Are There Any Specific Treatments for Opioid Addiction?

Opiates have been used for recreational as well as religious purpose for millennia, dating as far back as 3400 B.C. Mesopotamia. Today, opiates exist in prescription drug form, also known as opioids, as well as in natural forms, such as opium and heroin.

Considering how addictive opioids can be, this extensive history of use has created a very real need for treatments for opioid addiction.

Opioids are synthetic formulations of natural opiates. Not surprisingly, natural opiates easily integrate within the body’s chemical system. As opioids sharing the same chemical makeup, they too can interact with the body’s natural processes in dangerous ways.

Interestingly enough, more than a few treatments for opioid addiction include opioid-based drug therapies, some of which produce varied effects. Medication-based treatments for opioid addiction work particularly well for people recovering from chronic and/or long-term drug addictions.

Opioid Addiction Effects

Opioid drugs, such as morphine, Vicodin and codeine all have a chemical makeup that easily complements the human body’s own pain management system. The body produces and uses endorphin chemicals, such as dopamine to regulate central nervous system functions. According to Pennsylvania State University, when ingested, opioids stimulate production of these same chemicals.

Once a person starts engaging in the types of compulsive drug-using behaviors that characterize addiction, pronounced chemical imbalances develop within the brain’s chemical system.

Most treatments for opioid addiction work to restore a normal chemical balance in the brain, while a few treatments work to counteract opioid effects.

Not sure if your insurance will help cover your treatment costs? Call our helpline at 844-431-5818(Who Answers?) for more information.

Treatments for Opioid Addiction

Opioid Agonists

Treatments for Opioid Addiction

Opioid agonists help restore a normal chemical balance.

The chemical imbalances left behind by chronic opiate abuse account for the persistent drug cravings and withdrawal aftereffects experienced in recovery. Opioid agonist medications stimulate the same chemical processes as opioid drugs and in the process support and strengthen the cells that secrete these chemicals, according to the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration.

These drugs help restore a normal chemical balance, which greatly reduces the degree of drug cravings and withdrawal effects experienced. Opioid agonist drugs commonly used as treatment for opioid addiction include methadone and LAMM.

Opioid Antagonists

Opioid antagonists block the cell receptor sites most affected by addictive opioids and prevent a person from experiencing the “high” effects of the drug. These drugs are commonly used as a relapse safeguard and over time, reduce compulsive drug using behaviors.

Opioid antagonists drugs used as treatments for opioid addiction include naltrexone and Vivitrol, a once-a-month injection-based version of naltrexone. Naloxone and Nalmefene, two other opioid antagonists, are commonly used in cases of overdose as these drugs expel opioid materials from affected cells and thereby reverse opioid effects.

Partial Agonists

Partial agonist drugs work in much the same way as full agonists except these drugs have a ceiling effect that prevents the drug’s effects from getting stronger once a certain dosage level is reached. As treatments for opioid addiction, partial agonists carry a lower potential for abuse and addiction than full agonist drugs.

Partial agonists may also be combined with opioid antagonists. The combined effects work to restore a normal chemical balance in the brain while counteracting the effects of possible relapse episodes.

In addition to these medications, a variety of traditional and alternative therapies are available to treat opioid addiction.

If you or someone you know are considering different treatments for opioid dependence and have more questions, or need help finding treatment that meets your needs, please feel free to call our toll-free helpline at 844-431-5818(Who Answers?) to speak with one of our addictions specialists.

the Take-Away

Learn about the common effects of opioid addiction and find out what treatment options are available.