Opioid addiction has become an epidemic in this country. From prescription pain-killers to illegal substances, including heroin, the number of addicts continues to grow. Over 2.5 million Americans are currently suffering. While there is no simple cure to opioid dependency, there are steps that can be taken towards preventing and managing the addiction.

Opioid Abuse Prevention

Preventing addiction begins with preventing potential addicts from using opioid substances. While controlling the use of illegal substances may not be possible, it is possible to manage the exposure of legal opioid pain killers. Doctors should evaluate all of their patients for warning signs of addiction before prescribing an opioid substance. If a prescription is necessary, the smallest amount and dose possible should be prescribed to lower the risk of an addiction forming.

Opioid Dependency Management

Opioid addicts now have more options than ever to help them manage their addiction. The two most commonly used medications to manage opioid dependence are:

  1. Methadone – methadone works to reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms as an addict stops using opioids. Methadone also works to lessen the effects of opioids if the addict tries to use them while taking the methadone.
  2. Buprenorphine – this medication works by avoiding withdrawal symptoms, without giving the user the positive effects of a high they get from a traditional opioid. Buprenorphine is most commonly found in
  3. Suboxone, where it is combined with another medication called Naloxone. The combination works to prevent opioid use by producing withdrawal symptoms if the addict uses.

It’s important to note that both of these management therapies need to be combined with counseling to help the addict. Addiction often stems from other psychological issues and figuring out what those are is the first step towards real recovery.

In addition to uncovering the cause of the addiction, patients will learn new coping mechanisms to use when they would typically turn to opioids. Neither of the medications used is a substitution for the opioid used by the addict. They don’t aim to get the addict high, they only work to make the recovery process more accessible and more manageable for the patient.

Nearly every state has resources available to opioid addicts to help them recover, even on a small budget. The recovery process is one that may come with setbacks and take time to achieve true sobriety, but it is possible!

Visit drugabuse.gov to learn more about opioid recovery resources in your area.