Facts About Opiate Addiction and Treatment
by Dr. Andre Waismann
They are centuries old and have been traditionally used for pain management. The drugs, as with most other drugs, were originally intended to stay in the medical community. However, their popularity amongst recreational users has increased dramatically since their introduction.
Opiates are now among the most abused drugs in the entire world. Learning a few facts about opiate addiction and treatment will help communities and individuals deal with the issue, instead of sweeping it under a rug.
There are only a few opiates used in the medical field for pain management: morphine and codeine. This group, however, also contains heroin and opium, followed closely by a few synthetic varieties. The synthetics are sometimes used for pain treatment or to help opiate addicts. In the United States alone, there are nearly 2.5 million users of opiates over age 12.
Many doctors believe opiate addiction stems from a central nervous system disorder. This disorder develops with continuous opiate use. The natural painkillers in the body (endorphins) stop working when a person uses opiates for an extended period of time. Eventually, the brain stops making endorphins because the body is receiving the resource from without.
In individuals who are addicted, the brain receptors will increase gradually. The result is an increase in the need for the drug. As drug tolerance also builds up, the addict eventually needs increasing amounts to prevent the symptoms of withdrawal and to maintain feelings of euphoria; the root of their addiction.
Opiate addicts often exhibit severe mood swings as well as noticeable behavior changes. The drug will present with any of the following side effects:
- Euphoria followed by depression
- Skewed judgement
- Rapid heartbeat
- Slurred speech
- Diminished coordination
- No concentration
Immediately after taking the drugs, addicts will usually exhibit increased body temperature, euphoria, heavy limbs and a dry mouth. The user also alternates between drowsy and wakeful states and cannot participate normally.
The withdrawal from opiates is very painful. Some cases, it has even been deadly, especially for those who are already in poor health. This is why the ANR method has been designed to avoid the painful effects of withdrawal so that opiate addicts can be treated successfully without the fear of side effects.
For patients who choose another path of treatment other than ANR, they can expect withdrawal symptoms to last a week (this is for an otherwise healthy individual) to 10 days for a short acting opiate dependency and up to a month for a long acting opiate dependent. These withdrawal symptoms, which do not affect patients of the ANR method, include:
- Cold flashes
Opiate addicts are typically hospitalized in substance abuse treatment facilities for treatment. The ANR staff treats their patients in two clinics; one in Ashkelon, Israel and the other in Interlaken, Switzerland.
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