The Danger of Overdose After Opioid Addiction Treatment
The opioid epidemic permeates so many sectors of society and public life. It’s now a health crisis, a health care crisis, a family issue and an indiscriminate plague that can besiege anyone at any time. As we all struggle to make space for this increasing problem, we scramble to find solutions. But as the epidemic unfolds, solutions must be fluid and evolving. Sometimes, it feels like there are more questions than answers. One of those questions is with regard to the rehabilitation process; what are the dangers of an overdose after initial opioid addiction treatment?
Here, we will look at what defines an opioid, some of the numbers, the realities of addiction treatment, and beyond.
What Is An Opioid?
The definition of an opioid, according to Wikipedia: a substance that acts on opioid receptors to produce a morphine-like effect. Opioids are primarily used for pain relief, including within a medical setting as anesthesia. Other medical uses include suppression of diarrhea, suppressing coughs, and injections used to perform executions in the United States. Opioids are also frequently used non-medically/recreationally for their euphoric effects.
Side effects of opioid use can include itchiness, sedation, nausea, the interruption of respiratory function, and constipation. Long-term use of opioids can result in tolerance, meaning that increased doses are necessary to achieve the same effect. Another effect is the development of a physical dependence, where abruptly discontinuing the drug leads to unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. The euphoria brought on by opioid use attracts recreational use and as recreational use escalates, an addiction typically develops.
An overdose of opioids can result in death. Also, concurrent use of opioids with other depressants like benzodiazepines depresses respiratory functions and commonly results in death. Types of opioids, according to drugabuse.gov, include heroin, morphine, codeine, OxyContin, fentanyl and tramadol.
Opioid Use: A Look At The Numbers
The statistics on opioid use are both staggering and grim; use has reached epidemic proportions and according to an article in The Washington Times, in America, there are 2.1 million people addicted to opioids. This is all over the country as no state is unscathed by the epidemic. More than 400,000 Americans have died from opioid abuse since 1999. The death toll has reached an estimated 167 people per day in the United States alone. These numbers mean that 100,000 fewer people have died from HIV/AIDS over nearly three decades than have died from opioid addiction in just two decades. In just one year, from 2016 to 2017, emergency room visits for opioid overdoses increased across all demographics: 21 percent in the most rural areas and 54 percent in the bigger cities.
Treatment Options for Opioid Addiction
While situations and solutions vary from person to person, these are the main approaches used to tackle opioid addiction, whether it is inpatient or outpatient treatment:
- Medicines: The medicines most commonly used to treat opioid misuse and/or addiction include methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone.
- Counseling and/or behavioral therapies: setting goals, dealing with setbacks, and celebrating progress.
- Group counseling: can help you feel less alone. You get a chance to hear from others who have the same challenges.
- Family counseling: includes partners, spouses, and family members who are close to you. It can help to repair and improve relationships.
- Medication-assisted therapy (MAT). This is used as part of the “all hands on deck” approach that addresses the whole patient and tries to confront all problematic dimensions: medicines, counseling, and behavioral therapies. This approach provides a better foundation and leads to higher success rates.
Dangers of Overdose After Opioid Addiction Treatment
An overdose occurs when a person consumes a toxic amount of a drug or combination of drugs. Opioids, in particular, pose a higher risk of overdose because they can depress the central nervous system and slow down breathing or stopping breathing altogether.
Once opioid addiction is treated, the rates of relapse are between 40 and 60 percent, according to drugfree.org. The hidden, additional danger is that with a relapse comes susceptibility to a fatal overdose because the tolerance level has changed now; it isn’t as high as it once was. A dose once considered regular can now be fatal. Relapse happens for a variety of reasons, but one of the major ones is a false sense of security or a belief that there is more control over the addiction. Those in recovery may have a desire to test it out. Other reasons for relapse may include the belief that “one last time can’t hurt.” It can also be the inability to cope with stress as a sober person. Or, an intentional overdose/suicide attempt.
No matter what stage of the battle you’re in, whether it’s your first attempt at treatment or your fifth, there is always a way out. The compassionate staff at SpringBoard Recovery would love to assist you on a journey to a clearer, healthier path. Give us a call today.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/epidemic/index.html
- MedlinePlus: https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/007287.htm
- Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opioid
- National Library of Medicine: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18443635/
- US National Library of Medicine: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2628209/#:~:text=Long%2Dterm%20use%20of%20opioids,untoward%20effects%20of%20these%20agents.
- National institute on Drug Abuse: https://www.drugabuse.gov/drug-topics/opioids/benzodiazepines-opioids
- National Institute on Drug Abuse: https://www.drugabuse.gov/
- The Washington Times: https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2018/dec/25/opioid-abuse-numbers-show-health-crisis-worsening/?utm_source=GOOGLE&utm_medium=cpc&utm_id=chacka&utm_campaign=TWT+-+DSA&gclid=Cj0KCQiAvJXxBRCeARIsAMSkAppgfyE50urb7MmdudwB376itOz3KJz06AU40qo1X5eXo8IbzCXdvloaAtFMEALw_wcB
- FDA: https://www.fda.gov/drugs/information-drug-class/information-about-medication-assisted-treatment-mat
- Partnership to End Addiction: https://drugfree.org/article/relapse-overdose/