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January 31, 2024

Breaking Free: Overcoming Opiate Dependence and Reclaiming Control


Opiate addiction is an ongoing problem. In 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that more than 75% of the nearly 107,000 drug overdose deaths that year involved an opioid. Additionally, the CDC reports that from 2020 to 2021, opioid-involved death rates increased by more than 15%, and synthetic opioid-involved death rates (excluding methadone) increased by more than 22%. As a result of the severity of opiate addiction, anyone struggling with opiate addiction should seek help immediately and take the necessary steps to get off opiates.

Why Are Opiates So Addictive?

Opiates are highly addictive due to their ability to activate the brain's reward system by binding to opioid receptors, particularly in areas associated with pleasure and reinforcement. The release of dopamine, triggered by opiate use, creates a powerful sense of euphoria and pain relief, reinforcing the desire to continue taking the drug. Tolerance development, physical dependence, and the fear of withdrawal further contribute to the cycle of addiction.

Additionally, chronic use of opiates can rewrite neural pathways, making it difficult for individuals to control impulses, which contributes to compulsive drug-seeking behavior. Psychological factors, including the desire to cope with stress or emotional pain, and social factors, such as accessibility and societal attitudes, also play crucial roles in the development of opiate addiction. Overall, the combination of these physiological, psychological, and social factors makes opiates particularly addictive.

Practical & Effective Strategies To Get Off Opiates

The following strategies and approaches are practical and effective ways to break free from opiate dependence.

1. Acknowledge the Problem: The first step in getting off opiates is to recognize the problem. Denial can be a significant barrier to recovery. Recognizing the signs of opioid addiction can help combat denial. Common signs include needing higher doses of opiates over time to achieve the same effects and withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, muscle pain, and anxiety. Other signs include neglecting responsibilities, social withdrawal, mood swings, poor personal hygiene, and an inability to control opiate use despite negative consequences.

2. Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT): Medication-assisted treatment combines counseling and behavioral therapies with medications like methadone, buprenorphine, or naltrexone to reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms. MAT can be a practical approach for long-term recovery and is a treatment approach we are happy to offer.

3. Inpatient or Outpatient Rehabilitation: Inpatient rehab provides a highly structured environment where the person lives at a treatment facility. Outpatient rehab allows someone to receive treatment while continuing to live at home. Here at Meta, we provide various stages of outpatient rehabilitation programs.

4. Detoxification: Detox is the process of eliminating opiates from the person’s system. It can be done in an inpatient or outpatient setting and should be supervised by medical professionals to ensure safety and comfort during withdrawal.

5. Therapy and Counseling: Therapy, including individual, group, and family counseling, can help address the emotional and psychological aspects of addiction. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and contingency management are effective methods to learn coping strategies and prevent relapse. Our clinical services include CBT, DBT, MAT, and peer support groups.

6. Lifestyle Changes: Make positive lifestyle changes to reduce triggers and cravings. This includes adopting a healthy diet, exercising regularly, getting adequate sleep, and managing stress through relaxation techniques like meditation and yoga.

7. Avoid Triggers: Identify and avoid situations, people, or places that trigger opiate cravings. This may involve the individual distancing themself from negative influences or changing their social circle significantly.

8. Develop a Relapse Prevention Plan: Work with a therapist or counselor to create a comprehensive relapse plan. This plan should include strategies for dealing with cravings and coping with high-risk situations.

9. Ongoing Aftercare: Once a treatment program is completed, continue with aftercare services such as counseling, support groups, and regular medical check-ups to maintain recovery. Additionally, individuals should refrain from using any mood-altering substances, including alcohol, as they can increase the risk of relapse.

10. Develop a Healthy Support System and Celebrate Milestones. Develop relationships that support recovery and celebrate milestones and achievements in recovery. Recognize the hard work and dedication to a healthier, drug-free life.

11. Never Give Up: Recovery can be challenging, but it is possible. Never lose hope, and remember that many people have successfully overcome opiate addiction. Keep pushing forward, and don't give up.

Don’t Let Opiates Take Over Your Life

While getting off opiates is a challenging journey, it can lead to a healthier, more fulfilling life. Seek professional help, build a strong support network, and implement various strategies to address the physical, psychological, and emotional aspects of addiction. Remember that recovery is a process, and setbacks are a part of that journey. Stay committed, practice self-compassion, and take it one step at a time. With the proper support and determination, individuals can break free from opiate dependence and build a brighter future. Contact us today to learn more about our treatment programs and clinical support.