Opiate Withdrawal

Opiate Withdrawal

It was established in 2008 that in the past year, approximately 282,000 people above the age of 12 were dependent on or abused heroin. Additionally, 1,716,000 people over the age of 12 were dependent on or abused pain relievers.

Opiate withdrawal can be a miserable experience, with symptoms including agitation, muscle aches, vomiting, and extreme discomfort. The symptoms usually subside after about a week, but for some they could persist for several months. Individuals may also experience craving for the drug for years after withdrawal.

Two medications are approved for use with opioid addiction. Methadone and buprenorphine are commonly offered to offset the effects of opioid withdrawal. Only 8 percent of all substance abuse treatment facilities offer this kind of treatment.

In order to offer methadone or buprenorphine to combat opioid withdrawal symptoms, the facility must be a certified Opioid Treatment Program (OTP). Individual physicians may also enroll in specialized training to prescribe buprenorphine addiction products in their practices.

According to a recent survey by the National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services, facilities that specialized only in opioid treatment are more likely than other types of treatment centers to be operated by a private for-profit organization (92.9 percent versus 83.3 percent).

Most OTPs are located in a metropolitan area, with 44.8 percent of those specializing only in opioid treatment located in a large central metropolitan area.

According to the survey, facilities that specialized only in opioid treatment were also more likely to focus specifically on substance abuse, instead of a mix of substance abuse and mental health treatment.

Counseling is an important component of recovering from an opioid addiction and getting past withdrawal symptoms to avoid a relapse. Almost all of OTPs (99.6 percent) specializing in opioid treatment provided individual counseling to their clients. The most used types of therapy were substance abuse counseling and relapse prevention.

Facilities offer a variety of options for payment. Almost all OTPs accept cash or self payment, but those specializing specifically in OTP are less likely to accept other types of payment or have sliding fee scales or free treatments for those who cannot pay.

It is clear from the information gathered in the survey that facilities specializing only in OTPs may be limited in the facets of treatment they can offer clients who struggle in more than one area of substance abuse or mental disorders.

It is very helpful for healthcare providers and counselors to have the information from the survey so that they are informed about the many types of care available. With this information, referrals can be made to ensure the best possible fit for those undergoing the uncomfortable process of opioid withdrawal.

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