Opioid Use Disorder — A Misunderstood Condition

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An estimated 2 million Americans suffer from opioid painkiller abuse, with another 591,000 having a heroin use disorder. Despite these staggering numbers, opioid use disorder remains poorly understood. Many people do not understand the origins of opioid abuse, the toll it takes on people, or the best treatment options for opioid use disorder.

What Is Opioid Use Disorder?

Opioid use disorder is a medical diagnosis used to describe a set of symptoms and behaviors associated with opioid use. Opioids might include prescription painkillers such as Vicodin, Oxycontin, or morphine, as well as heroin. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th Edition) states that people with opioid use disorder have two or more of the following symptoms:

  • Taking opioids in larger amounts or for longer than intended
  • Persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to control opioid use
  • Spending a large amount of time obtaining, using, or recovering from opioids
  • Craving for opioids
  • Failing to fulfill major obligations at work or home due to opioid use
  • Continued use despite opioid use causing social or interpersonal problems
  • Giving up important social, work, or recreational activities
  • Recurrent opioid use in situations where it is physically hazardous (e.g., driving)
  • Continuing to use opioids despite knowing that they are making a medical or psychological problem worse
  • Tolerance, characterized by needing more opioids to get the same effect
  • Withdrawal symptoms when opioids are not available

This list shows that opioid use disorder can involve two major classes of features. Physical dependence on opioids includes tolerance or withdrawal symptoms. These are signs that your body has grown to depend on the drugs to function normally. Addiction symptoms are behaviors like cravings or spending a lot of time using drugs. These are signs that you may have difficulty controlling your use of opioids. Effective treatments address both the physical and behavioral aspects of opioid use disorder.

What is the Best Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder?

Many people mistakenly assume that 12-step programs such as Narcotics Anonymous are the best way to address opioid use disorder. However, these programs often fail to give people the support they need to maintain long-term sobriety. Scientific evidence shows that effective treatment programs must address physical dependence as well as behavioral addiction symptoms.

For example, Waismann Method® offers medical detox combined with behavior therapy. Waismann Treatment® medical detox involves providing medications to cleanse the brain and body of opioids. This allows you to go through the withdrawal process in a supportive medical environment. Afterward, you will receive aftercare including behavior therapy. Therapy is the best way to address the behavioral symptoms of addiction, including cravings. It is important to learn new coping strategies now that you are no longer using drugs to manage stress. A good opioid treatment program focuses on the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of your person. This comprehensive approach provides a good track to sustain recovery.

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Rapid Detox for Opioid Use Disorder

Rapid detoxification from opioids involves special medications that bind tightly to opioid receptors in your brain and body. These medications bind so tightly that they knock off opioid molecules lingering in your system. This causes you to experience withdrawal symptoms, which can be managed by medications or by placing you under sedation. Waismann Method® conducts all rapid detox treatments in an accredited, full-service hospital. Anesthesia-assisted detox involves a stay in the ICU unit, providing 24-hour monitoring by medical professionals. This also ensures your safety throughout the detoxification and withdrawal process.

The most important aspect of medical detox is to find a program that offers individualized care. Some programs use a one-size-fits-all approach to detox. That means that every person who walks through the door gets the same treatment protocol, regardless of age, medical history, opioid use history, or other relevant factors. The Waismann Method offers individualized treatment protocols tailored to your unique needs. This is more likely to result in successful detox and ensure a healthy recovery.

How Post-Detox Recovery Supports Sobriety

After detox, your brain and body have been cleared of opioid molecules. However, you are likely in the same environment with the same pressures and difficulties that caused you to misuse opioids in the first place. Simply returning home without addressing these factors can lead to relapse. Furthermore, your body and mind are going through an intense adjustment period. Your basic functions including sleep, digestion and emotional stability are compromised.  That is why a post-detox aftercare facility such as Domus Retreat, is so important.

A good aftercare environment offers an individualized treatment program designed to support you in the early days of recovery. This includes addressing physical symptoms related to detoxification as well as behavior therapy to address the root causes of opioid use disorder. Many people first begin using opioids in an attempt to numb the pain associated with untreated mental health problems. As a result, aftercare may involve treatment for mental health symptoms such as depression, anxiety, bereavement, trauma, or serious mental illness. Through behavior therapy, you will learn to recognize triggers for opioid use and use new coping strategies. This is the first step toward a long-lasting recovery from opioid use disorder.

Speak With an Addiction Specialist

Contact us to learn more about what alcoholism treatment options are available, and which one is the right one for you.
(866) 713-3869


CDC: Assessment and Evidence-based Treatments for Opioid Use Disorder 

Reviewed by Clare Waismann, CATC, Founder of Domus Retreat

All topics for the blog are selected and written based on high standards of editorial quality and cited source material. Articles are reviewed by Clare Waismann, CATC and founder of Domus Retreat and Waismann Method®, for accuracy, credibility and relevancy. Clare Waismann is an authority and expert on opioid dependence and related topics covered on the blog. Some articles are additionally reviewed by one of Domus Retreat’s specialists, depending on their area of expertise. For additional information and disclaimers regarding third-party sources and content for informational purposes only, please see our Terms of Service.

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