Florida Opiate Addiction Rehabilitation & Treatment Center
Opioid addiction can be very scary. Whether you have developed an addiction or you are concerned for a loved one, you likely feel confused, overwhelmed and terrified by what you face. Because an addiction can start by taking legally prescribed prescription drugs, it may catch you off guard when you realize what's happening.
If you suffer from an opiate addiction, you are likely unsure of who you should talk to about your problem. You might feel embarrassed or afraid of getting in trouble or simply scared to try to kick your addiction. If you're trying to assist a friend or family member with an addiction, you may find yourself confused about how it happened and what you need to do to get them help.
The good news is you can find treatment in Florida for opioid dependence. No one has to go through this alone. With the right information and a lot of support, you or your loved one can successfully navigate the recovery process to reclaim their health and their life.
What Are Opioids?
Opioids are a category of drugs that includes legal prescription painkillers like codeine, methadone, morphine and oxycodone. It also includes the illegal drugs heroin and fentanyl, which is a synthetic opiate.
They work by mimicking endorphins, which your body releases to both limit pain and experience pleasure. Opioids are more powerful than our bodies' natural endorphins, so their effect is magnified, resulting in extreme pain relief, as well as intense feelings of pleasure and even relaxation. This is why they are so effective as painkillers. When a person has just had surgery or is coping with an injury, prescription painkillers bring welcome relief that can't be found in over-the-counter options.
As a whole, this category of drugs has become extremely common in the United States. They are widely prescribed because they are so effective at treating pain. Not only that, but drug makers once claimed they were not addictive, which led medical professionals to prescribe them in greater numbers:
- As the drugs became prescribed more frequently, medical professionals discovered they were, in fact, highly addictive, but not before abuse and addiction rates began to skyrocket. People liked feeling good. They welcomed the relief from their pain, and they enjoyed the calm, relaxed feeling they got from their medication. They kept taking them.
- A huge red flag arose when the number of deaths from opioid overdose began to rise. The medical community discovered that when a person takes opioids they bind to receptors in the brain that control breathing — both frequency of breaths and how deeply you breathe.
When a person takes too much of an opioid and overdoses, they are at high risk for slowing or even stopping breathing completely. While any drug can be deadly when taken in large quantities, the impact opioids have on a person's respiratory system make them especially dangerous in the case of an overdose.
How Do You Know If Someone Is Addicted to Opiates?
In 2016, more than 42,000 people died from an opioid overdose in the United States, a dramatic figure that has risen quickly within just a few short years. One of the saddest things about opioid addiction is that, for many people in Florida, it began innocently when a doctor prescribed opiates to them in response to a health issue. While many take opioids as prescribed and then stop with no problems, others find they cannot stop once they start.
How Opiate Addiction Typically Begins
For some, the "high" that comes from the medication feels good. They're relaxed and joyful. For others, the relief of finally being free from intense pain keeps them coming back for more. They actually may even become scared to go without their medication because they are so afraid of the pain returning. They keep taking the medication. Before they know it, they are addicted.
One of the reasons opiate addiction is so serious is for that very reason — it doesn't happen on purpose. Addiction is a disease.
Sometimes people who start out abusing prescription opioids turn to heroin, which is chemically similar. This occurs when their prescription runs out and they see no other options. Sadly, because heroin is relatively easy to get and is often cheaper than other opiates, it has become an easy but dangerous alternative for someone who cannot access prescription opiates.
Opiate addiction can happen to anyone. Teens and adolescents are among the groups who carry the greatest risk of becoming addicted to prescription painkillers. It has become "trendy" for teens to scour their parents' medicine cabinets and experiment with whatever they find there — sometimes with dangerous results, especially when they mix them with alcohol. The influence of peer pressure when it comes to using and abusing drugs remains alive and well.
Signs and Symptoms of Opioid Addiction
No matter how an addiction started, it can spiral out of control for many. An opiate addiction is life-threatening, just like any other substance abuse problem. Addiction causes physical and mental health damage that progresses and results in serious and long-lasting effects.
In the early phases of opiate addiction, you may notice subtle differences, such as emotional or behavioral changes. You may have a sense that something is not right. As the addiction progresses, you may see:
- Mood swings
- Changes in sleep habits
- Poor decision-making skills
- Going to great lengths to obtain more medication, such as borrowing medication or visiting multiple doctors for duplicate prescriptions
Hypersensitivity to sensory stimuli, increased initial energy and loss of appetite are all physical symptoms of opiate addiction. People who are addicted to opiates tend to experience increased anxiety, depression and irritability and, for those who don't try to hide their use, they may spend a lot of time talking about it.
