks or collapsed veins, due to intravenous use.
  • Perforated nasal septum or nasal bleeding due to intranasal use.

Have you noticed any of these symptoms in yourself or someone you care about? Call our hotline at 1-888-439-3435 Who Answers? to speak with a treatment advisor about how to start recovery today.

Causes of Opioid Addiction

Opioid addiction is a complicated condition that can be influenced by several factors. Rarely would a single factor give rise to an addiction, but there are certain factors that can have a cumulative impact on an individual’s susceptibility to developing an addiction, including:

  • Stress may push someone to the point where they start to take opioids to self-medicate, which can lead to problematic use and addiction 5.
  • Adverse childhood experiences, such as abuse or neglect, can increase a person’s risk for developing an addiction problem 6, 7.
  • Psychological disorders, such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia, are known to be associated with substance addiction 8.
  • Genes can predispose a person to developing a substance use problem, but this should not be confused with causing one. Genes are not destiny, and the environment can moderate these effects 9, 10.

Long-term Effects of Opioid Addiction

Building Tolerance to OpioidsOpioid addiction is a progressive condition that develops as the drugs are repeatedly abused. As a person’s opioid use escalates, their body adjusts to the doses and they will begin to require higher and higher doses in order to achieve the same effects. This is known as tolerance. On top of this, some users will find that they need to take opioids in order to avoid the uncomfortable withdrawal syndrome. This is known as dependence. Abuse, tolerance, and dependence all contribute to the development of an addiction to opioids.

Long-term opioid abuse can cause serious problems for the user, such as 11, 12, 13:

  • Severe breathing problems.
  • Brain damage, due to lack of oxygen.
  • Progression to heroin use.
  • Neonatal abstinence syndrome, occurring to newborns who were exposed to opioids while in the womb.
  • Overdose.
  • Coma.
  • Death.

In addition, the suffering individual may face negative life consequences:

  • Neglect of family or child.
  • Disregard for health and diet.
  • Financial issues.
  • Legal troubles.
  • Isolation.
  • Low self-esteem.
  • Job loss.
  • Poor academic performance.

Get Help for Opioid Addiction Today

Opioid addiction can have a lasting negative impact on the user and the people that care about them. Don’t let opioid abuse take over your life, call us at 1-888-439-3435 Who Answers? to speak with a treatment advisor about beginning the recovery journey today to take back your life.

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