Opiate Addiction: The Relationship Between the Risk Factors, Treatment, and You

In the United States, there has been a struggle against a growing opioid epidemic. Many people have suffered tremendously due to opiate misuse. The scale at which this is occurring has made the opiate problem in the United States a topic of national concern. The amount of people dying from opiate overdoses has nearly tripled since 1999 (David, 2016). These deaths often result from strong synthetic opiates such as fentanyl, contaminating the illegal drug markets and causing users to accidentally overdose (Gladden, 2017). The spike in overdoses aligns with the increased need for emergency medical services that provide life-saving assistance to patients experiencing an opiate overdose. (Cash, 2018). The best way to fight this epidemic is to address the underlying addiction of the victims and understand the triggers.

The path to addiction does not always begin with illegal drugs. One of the main driving principles behind this epidemic is the relationship between the rate of opioid prescriptions and increased opiate-related mortality (Baldwin, 2016). Research suggests that at times opiates are overprescribed in attempts to manage pain, particularly toy people subject to serious accidents and injuries. When patients use these highly addictive substances, there is a chance that they can become addicted (Van Zee, 2009). Researchers have found that many common temperaments such as anxiety can make a patient susceptible to opiate addiction (Aubry, 2013). When a patient has a natural vulnerability to addiction and he/she takes one of these opiates, the results are devastating. It is important to know yourself and to monitor everything that you put into your body, prescribed or not.

If you or a loved one do become addicted to opiates, there are many different methods to try and help overcome opiate addiction. Some opiate-addicted patients find success with psychological therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (Esmaeili et al. 2018). Psychological therapies are treatments that focus solely on a patient’s mindfulness and way of thinking. These can include anything from cognitive behavioral therapy to hypnosis. There are also drug therapy programs such as methadone clinics which try and utilize other types of drugs to help a patient with their cravings (Gandhi et al. 2012). Many interventions even use a combination of these two programs. These clinics combine mindfulness with therapy accompanying a prescription for a drug that will help with cravings in order to combat both the mental and physical aspects of opiate addiction (Ang, 2013).

It is important to understand the different methods of treatment and how they affect each opiate-addicted patient in order to ensure that they are getting the treatment that is best for them. With so many treatment options available for opiate addicts, it is important to know which methods have the highest success rate for each type of patient. Therefore, it is important to know your patient’s state of mind because mental health factors such as stress and mood (Bertz et al. 2019), in addition to lifestyle factors such as employment (Akhtar et al. 2018), can make a patient more receptive to one form of treatment than to another. Focusing on both aspects when treating patients can increase that patient’s success rate.

As a patient, if you know yourself well and know which types of treatments you respond best to, you may find more success engaging in dialogue with your provider about it as this can greatly help you overcome opiate addiction using a personalized treatment.


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