Opiate addiction is a major problem in America and around the world. Communities are struggling to find different methods to fight the problem. One controversial approach is Opiate Replacement Therapy.
What Is It?
Opioids such as heroin or oxycontin start working quickly, but then they also leave the bloodstream quickly. This can cause users to get addicted to them very quickly. As the body builds tolerance, it can take more and more of the drug to reach the same effect.
Opioid replacement therapy does exactly what its name says, it replaces these fast-acting opioids with another such as methadone. Methadone has a long half-life which will last for a day or more. It doesn’t give the user the same sense of euphoria, but it will also largely eliminate the withdrawal symptoms as well as drug cravings.
Another drug, approved only in 2000, is called buprenorphine. It can remain in one’s system for 72 hours. It’s also known for having a “ceiling effect” which means that even if a person tries to get high by taking more than the prescribed amount, the effects will plateau without the euphoria.
Methadone comes in a tablet, but buprenorphine comes in a film strip which you put under your tongue and it’s hard to abuse them.
When a person recovering from an opioid addiction uses methadone or buprenorphine, they can then either taper off of it, or some people stay on it long-term under doctor supervision. It should always be combined with psychiatric programs as well.
A benefit of tapering through opioid replacement therapy is that the withdrawal symptoms are less severe, and this diminishes the chances of a relapse and overdose. During the tapering period, the recovering person should work with mental health professionals to develop a plan of action that addresses the root causes of their addiction. It will be necessary to avoid or manage triggers, and to develop positive coping mechanisms.
There is some disagreement about opiate replacement therapy that you should discuss with your care provider before starting on it. Some professionals feel that no opiates are good opioids are good opioids and that long-term use under any circumstances is a bad idea. Other professionals feel that there are some individuals whose dependency is so severe that small or diminishing doses over the long-term is the only way to ensure recovery. There’s a lot of debate over this topic, so make sure that your rehab specialist understands your experiences as well as your family history. Learning about the debate can help you make an informed decision when you and your doctor decide what approach works best for you.
Replacement therapy is one option of many, but it has shown to be an effective choice for some people. Our specialists are eager to discuss your history and needs so that a personalized recovery program can be developed. Call us today at (855) 441-2449 to get started and to choose the best program for you.