Addiction is a condition characterized by repeated, compulsive seeking and use of drugs, alcohol or similar substances despite adverse social, mental, and physical consequences. It is usually accompanied by psychological and physical dependence on the abused substance and the appearance of withdrawal symptoms when the addictive substance is rapidly decreased or nonexistent.
A person gets locked into addiction through a combination of three factors: Guilt, depression and cravings. These factors, unrelieved, create enormous pressure that can drive a person back into drug or alcohol use when they try to quit, unless they get help.
No one wants to be an addict. No matter what an addict says, deep in his or her heart is a wish to live clean and sober again. A person may realize the damage they are doing and wish to get clean and sober, but not have the strength to overcome the guilt, depression and cravings created by the ongoing substance abuse. But there is another scenario where this reversal can occur. An addicted person generally feels that the only way she can function or feel normal or the only way she can feel anything good in life is to be high. In a desperate attempt to continue to take addictive substances, she may try to manipulate those around her and tell them whatever they want to hear, just so they leave her alone. But even this person, if she could be completely honest, would prefer to be clean and sober again.
When addictive substances are taken repeatedly, the body develops a tolerance and needs greater amounts to get the same effect. As dosages are increased, the body begins to depend on these drugs to replace natural chemicals the body would normally produce. As this pattern repeats over time, the body and mind of the person begin to be locked into an addictive pattern. The body will crave the drugs if they are missing and withdrawal symptoms will kick in. The person will begin to suffer from depression, exhaustion, anxiety and similar conditions if they don’t have the addictive substances. This change can happen very quickly, as in the case of oxycodone, crack cocaine, methamphetamine or Ecstasy, or it can be slower, as is often the case with alcohol or marijuana.
When a person becomes trapped in addiction, it is as though the addiction makes decisions instead of them. For an addicted person, the need for drugs or alcohol is like the worst hunger they ever experienced and all they can think about is getting the substance they crave. It seems like life itself depends on getting the drug they need and using it. This is why an addicted person can ignore or abuse his or her own loved ones; they are not in control, the addiction is.
One of a person’s qualities that is routinely lost during addiction is one’s personal integrity. It’s like the addiction takes over and forces decisions and actions that the person themselves would never have committed when not addicted. Without effectively addressing and remedying this lost integrity, addiction treatment can fail. Addiction recovery must result in a reduction or elimination of cravings, a restoration of self-esteem and integrity, and an alleviation of depression, in order to have a lasting benefit.
If you or someone you know is dependent on opioids and suffers from withdrawals if not taken, they need to come and see us. Opioid addiction is a chronic disease and a medical condition that someone deals with for a lifetime, much like heart disease or diabetes. Unfortunately, it cannot be cured, but it can be managed.
Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) is the use of medications, in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies, to provide a “whole-patient” approach to the treatment of substance use disorders.
The FDA has approved several different medications to treat opioid addiction and alcohol dependence. A common misconception associated with MAT is that it substitutes one drug for another. Instead, these medications relieve the withdrawal symptoms and psychological cravings that cause chemical imbalances in the body. MAT programs provide a safe and controlled level of medication to overcome the use of an abused opioid? And research has shown that when provided at the proper dose, medications used in MAT have no adverse effects on a person’s intelligence, mental capability, physical functioning, or employabilityNew Start Clinics uses buprenorphine (Suboxone) to treat opioid dependence and addiction to short-acting opioids such as heroin, morphine, and codeine, as well as semi-synthetic opioids like oxycodone and hydrocodone.
There are no time limits for treatment with this medication. The length of therapy is determined by the patient and provider. If the patient and provider agree that the time is right for a medical taper, s/he will slowly lower the dose, taking care to minimize withdrawal symptoms. If at any time the patient feels at risk for relapse during a taper, the provider should be informed immediately.
New Start Clinics treatment program is all out-patient and voluntary. Patients are scheduled for an initial intake where they will be given a comprehensive substance dependence assessment, as well as an evaluation of mental status and physical exam.
Buprenorphine treatment happens in three phases:
The Induction Phase is the medically monitored startup of buprenorphine treatment. The medication is administered when a person with an opioid dependency has abstained from using opioids for 12 to 24 hours and is in the early stages of opioid withdrawal. It is important to note that buprenorphine can bring on acute withdrawal for patients who are not in the early stages of withdrawal and who have other opioids in their bloodstream.
The Stabilization Phase begins after a patient has discontinued or greatly reduced their misuse of the problem drug, no longer has cravings, and experiences few, if any, side effects. The buprenorphine dose may need to be adjusted during this phase. Because of the long-acting agent of buprenorphine, once patients have been stabilized, they can sometimes switch to alternate-day dosing instead of dosing every day. During this phase, the patient will work on treatment goals with his/her provider.
The Maintenance Phase occurs when a patient is doing well on a steady dose of buprenorphine. The length of time of the maintenance phase is tailored to each patient.
Frequent visits are essential in order to ensure the safety of the patient and will be determined by the prescribing provider. Random urine drug screens are also a treatment requirement.