An opiate is a pharmacological term for a substance derived from opium, such as heroin. However, an opioid is a way to describe both synthetic and natural substances that bind to opioid receptors in the brain. Popular examples of these are:
- Oxycontin (Oxycodone)
- Vicodin (Hydrocodone)
These drugs are usually prescribed to patients suffering from chronic pain or conditions such as cancer or following serious injury or surgery. They are versatile and can be taken in tablet form orally, snorted, or for those who want the most intense and quick ‘hit’, will intravenously inject the opiate into their bloodstream.
Florida, like many states, has seen a rise in opioid-related overdose deaths over the last few decades. So much so, that in 2017, then-Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency declaring opioid addiction a public health emergency. Beachcomber has been and will continue to work with the greater Miami community to help reduce the impact of this crisis by helping those who seek help an opportunity to withdraw, detox and ultimately enter recovery for opiate addiction.
While the prescription may only be meant for short term use, there have been several reports of patients becoming quickly addicted to opioids and continuing to seek out the drugs from street dealers once the prescription has ended or moved on to heroin as a cheaper alternative.
What is opiate addiction?
A person may begin taking opiates to reduce anxiety, pain or for purely hedonistic purposes, to feel pleasure, but a person who is addicted to opiates will eventually take the drugs in order to keep away the serious withdrawal symptoms that follow. These symptoms can range from nausea and tremors to critical organ failure and terrifying hallucinations.
A person addicted to opiates will increase the amount and frequency they take to keep up with the tolerance their body begins to form; they will continue to take opiates despite encountering negative consequences, such as hospitalization, arrest or termination of employment or education. Opiate use, to an addicted person, will take priority over everything else, other their relationships with family, friends and partners and even their health and wellbeing.
Due to a combination of inconsistent pricing of opiates and the likelihood of an addicted person being unable to hold down a job, many people addicted to opiates turn to criminal activity to fund their habit.
What are the symptoms of opioid withdrawal and detox?
Withdrawal and eventually detoxing the body of opioids can be a dangerous process and should always be done under the care of drug treatment professionals. As withdrawal progresses, symptoms can change in type and severity.
Initial symptoms of opiate withdrawal may include:
- General feelings of unease
- Muscle aches and pains
- Increased tearing
- Inability to sleep or nap
- Cold-like symptoms
As withdrawal progresses symptoms may include:
- Stomach and intestinal cramping
- Loose bowel movements or diarrhea
- Dilated pupils
- Continuous goose bumps
- Nausea and vomiting
Because opiates are a powerful narcotic, there may be many other withdrawal symptoms or complications when detoxing that may arise.
Signs and symptoms of an opiate addiction
It is likely that a person who is addicted to opiates will attempt to hide the addiction from loved ones and may even be in denial as to whether their use has become problematic. However, research has found that there are similar traits that those addicted to opiates display, such as;
- Feeling a strong urge or craving for opiates, despite the prescription period being over and embodying no need to be medicated with them
- Sudden, rapid changes in personality or mood, especially when prevented from or confronted overusing opiates, becoming quickly aggressive, defensive or tearful
- Putting opiates above all other commitments and responsibilities, including childcare, education, employment, friendships, family and intimate relationships
- Being unable to pay a mortgage, rent, household bills or buy food because of a higher commitment to opiates
- Experiencing a series of negative consequences as a result of using opiates, but continuing to use the drugs
- Making attempts to stop using them, or to cut down, confiding in friends that recovery is necessary, but repeatedly failing these attempts or going back on promises
Treatment options for opiate addiction
It is highly likely that a person seeking treatment for opiate addiction will need to complete a medically assisted detoxification before embarking on treatment which will require the addicted person to take responsibility for their addiction and explore the underlying causes.
Opiate receptors, over time, will adapt and resist the drugs, resulting in the body becoming physically dependent; this is not the same as being addicted but can be dangerous to manage without medical care, and must be completed in order for a patient to engage meaningfully in further treatment to understand their addiction.
All treatment services are managed and delivered by highly skilled, experienced professionals who treat each person seeking help with compassion and respect. Our goal at Beachcomber is to help every client through their own unique journey to recovery, beyond addiction.
All services from Beachcomber include:
- Inpatient Residential Treatment
- One-to-one Therapy
- Group therapy
- Family/couples therapy
- Rapid Resolution Therapy
- Outpatient Treatment
- Emotional Freedom Technique
- Acupuncture Therapy
- Yoga Therapy
- Meditation Therapy
- Light-Sound Neurotherapy