Treating Opiate Addiction

Opium, and opiate addiction, have a long history in the world and in the United States. Only recently has opiate addiction treatment become a common practice.

Opium dens were extremely popular in the west in the mid 1800s. The Chinese immigrants who came to work on the railroads brought the practice of smoking opium with them and many cowboys enjoyed the opium dens far more than the local saloon. In fact Wild Bill Hickok and Kit Carson were known to frequent opium dens. However, alcoholism was much more of a problem and eventually opium was proposed as a “treatment” for alcoholism.

A derivative of opium was created and hailed as a wonder drug for pain. This derivative was morphine and it became widely distributed and used while its addictiveness went virtually unnoticed until its extensive use during the Civil War for wounded soldiers culminated in an epidemic of morphine addicts after the war.

Ultimately a new drug was developed that marketed as a treatment for opiate and morphine addiction. This new drug, created in Germany and quickly introduced into the U.S. market, was called heroin. In fact, heroin was marketed to doctors in the United States as a “safe, non-addictive substitute for morphine”.

Opiate Addiction Treatment Process

Many people still see addiction as a moral failing, but it is the result of sustained use of a narcotic and that drug’s influence on the brain that result in addiction. Because of this, treatment for opiate addiction must be a long-term process in order to achieve success over the inclination of the addicted individual to relapse and use again.

This is a powerful addiction and many people go through the cycle of detox, treatment and relapse several times before finally getting clean and staying off the drug. Willpower is not enough. Many people become addicted by being prescribed an opiate of some form for an injury.

Since a doctor prescribed it these people often resist thinking of themselves as addicted, or as an addict, and therefore resist getting help. The addiction goes untreated and has that much more time to impact the brain.

After prolonged use, simply stopping will produce withdrawal symptoms including cravings for the drug, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, chills, abdominal pain, body aches, and more.

Ideal Treatment for Opiate Addiction

For opiate addiction treatment it is almost always necessary to do a detox in an acute, or subacute environment where the appropriate staff and medical personal will be available and the patient will be closely monitored.

Following detox it is standard to drop down to a residential treatment setting, or rehab as they have come to be known. Here the patient will have continued treatment for the addiction and co-occurring disorders, such as the psychological effects of an earlier trauma. Most people undergoing treatment for opiate addiction spend a minimum of 30 days in a residential setting before dropping down to a Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) and the an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP).

If you’re dealing with an opiate addiction, please call Recovery Channel now for advice and to see if your insurance will cover treatment.

Our Love of Opiates

When we speak of opiates and opiate addiction, we are primarily referring to opium, morphine, heroin, and some prescription opioids like oxycodone.

The use, and abuse, of these drugs has been regarded politically, legally, socially and medically mainly based on the socioeconomic group affected at any given time. Opiates garnered early appreciation and use by those in the healing trades very early in our country’s history – opiates were used extensively as a pain killer during the Civil Way, for example. Opiates were also popular as an ingredient in commercial products at one time, such as pain elixirs, cough suppressants and beverages used as a pick-me-up or “refresher”.

By the early 20th century the introduction of the hypodermic needle changed opiate abuse and attitudes toward opium use and opium addiction began to change as many opium addicts were no longer Civil War veterans or women who had used opiates for menstrual pain, but younger Americans, usually poor, who then turned to crime to acquire the drug. Addiction was then viewed as a moral problem.

A Long History of Opiate Addiction

Because opiates have been a part of our culture for so long, so has opiate addiction.

In the 19th century the persona of the older addicted matron using an opiate elixir of some kind was the common image associated with opiate addiction, such as that Eugene O’Neil featured in “Long Day’s Journey into Night”.

By the early 20th century heroin, in particular, originally introduced in the 1890s as a cough suppressant, along with morphine, became popular drugs to use in intravenously. This gave rise to the classic image of the “junkie”.

After World War Two, as European immigrant populations moved toward the suburbs and Hispanic and African American populations moved in, these later groups inherited the existing drug culture of these ghettos and also generated addicts of their own. Particularly popular with musicians, opiates enjoyed wide spread usage in the 1960s as the youth “drug culture” embraced all drugs that had a mind altering, mood altering or euphoric effect.

By the year 2000 nearly a million Americans were addicted to some form of opiate.

Recovering from an Addiction to Opiates

In the early part of the 20th century rehab for addiction to opiates simply meant a stint in a sanatorium. Most addicts who were sent to one usually came out and relapsed and it was then thought that opiate addiction was hopeless.

This theory was reversed following Vietnam, from which between a quarter to half of the returned troops had become addicted to heroin while in Vietnam. What was first feared as a returning epidemic of opiate addiction never materialized as the returned veterans simply kicked their habits as their environments changed.

Most recovery programs for opiate addiction has been maintenance based, such as the methadone programs or other such drugs used today. However, today it is recognized that other conditions may have influenced the use of the narcotic in the first place, such as early trauma, or a mental health issue and with proper psychological therapy opiate addicts can have their addictions expunged.

Finding the right care for your particular case of opiate addiction, or that of a loved one, can be best achieved with the help of experts in the field of addiction, such as you’ll find by calling Recovery Channel. We can help you or a loved one recover from opiate addiction treatment.

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