Treatment For Opiate Addiction

Written by Christa Gatewood
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Opiates are central nervous system (CNS) depressants and narcotic analgesics. CNS depressants and narcotics are used to manage pain, anxiety, and sleep disorders. Because they are highly addictive, prescription opiates are also frequently abused and used non-medically. Users become addicted to these drugs just as they would to any illicit drug. In order to kick the addiction, users have to go through a rehabilitation program.

Differing Methods of Treatment for Opiate Addiction

There are two schools of thought when it comes to opiate addiction. Some experts advocate replacing one opiate for another. In the history of opiates, drugs like heroin and morphine were created for this purpose. The theory is that if you replace a more harmful drug with a similar yet less harmful drug, there will be no withdrawal symptoms. This is true, but as with the aforementioned two drugs, heroin and morphine, we later learned that those drugs could be just as harmful and equally addictive.

These days the "recovery" drug of choice is methadone. There are approximately 1,200 methadone clinics in this country and 200,000 methadone users. While methadone doesn't cause the same high as heroin, morphine or opium, it is at least as addictive as they are. The problem with this type of treatment is that the person is still addicted to a drug; it's just a different drug.

The other school of thought when it comes to opiate addiction advocates a step-down detoxification. Opiates are too addictive to be quit "cold turkey" because their withdrawal symptoms are so extreme. Because opiates are prescription drugs, addicts can be given a gradually decreased dosage in a monitored environment. Eventually the body will no longer require the drug. This is a preferred method for many because it leaves the addict drug-free.

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