I’ve written several times about recovery from opioid addiction, but it’s a complex subject and requires a great deal of explanation. Most people now have likely heard the horror stories of addiction, overdose and death, but not so much about recovery. The horror stories sell and recovery stories don’t. There are more and more recovery stories as opioid addiction treatment improves, but there are still millions who aren’t in treatment or don’t stay in treatment. The reason opioid addiction is difficult to treat is because of the way it’s been treated in the past. Methadone programs were once the major treatment for opioid addiction. As clarification, I use the term opioid to describe all opiate-like drugs, but, technically, opioids are synthetic. It’s common now to talk about all of it, opium and opiates, as opioids.
The hardest part of recovery from opioid addiction is withdrawal. The recovery rate for opioid addiction was low for a long time because addicts couldn’t get past the withdrawal or detox. Now there”s medicine like Suboxone to help ease withdrawals. The second hurdle is to get the chemically dependent person to understand the need for group therapy and counseling. Usually, Suboxone does such a good job stopping the craving, the person doesn’t think they need further help. The problem is that addiction rewires the brain, and it takes a long time to reverse that process.
If the chemically dependent doesn’t receive some form of treatment, and doesn’t develop a long term recovery management plan, relapse is likely. There are certain triggers that set off psychological craving, and if a person doesn’t know how to deal with the overpowering desire to use again, the brain will become overloaded and the person will use opioids just to stop the madness. Addiction affects body, mind and spirit. It’s relatively easy nowadays to stop the physical craving for opioids, but spiritual emptiness an psychological turmoil are different and not so easy to make healthy and whole.
In treatment, recovery from opioid addiction is taught. The person in treatment is exposed to others who are in recovery, so they can learn from one another and support one another. Spiritual rejuvenation and psychological healing take time — recovery is about taking time to get better, understanding the addicted mind and finding ways to prevent relapse. It’s not easy, but it leads to amazing changes over time. Time is the essential for recovery from opioid addiction. There’s a saying around recovery groups- “Don’t give up before the miracle happens.”