What are Opioids?
Opioids are substances that bind to opioid receptors in the body and brain. Your body naturally produces opioids, but never enough to actually block severe pain, induce an extreme high or cause on overdose. Opioids are also found in the form of prescription or illicit substances. Some opioids, such as Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, or Codeine, are prescribed for the treatment of pain. If you’ve ever had surgery or an acute injury you may be familiar with how they are used. They do serve an important medical purpose when used properly. These medications act by reducing the perception of the intensity of pain or decreasing the intensity of the body’s reaction to pain.
So what happens when someone takes an opioid in addition to what the body already makes? These substances attach to receptor sites in the body, and at low to moderate doses have a pain relieving effect. This is when they are used safely and as prescribed. Some people report a rush of joy or euphoria when taking opioids, while others report intense feelings of comfort and relaxation. This feeling is different than impairment or intoxication, and is a positive feeling of well being and accomplishment or satisfaction, often higher and stronger than can be achieved without the substance. Accompanying these intense feelings is a calming effect on the respiratory system which slows the breathing rate. However, when opioids are taken in higher doses or in combination with other medications such as benzodiazepines (ex: Xanax or Ativan), accidental overdose can occur. There is a fine line between the feelings of euphoria and respiratory depression which can lead to death.
What is dependence?
When a pain medication is taken for an extended period of time the body can become physically dependent upon that medication. If stopped suddenly, the patient can experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms because their body is dependent upon the effects of the medication. Slowly and safely weaning off the medication with the help of a trained clinician can be necessary.
What is addiction?
Dependence is different from addiction. Addiction involves behavior that is out of control in regards to the medication and its use. Often, those who are addicted to a substance will make compulsive choices despite negative consequences.
How will I know it will work?
Buprenorphine is a partial opiate agonist and binds very tightly to the opiate receptors. It reduces the high euphoria experienced with other opiates with a much more reasonable level of stimulation, thus helping us to slowly and gradually wean you. It is one of the safest and most effective treatments available for opioid dependence.
Will my insurance cover my treatment?
Most insurance plans will cover treatment and medications. We actually are contracted to accept more insurances that many other clinics in our area. We will work with you and your insurance company to determine coverage. Insurance is not required. Our goal is to provide affordable, effective treatment to help you through your recovery.
Do I have to go through counseling?
Counseling and group support can be an important part of your treatment plan. It is not required, but rather encouraged. We will work with you to determine the best support for an easy, complete recovery.
Will my treatment feel private? Will my friends, family, or coworkers know?
They will know as much, or as little, as you choose to share. One of the greatest benefits of our treatment program is that you can continue to live your life while engaging in treatment. Your support system will be an important part of your recovery, but what you share will be up to you.