What You Should Know About Opioid Dependence and How to Beat It

Jun 01, 2024
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Opioid use disorder is not just a major problem in America, but it affects the lives of people across the globe. If you’re dealing with opioid dependence, it’s important to know how opioids work and how we can help you get free of its influence.

Drugs are used to treat medical conditions, but a variety of them when overused can be habit forming and even fatal. Drug overdose led to about 600,000 deaths worldwide in 2019 and over 100,000 in the United States in 2021. 

Many of these fatalities have been due to the misuse of opioids, many of which are initially prescribed to treat pain — but they carry the risk of dependence and many complications.

If you’re trying to cope with opioid dependence, you need to understand what it does to you and how to fight it. If you live in the Knoxville, Tennessee, area and you’re trying to fight opioid dependence, board-certified family nurse practitioner Stacey Maltman and her dedicated staff at Victory Treatment Program can help.

Understanding opioids

Also referred to as narcotics, opioids were developed to offer pain relief from things like chronic pain, postsurgical pain, chronic diarrhea, and severe coughing. They work by imitating endorphins, which are naturally occurring chemicals your body releases to reduce pain and stress. 

Several drugs are classified as opiods, such as:

  • Natural narcotics: opium, morphine, and codeine 
  • Semi-synthetic narcotics: heroin, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxycodone, oxymorphone
  • Synthetic narcotics: fentanyl, methadone, tramadol

The synthetic types of opioid are the strongest of the three groups, with fentanyl being about 100 times as strong as morphine. These medications can work either in immediate or extended-release doses. Immediate-release medications have a shorter duration of pain relief and a higher risk of withdrawal problems.

Opioid dependence and complications

A drug this powerful creates a risk of dependence, forming a dangerous habit of taking opioids not to get relief from pain, but because you don’t feel like you can live without the feeling the drug gives you. The cycle of use, pain, and need to use again creates strong reward centers in your brain to perpetuate itself. 

Worse, repeated abuse reduces the amount of endorphins it creates in your body, resulting in the same amount of an opioid becoming less effective and creating a higher tolerance level. The chemicals used in synthetic opioids also increase risk of fatalities, with street drugs containing many contaminants that can kill.

The physical dependence that comes with all of this leads to unhealthy, risky use, constant cravings, drowsiness, weight loss, routine flu like symptoms, decreased libido, decreased personal hygiene, financial problems trying to support the habit, and isolation from loved ones. 

How we can help you beat it

As with any form of drug use disorder, your problem may start out mild and worsen over time, so getting help is important as soon as symptoms start to form. We offer a range of treatments to help you shake the throes of opioid dependence, including:

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT)

This is accomplished with an injection of Vivitrol®, a once monthly, non-narcotic medication used to help people with substance use disorder reduce cravings, and prevent relapse due to opioid dependence, after detox.

Support groups

Getting support from others who are enduring your struggle and can relate is an important step in coming to terms with the effect that opioid dependence is having on your life and working to avoid going through it again. We can give you resources for meetings that can give you support, and a  chance to speak your mind about what you're going through.

Mental health referrals

We help with the medical side of treatment and offer different forms of support, but we can also refer you to experienced counselors, psychiatrists, and psychologists who can get you through the mental, emotional, and behavioral problems this illness can bring.

IV therapy

This is an additional step to help you with the effects of withdrawal and detoxification during recovery. We can customize your therapy to include things like anti-nausea and vitamin drips to reduce symptoms, regain energy, and help you detoxify.

Recovering from opioid dependence is a journey, and we’re here to make sure you don’t have to do it alone. If you’re struggling with an endless cycle of opioid use, you can beat it. Please make an appointment with Mrs. Maltman and her team at Victory Treatment Program today.