Is Opiate Addiction Treatment Making a Sincere Effort at Curing Opiate Addiction?

When you are an opiate addiction, you can’t fully understand the experience from the provider’s point of view. You can research the methods they use and their general philosophy on treatment, but you are looking to the experience as a person who needs to be helped by it and not as a person offering the help. These differing viewpoints often cause confusion about what opiate addiction treatment does and does not do. You may expect certain things and those may not at all align with the goals established by the center’s staff.

Even if you know that there is not a current sure for addiction, you may still want the reassurance that opiate addiction treatment programs are working on curing opiate addiction. You may not feel fully comforted by the reality.

Why Isn’t There a Cure for Opiate Addiction Already?

As you may know, addiction is considered, by the experts at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, to be a “chronic, relapsing brain disease.” This means it is part of a class of diseases that are:

  • Long-term (often lasting for the entire duration of the sufferer’s life)
  • Unable to be vaccinated against
  • Unable to be cured with medication

There is not a current cure because curing opiate addiction isn’t something that seems possible.

Does That Mean No One Is Even Trying?

No. Despite the low likelihood that a cure can be developed, the opiate epidemic is significant enough to warrant research into cures. These are not, however, being performed by opiate addiction treatment centers. This type of research is done through research universities and government agencies. They are not included in rehab programs until their success has been completely verified.

Without a Cure, Can Opiate Addiction Treatment Be Successful?

It depends on what you consider a success. If you are looking to be completely addiction free for the remainder of your life when you walk out of treatment, then you won’t succeed. If, however, you view success as a cessation of drug use and a return to a stable, healthy role in your family, job, and community, then you can succeed.

Are the Medications Used in Opiate Addiction Treatment for Curing Opiate Addiction?

People are generally familiar with the role of medications in the treatment of opiate addiction. It is rare for people to make it through detox without being given an opiate addiction specific medication, and treatments often rely heavily on the continued use of medications. But, just because people know about the medications doesn’t mean they know how they are used. Many people think their purpose is curing opiate addiction.

What Medications Are Used in Opiate Addiction Treatment?

There are three categories of medication used to treat opiate addiction. These relate to the way these medications affect the opiate receptors in the user’s brain and body. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, these are:

  • Antagonists (naltrexone): these block the receptors, preventing the user from getting high on opiates while taking the medication
  • Agonists (methadone): these activate opiate receptors, causing the user’s need to use to be satisfied
  • Partial agonists (buprenorphine): these also activate opiate receptors, but with a smaller response than agonists

Why Are These Medications Used?

Each type of medication works in a different manner, which is why they have different treatment roles as well. The primary uses are to:

  • Eliminate withdrawal symptoms
  • Ease opiate cravings
  • Prevent users from getting high on opiates

Often, medications perform more than one of these roles. For instance, methadone alleviates withdrawals and cravings. And, Suboxone (a blend of naloxone and buprenorphine) relieves drug cravings and thwarts users attempts to get high.

Why Aren’t They Being Used to Cure Opiate Addiction?

These medications aren’t curing opiate addiction in opiate addiction treatment because current evidence points to the impossibility of that task. Addiction is both chronic and relapsing. That makes it very similar to arthritis, asthma, Crohn’s disease, and diabetes. Though all of these diseases can be treated or managed, none can be cured. So, though an asthmatic would be given an inhaler to keep their airways open, there would be no expectation that it would cure the disease.

What Do You Mean the Point of Opiate Addiction Treatment Isn’t Curing Opiate Addiction?

When you finally consider opiate addiction treatment, you will be making the first step down a path that has the potential to forever change your life for the better. At this point, you probably have a lot of treatment expectations and very little solid information about what happens once you enter rehab. It would not be unusual to think curing opiate addiction is what happens in treatment. However, that isn’t the case and it is good that you understand that, as it will allow you to set and reach realistic goals in opiate addiction treatment.

Why Does Setting Realistic Goals Matter?

Opiate addiction treatment takes a lot of hard work on your part. You will have spent so much time hiding inside of your drug use that living without the effects of substance abuse and having to confront the issues and attitudes that contribute to your negative behavior will take a lot out of you. Often, people decide that they cannot take it and they quit, destroying their chances of recovery.

Imagine putting all of that energy into treatment and thinking that you would be cured at the end of it. How disappointed would you be to find out that wasn’t the case? And, how invested could you remain in recovery if you felt lied to? It would be very likely that you would abandon rehab and recovery and return to the life that you know.

If Curing Opiate Addiction Isn’t the Point, What Is?

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the goals of treatment are to:

  • Stop drug use
  • “Return people to productive functioning in the family, workplace, and community”

And, research indicated these goals are commonly achieved. Data gathered by tracking people in treatment for lengthy periods indicates that those who get into and remain in rehab:

  • Stop using drugs
  • Lessen any criminal activity
  • “Improve their occupational, social, and psychological functioning”

What Will Determine My Success in Opiate Addiction Treatment?

There isn’t a type of rehab that will make all patients into successes like best marijuana treatment rehab. You need to consider the nature and extent of your problems, the suitability of the treatment and the services it provides, and the quality of any interactions you have with your treatment providers. Consider your choice carefully and, when you commit, give it your all.

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