The opioid epidemic in the US is a major concern, with more than 2.5 million individuals suffering from addiction and 28,000 fatal overdoses reported by 2014. If someone you know struggles with an opiate dependency, hope is not lost! A broad spectrum of treatments exist to combat opioid abuse and provide people affected by this devastating issue a way out—with professional help one can make headway towards recovery. Let’s explore what options are available for those seeking treatment for opioid dependence.

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

For a vast majority of opioid addiction cases, medications are highly effective for managing withdrawal symptoms and curbing cravings. Combined with counseling and behavioral therapies in what is known as medically-assisted treatment (MAT), this “whole patient approach” can be truly impactful in reducing opioid use disorders. Some popular drugs used to treat such addictions include:

·         Buprenorphine (Subutex, Suboxone)

·         Methadone

·         Extended-release Naltrexone (Vivitrol)

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is not only extremely effective, but it also helps patients take fewer doses of opioids and consequently reduces the number of overdose deaths. For example, a case study in Baltimore showed that after buprenorphine was made available to people with opioid addiction, heroin overdoses fell by an impressive 37%. MAT can be used as a powerful tool for helping those who are struggling with opioid abuse and preventing fatal overdoses.

MAT has had a significant impact on reducing opioid-related criminal activity. A recent study of extended-release naltrexone, an MAT treatment for those struggling with substance abuse, found that its use led to fewer relapses and subsequently much less involvement in crime moving forward.

MAT not only allows recovering individuals to remain in therapy longer, but it is also frequently used for opioid addiction rehabilitation. Moreover, those who receive MAT demonstrate improved functioning in social scenarios.

One myth about MAT

Did you know? These three drugs, although classified as opioids themselves, are actually incredibly effective in helping to fight opioid addiction. Unlike other addictive substances, these medications help decrease cravings and withdrawal symptoms while also allowing the brain chemistry to heal itself from any damage caused by long-term use of opioids. In effect, they can rid the body completely of all traces of such deadly addictions!

Behavioral treatments

Medication is only one part of the recovery journey for opioid users. Rehab professionals provide a range of different behavioral therapies that can help to facilitate sobriety and long-term wellness. Here are some examples:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) started as a means of helping those struggling with alcohol abuse stay clean, but it soon became effective for cocaine abusers. Nowadays, CBT is successfully employed to treat all kinds of substance addiction. The primary idea behind CBT is that the use of such substances can be learned – this way, individuals undergoing therapy are taught how to recognize and adjust their maladaptive behaviors in order to effectively combat drug abuse from its roots. Furthermore, any associated issues can be resolved simultaneously.

A primary focus of CBT is instilling healthy coping mechanisms in patients. This way, if they are ever stressed or overwhelmed with negative emotions, they can manage the situation properly and avoid reverting to drugs as a solution.

In CBT, patients are instructed on how to identify their own drug cravings as well as the situations that could potentially trigger them. With this knowledge, they can be better equipped to avoid being exposed to those risks and ultimately guard against putting themselves in any predicaments associated with using drugs.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a highly successful form of therapy because the skills acquired have been proven to remain with patients long after their treatment. Studies even suggest that individuals can stay clean for years upon completion, making CBT an extremely valuable tool in recovery and healing.

Contingency Management Interventions

In this type of treatment, rehab professionals offer rewards to patients for avoiding opioids. These incentives can be in the form of cash or vouchers that become more valuable as time passes and a patient maintains drug-free status.

As a reward for staying drug-free, patients can redeem voucher incentives in the form of movie tickets, dining out experiences, or other goods and services. Each time their urine samples are tested negative for opioids, they will be rewarded with new vouchers!

Initially, the vouchers are meager in value. However, as patients continue to submit drug-free urine samples on a consistent basis, their vouchers will increase in worth. Conversely, should they receive an opioid-positive result then their voucher’s values drop back down to its lowest possible amount. An alternative incentive is cash prizes – for every negative urine sample provided by them there is potential for winning any prize between $1 and $100!

With every drug-free urine sample they have, patients are rewarded with an entry in the raffle draw to win cash prizes. Additionally, extra draws can be won for attending therapy sessions and meeting other objectives of recovery. However, just as with voucher incentives, any opioid-positive test result will reset their maximum draws back to one single entry only.

While some drug addiction experts have questioned the effectiveness of cash prize incentives due to concerns about pathological gambling, research has actually revealed that there is no evidence linking this system with increased instances of gambling. In fact, there is even potential for helping opioid abusers instead.

Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET)

MET promotes an environment that cultivates internal motivation to quit drugs. This can be likened to children who are made by their parents to eat vegetables compared with those who genuinely choose to follow a healthy diet without being prompted. Internal motivation leads patients toward faster and more effective recoveries, similar to how the latter will opt for veggies even in absence of parental admonishments; while the former would just not if they’re left unsupervised!

MET therapy encourages patients to express self-motivating words in order to give them the desire and will power needed to maintain a drug-free lifestyle. Therapists further support their clients by providing healthy coping strategies, helping plan changes, and continuously encouraging commitment throughout multiple sessions. With consistent motivation from therapists, MET provides an effective solution for many individuals struggling with addiction issues.

Rather than requiring patient to follow a linear recovery process, MET therapists endeavor to stimulate their clients into taking the initiative in their own healing.

MET has been shown to be most successful in treating alcohol addiction, however it can still prove beneficial for users of other substances like opioids. While MET is effective in motivating opioid addicts to seek treatment, it requires supplementary therapies if the goal is to cease substance use altogether. As a result, combining MET with additional treatments proves critical when dealing with opioid addiction.