The opioid epidemic has been a constant in America for many decades. Legislation, lawsuits, and learning have each helped us understand the severity of this epidemic better, but treatment for those suffering from addiction has often lagged behind.
The stigma against drug use in America has made opioid addiction research an uphill struggle, to the point that it is a topic often absent in medical schools. Since declaring the opioid epidemic to be a Public Health Emergency in 2017 though, America has seen a lot of progress in the field of addiction therapy and the treatment of those struggling with opioids.
The Two Current Methods for Opioid Addiction Treatment
It’s important to understand first of all that these two methods are not used independently of each other. Neither treatment is comprehensive, and those suffering from Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) often need as much guidance and assistance as possible to find healing from a condition that is often referred to as a chronic relapsing disorder. Together, these treatments offer real help:
- Behavioral Therapy – Therapy developed for conditions like opioid use disorder have to be designed with each individual patient in mind. The issues that one person may face during their recovery period depends on various factors, from the effect on their brain receptors to the pain the patient originally utilized the opioids to avoid. Creating personalized plans for relapse support and behavior intervention have been an effective strategy.
- Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) – The main goal of using additional medication to treat opioid addiction is to support the patient’s own recovery. Opioid and opioid antagonists (medications that shut down the receptors opioids take advantage of) can be carefully used to great effect during a patient’s recovery. By blocking or altering the opioid’s effect on the brain receptors and chemistry of the individual, we are able to alleviate withdrawal symptoms that often lead to chronic relapse or continued cravings. The treatment is structured to reinforce the detox process and bolster the patient’s continued stabilization and recovery.
Using medication to benefit the recovery process of a previous medication abuse condition is not a choice made lightly. Though research into medication-assisted treatment has been evidence-based, it is still important that this decision be made by the patient and those close to them, with advice from their therapist and doctor.
Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder is Possible
As we continue to pour necessary funds into Opioid Use Disorder research, we will continue to learn more about the recovery process and how best to assist those suffering from addiction. This allows us to not only pursue long-term treatment for patients, but also learn how to help others never face it in the first place.