As their addiction progresses, they may also begin abandoning people and activities that used to be important to them. If it goes on long enough, an addiction devastates a family because someone suffering becomes unreliable for household chores, parental responsibilities and even financial support of the family.
Risks and Side Effects of Opioid Addiction
As we mentioned before, opiate addiction also comes with a very serious risk of death from an overdose because one of the physical side effects of opiate use is depressed respiratory functioning — an overdose of opiates can cause the user to stop breathing completely. Because of the rise in opiate overdoses, drugs like naloxone are increasingly carried by first responders to dispense when they arrive at the scene of a suspected overdose.
While there is help in the case of an overdose, this should never be considered an alternative to seeking treatment. If you or someone you love struggles with an opioid addiction, it is critically important to solicit professional assistance immediately. It can be difficult to tell when use becomes abuse or tolerance becomes an addiction. Even when you realize what's happening, you may be too scared or embarrassed to reach out. But, though it is hard, asking for aid is so important.
Dangers of Opiate Abuse During Pregnancy
Another big concern about opioid addiction is its link to neonatal abstinence syndrome in infants. When women use opioids while they're pregnant, their baby may be born with this drug withdrawal syndrome. In 2012, approximately 21,732 infants were born with this illness, five times more than the numbers recorded just a decade earlier.
Neonatal abstinence syndrome causes low birth weight and respiratory issues in newborns, leading to longer hospital stays and high medical costs. In fact, on average, infants born with neonatal abstinence syndrome spend 16.9 days in the hospital — on average, healthy newborns stay in the hospital for only 2.1 days.
Help for Opioid Dependence
Both Florida and the federal government have recognized the alarming rise in opioid addiction. In response, they are working to understand and control this epidemic as quickly as possible. Their efforts include:
- Allocation of funding toward research as well as equipping medical professionals and first responders in the use of anti-overdose medications.
- Improved access to opiate addiction treatment centers.
- Improved public health surveillance and public awareness campaigns.
- Support for research addressing pain management and drug addiction.
- Advocacy for improved pain management strategies.
While all of these efforts ultimately benefit people suffering from an opioid addiction, knowing there is an increase in research and awareness efforts doesn't always provide tangible hope when you're in the throes of addiction. You're looking for an immediate solution that will give you or your loved one the chance to fight. This is where opioid addiction treatment centers like Tranquil Shores in Florida come into the picture.
Blue Cross & Blue Shield
Tufts Health Plan
How Our Opiate Addiction Treatment Program Works in Florida
Detoxing from opioids isn't easy. Because opioids alter your brain chemistry, you will feel great discomfort when you quit using them. In the first stages, you'll likely experience things like:
- Body aches
- Nausea, stomach pain and/or vomiting
- Extreme mood swings
- Drug cravings
Depending on how long you used opioids and how much you consumed, these withdrawal symptoms last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. It's going to be intense. And the best way to get through this phase is to make sure you aren't doing it alone.
This is where finding a reputable, solid recovery program comes into play. Detox is only the first step on a long road to overcoming an addiction.
The ultimate goal of addiction recovery is to resume a healthy lifestyle with the people you love, as well as teach you strategies to overcome the urge to use drugs again. To do this, you'll want to find a treatment facility that offers long-term options, or "maintenance treatment" programs that include talk therapy and possibly medication.
How Medication Helps Treat Opioid Addiction
It may seem odd to think about taking medication as part of a program for dealing with addiction to drugs that are often legally prescribed. However, certain medications have been shown to have a significant, positive impact on drug addiction treatment:
Using one of these medications to treat opiate addiction can reduce use, and thus prevent overdose. For instance, Baltimore saw a 37 % reduction in heroin overdose fatalities after buprenorphine became available. These medications are often incorporated into drug addiction treatment because they help those in recovery cope with cravings and withdrawal symptoms, and they also reduce long-term urges that might otherwise lead to relapse.
Recovery programs are tailored to the individual needs of each patient, addressing their unique needs and situation. Some employ a medically assisted approach to treatment, while others focus on behavioral therapies. And many provide a combination of the two.
The medications offer physical relief from the discomfort and cravings associated with overcoming addiction, and behavioral therapies provide guidance in coping with the social and psychological factors that may have led to the addiction or might become stressful for someone in recovery down the road.