Facing off the opiate detox process is a formidable barrier for many to overcome, regardless of how much they desire to break free from opioids or heroin. While admittedly unpleasant, the detoxification phase of recovery is a necessary first step that will allow the individual to transition safely to the treatment phase, which is where the real work of recovery is encountered. But to get there one has to first complete the detox and withdrawal process.
It often helps reduce the anxiety around anticipating detox to have a basic understanding of the detox protocol for opiate withdrawal. Just knowing that this is a fairly predictable process made manageable with proven interventions can relieve stress and help the individual move closer to initiating this important step.
Understanding Opiate Addiction
According to the government’s Health and Human Services (HHS) website, more than 2 million Americans had an opiate use disorder in 2016, and over 130 people died from opiate-related deaths in 2017. In late 2017 HHS issued a public health alert to increase public awareness and guide individuals toward appropriate treatment. Clearly, the U.S. is in the midst of an opiate crisis that has been slowly building for the past decade.
Opiate addiction directly impacts the opioid receptors in the brain, blocking the feelings of pain, and producing a euphoric, deeply relaxing state. The brain registers this pleasant state as a positive experience and one to be repeated, and thus the neural pathways and brain chemistry begins to become altered. Over time, increased tolerance to the drug leads to higher, more frequent dosing, and the brain stops producing dopamine as a result.
Synthetic prescription opioids were initially said to be non-habit forming by the medical community and the pharmaceutical companies who manufactured the drugs. This has, obviously, turned out to be patently false, as millions have found themselves psychologically and/or physically dependent on these medications. In many instances, once they are unable to secure the opioids legally, individuals may turn to heroin or illicit sources for the opioids, increasing their exposure to fentanyl, which has been seeping into the drug market in recent years. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 50 times more potent than morphine and deadly when the user is unaware that the drug they purchased contains the drug.
What is the Detox Protocol for Opiate Withdrawal?
When it is time to enter rehab, the first step will be securing a medical detox. The trained detox team will provide the detox protocol for opiate withdrawal by the use of medications, such as methadone or buprenorphine, which help step the addict down to a less potent opioid that also helps block cravings for the drug of abuse.
These medications work by attaching to the brain’s opioid receptors and tricking the brain into thinking it has received the drug of abuse. The drugs are strictly regulated and monitored and may be prescribed for at least one year following detox. This helps the individual transition into recovery with a reduced risk of relapse. After a period of time, some can shift over to naltrexone, which is non-narcotic and also helps reduce cravings and relapse.
The Benefits of a Medically Supervised Detox
It is never advised that an individual seeking to become clean and sober attempt to detox without medical supervision. This is due to the highly unpleasant withdrawal symptoms that, when left untreated, can derail the detox and send the individual right back to using. A medical detox program is able to provide the medical interventions that will dramatically reduce the suffering and help safely guide the individual through the detox process.
In addition to medical interventions, the medical detox staff is also trained to provide psychological support as needed. Many of the withdrawal symptoms are psychological in nature, and can be just as unpleasant. By providing this emotional support, the individual is more apt to stay on course and complete the detoxification successfully.
Transitioning to Opiate Addiction Treatment
Detox alone is not sufficient for achieving a sustained recovery. This is because, while the body may have been detoxified the reflexive addictive behaviors are still hard-wired into the brain. To truly achieve long-term sobriety it is necessary to make fundamental shifts in thinking and subsequent behaviors. This is accomplished via an extended stay at a residential addiction recovery program.
Rehab will involve an integrated program of therapeutic activities and therapies that compliment each other as a comprehensive approach to treating opiate addiction. These treatment elements might include:
- Psychotherapy. Modalities may include cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, motivation enhancement therapy, solutions focused therapy, psychodynamic therapy, and contingency management.
- Groups. A therapist leads discussion topics that allow the participants to share their personal stories, challenges, and successes as they travel the recovery journey together.
- Classes. Learning about how addiction works and how the opiates impact brain functioning can help deter future drug use. The classes also provide opportunities to create carefully considered relapse prevention planning, as well as to acquire recovery skills such as conflict resolution, communication and interpersonal relating skills, anger management, and stress reduction.
- Holistic therapies. These experiential activities foster relaxation, introspection, and self-empowerment. Holistic activities might include mindfulness training, meditation, yoga, equine therapy, art therapy, massage therapy, and gardening therapy.
- Aftercare. Rounding out a comprehensive rehab program are aftercare services. These might include 12-step meetings like N.A. or SMART Recovery, sober living housing, and ongoing outpatient therapy.
Quest 2 Recovery Adheres to Detox Protocol For Opiate Withdrawal
Quest 2 Recovery is a Los Angeles-based private recovery program that offers comprehensive medical detox, treatment, and continuing care services for helping individuals overcome opiate addiction. Our intimate and serene treatment environment provides a sense of comfort and security while clients transition through the phases of early recovery. By creating an integrated program that includes traditional evidence-based therapies, medication assisted therapy, and holistic therapies, all facets of the individual are addressed and treated. For more information about our family-like program, please reach out to Quest 2 Recovery today at (888) 453-9396.