What Does Opiate Addiction Treatment Success Rate Boil Down To?
Successfully overcoming an opiate addiction can involve a variety of treatment options that may have varying rates of success. It is no secret that addiction to heroin and other opiates, such as oxycodone, fentanyl, hydrocodone and others, are difficult to beat. The opiate class of drugs has a profound impact on the brain, causing a flood of dopamine that causes the brain to compensate, virtually rewiring neural pathways and confounding brain chemistry.
Opiates are extremely addictive substances, and addiction rates continue to climb. The American Society of Addiction Medicine reported in 2016 that two million U.S. citizens over age 12 had a substance use disorder that involved prescription drugs and almost 600,000 that involved heroin. Of the people who try heroin, nearly a quarter of them will develop an addiction to the drug.
Withdrawal symptoms are usually the first hard evidence to the user that they have developed a dependency to the opiate. When it comes time to confront the addiction and get help, what factors will determine opiate addiction treatment success rates? How will you know what to look for in a treatment program to ensure the best outcome?
Opiate Addiction Treatment Success Rate Vary According to Goals
There are two basic approaches to heroin recovery. One is to achieve complete abstinence from opiates and the other is called harm reduction through medication management. When considering success rates of a treatment program, the type of end goal, abstinence versus medication management, must be addressed. This is because of the difficult nature of an opiate addiction that makes complete abstinence a more challenging goal, and that negatively influences success rates. These programs may use some of the opioid antagonist medications during detox to help reduce withdrawal symptoms, increasing the odds that the client will stay the course, but wean the client off of them by the end of the treatment phase.
The opiate treatment programs that utilize certain pharmaceutical medications—such as methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone—in an ongoing attempt to improve the quality of life for those with opiate substance use disorders. These drugs help the brain to gradually adapt to the absence of the abused opiate and reduce drug cravings. Because of the calming effect of these treatment medications, the client is in a better place mentally and physically to continue with ongoing psychotherapy.
Although medications to treat opiate addiction can themselves become addictive, they have helped patients sustain their recovery and thereby increased overall treatment success rates.
What Impacts Opiate Addiction Treatment Success Rate?
In addition to the improved success rates, based on high level of functioning and quality of life, from the use of treatment pharmaceuticals, other factors can influence opiate addiction treatment success rates. These factors include:
- Whether the person is active in a recovery community like A.A., N.A., or a non 12-step program. Engaging others in recovery builds social support and accountability, increasing levels of success
- Whether the individual is continuing to participate in individual psychotherapy sessions, especially cognitive behavioral therapy
- Whether the person in recovery is being treated for any co-occurring mental health disorders
- Whether the individual is employed or enrolled in academics
- Whether the person has a system in place for emotional support from family and friends
- Whether the individual is having ongoing legal problems or not
- Whether the person in recovery is participating in relaxation techniques and holistic therapies
- Whether the person is getting regular exercise and eating a nutritious diet
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