Opioid Addiction and Opioid Addiction Treatment FAQs: Part 1

Written by Buprenorphine Doctors

Here at Buprenorphine Doctors, we do our best to explain the relevant parts of opioid addiction and treatment. But sometimes, it helps to return to the basics. What would you (the reader) want to know?

We’re here to help you learn whatever you’d choose. That’s why we’ve put together the first half of a Frequently Asked Questions list: these are the things you should know, about all the things you should know.

What are Opioids?

These are drugs that bind to your body’s pleasure centers and cause a tumble of endorphins. Those chemicals give you the physical ecstasy (or “high”) of opioid use. Here’s the problem: opioids act strongly on your body and risk physical addiction. Opioids can be both illegal and legal (prescription) substances: heroin, fentanyl, morphine, codeine, oxycodone, and others are all examples.

Learn more about opioids through our in-depth explanation, and learn a bit about prescription opioids and the risks of taking them.

What is Opioid Addiction?

It’s physical and emotional dependency on opioids. Note the word dependence: the way these drugs work, your body’s chemistry changes so that you can’t feel pleasure without using them. In time, you won’t even feel normal without using them. If you go long enough without opioid use, you’ll experience painful withdrawal (the pain your body feels because it doesn’t have opioids’ pain relief). Opioid addiction usually means that you’ll fit your life around using opioids again, at the expense of your relationships, work, and finances.

Learn more about opioid addiction in general, about prescription opioid addiction, and how you can spot it.

What are Opioid Addiction Treatments?

Treatments is the best word for healing opioid addiction, since addiction (a disease) grips both your body and your mind. What’s the best evidence-supported method for treating opioid addiction? Medically-assisted treatment (MAT), which means a two-part process for opioid addiction treatment—the first is medication under doctors’ supervision, and the second is emotional and behavioral therapies. Remember how opioid addiction grips both your body and mind? Well, opioid addiction therapy has to heal both your body and mind also. MATs include medications like buprenorphine, naloxone, methadone, and naltrexone.

Learn more about MAT medications and therapies here, here, here, and here.

What is Buprenorphine?

It’s a prominent opioid addiction treatment used throughout MAT. Buprenorphine works at two levels to wean your body off its need for opioids, since it contains both an opioid agonist and an opioid antagonist—an agonist gives physical relief, and an antagonist works to prevent physical addiction.

Buprenorphine uses both parts because it has two MAT uses: helping you through painful withdrawal, and giving your body a resistance to opioid use after treatment. Often, patients in opioid addiction treatment will take buprenorphine for long periods after they’ve left residential treatment. These patients would take either of the two medications containing buprenorphine, Suboxone and Subutex.

Learn more about buprenorphine, Suboxone, its evidence-based benefits, and all you should know about this opioid treatment.

What is Naloxone?

It’s another opioid antagonist used in MAT, though it’s stronger than buprenorphine (some MAT prescriptions pair buprenorphine with naloxone for a stronger effect). You’ll likely encounter naloxone outside opioid addiction treatment, since it’s also a powerful antidote to opioid overdoses. Emergency first responders carry it in the medication Narcan, and this year the U.S. Surgeon General announced that everyone should carry it just in case.

Learn more about naloxone and about what it can do for opioid addiction treatment.

What are Opioid Addiction Treatment Centers?

These are the facilities that help you complete your opioid addiction treatment through MAT, though what they do and where they are will depend on a few things. For instance: is the opioid treatment center inpatient or outpatient (the first takes on residential patients, while the other just gives out prescribed medications)? How many staff does it include? Are the staff members mostly doctors, nurses, or addiction counselors? Does the opioid treatment center have a good mixture of all three?

In short, an opioid addiction treatment center is the place where opioid addiction patients receive treatment from medical professionals. You can learn more about their opioid treatment processes.

And if you need to find an opioid treatment center, visit our opioid treatment directory and see what’s closest to you.

How Can I Choose an Opioid Treatment Center?

You should start with the help of an opioid addiction doctor—they’ll help you best understand what sort of program you need for your opioid addiction. But we’ve written two general guidelines that you can keep in mind: how credible the opioid treatment center is, and how feasible it is as an option for you. Not all treatment centers present themselves truthfully to potential patients, and not all treatments cost what potential patients can afford. Be careful to find the credible opioid treatment centers that fit your treatment needs.

Learn what you can about how to choose an opioid addiction treatment center, or about what they offer to opioid addiction recovery.

What You Can Do

What’s the best part about this list of FAQs? We haven’t even finished it yet. This article only completes the first half of our FAQ, and so you can expect the next half of the piece this time next week. We have to cover the widest foundation of opioid addiction treatment basics.

And in the meantime, feel free to look into the resources we’ve already gathered. You might see them next week, but feel free to visit Buprenorphine Doctors and to read through any of the treatment or recovery content that’ll answer your questions. Better yet, if you need help finding opioid addiction treatment, visit our addiction doctors and our opioid treatment centers and find a resource near you.

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