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Opioid Addiction Treatment in Florida

Feb 9


Opioids vs Opiates

The meteoric rise in deaths from heroin overdoses and prescription opioid overdoses since 2019 has made opioid addiction the focus of lots of attention. In 2020, synthetic opioid overdoses increased by more than 54% compared to the previous year. With all the talk about an opioid addiction epidemic, it is important to understand the difference between opiates and opioids – although they are occasionally (incorrectly) used interchangeably.

Opiates are opium alkaloids that are naturally present in the opium poppy plant. Morphine and codeine are two examples of opiates. Opioids are a broader class of drugs that includes opiates as well as semi-synthetic derivatives and fully synthetic substances that are similar in chemical structure to opiates and have similar analgesic (pain-relieving) properties. Drugs like hydrocodone (Vicodin), hydromorphone (Dilaudid), oxydocone (Oxycontin and Percocet), and buprenorphine (Suboxone and Subutex) are all semi-synthetic opioids. Drugs like fentanyl, methadone, and loperamide are fully synthetic opioids. Tramadol is actually a synthetic opioid as well.

So, what is heroin? Heroin is a semi-synthetic opioid derived from morphine that is highly addictive and is illegal in the United States. When bought on the street, heroin comes as either black tar heroin or powder heroin (known in the 1970’s and 1980’s as China white heroin) depending on the region. Black tar heroin is typically a black or dark brown sticky substance that can sometimes look like coal. It’s consistency makes it difficult to snort, so it is typically used by people who prefer injecting or smoking heroin. Powder heroin is usually a fine white or tan powder that comes in small plastic bags, capsules, or wax bags called stamps.

Heroin Street Names

Common heroin street names include: dope, diesel, boy, horse, smack, junk, tar, brown, dog food, train, and mud. When buying heroin, depending on the region users may request a specific quantity by asking for a point, cap, bundle, or finger.

Opioid Effects

Medical & recreational effects

Opioids are sought after by recreational users mostly for their euphoric effects. Because of their analgesic (pain-killing) and anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) properties they are prescribed by many doctors to alleviate pain. More powerful opioids like fentanyl also have sedating effects which make them useful for anesthesia in a medical/surgical setting. Opioid drugs produce these effects by binding to opioid receptors in the brain that are normally activated by chemicals naturally produced in the body to control pain and reward. Opioids also produce many unwanted side effects though.

Opioid side effects

Opioid side effects include:

  • dizziness
  • drowsiness
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • constipation
  • physical dependence
  • tolerance
  • itchiness
  • respiratory depression

Opioid Overdoses

Signs of overdose include shallow breathing, blue or purple lips or skin, and confusion or unresponsiveness. If you or a loved one are overdosing on opioids, call an ambulance immediately. If you have Narcan, use it as directed on the packaging.

Opiate Withdrawal

Regular use of opioids can result in physical dependence on opioids. Physical dependence means that when a user stops taking opioids they experience withdrawal. Withdrawal symptoms are defined as the unpleasant physical reaction that accompanies the process of ceasing to take an addictive drug. Opioid withdrawal includes both physical symptoms and psychological symptoms, which makes getting off these drugs extremely difficult. These symptoms result from the body adapting to the regular presence of opioids by reducing the production of natural opioids.

How long does opioid withdrawal last? The duration of withdrawal varies by specific opioid. Shorter acting opioids like heroin or fentanyl have a more rapid opioid withdrawal timeline. Withdrawal symptoms usually start to set in within 8-24 hours of the last use, and peak between 48 and 72 hours. The most noticeable physical symptoms of heroin withdrawal typically only last 4-10 days. Longer acting opioids like methadone and buprenorphine have a longer opioid withdrawal timeline, with noticeable symptoms lasting almost a month. For all opioids, psychological symptoms, especially insomnia, can take much longer to completely go away. Seeking medical attention at a specialized opiate detox center can reduce the time and intesity of withdrawal symptoms. 

Opiate Detox

As discussed earlier, different opioids have different detox timelines. For this reason, heroin detox compared to other opiates can be shorter but more intense. Many opioid users will try to detox themselves using home remedies for opiate withdrawal. One common way people will try to detox from opioids is by consuming large quantities of the non-psychoactive opioid loperamide, which is sold over the counter as a diarrhea medication. Others will turn to legal opioids like kratom for opiate withdrawal. While kratom may help with the discomfort of opioid withdrawal, it doesn’t help for opioid addiction as it is simply replacing one addictive substance with another.

In a medically-supervised opioid detox center, medical professionals treat opioid withdrawal symptoms with opioid antagonists like naloxone and partial agonists like buprenorphine. Drugs like suboxone that combine these two classes help to control withdrawal symptoms while blocking opiates from producing a high. These drugs help to control cravings and when administered properly, help wean opioid dependent patients down safely and comfortably. Suboxone will only block opiates for several hours to several days depending on the amount accumulated in the body, so without the structure and support of a medical detox center, relapse is likely. Many opioid addicts will purchase these drugs on the street to try to detox from heroin at home, but this method rarely produces any kind of long-term recovery.

At an inpatient heroin detox, patients not only receive opioid replacement medication like Suboxone, but also receive non-narcotic medications to minimize remaining withdrawal symptoms. They will also sometimes be put on short-term or long-term psychiatric medication to help ease the transition back to a healthy normal life. In addition, detox center addiction programs include therapy and counseling to begin addressing underlying mental health factors that contribute to opioid use disorder. 

Opiate Addiction Treatment in Florida

Once a person has finished detoxing from opioids, they still need help for addiction. Fads like taking ibogaine for opiate addiction are not sustainable – there is no magic bullet. Relapse rates among opioid addicts are higher than relapse rates for any other drug addictions, including alcohol. One particularly grim study suggested that opiate addiction recovery statistics show less than 1 in 10 recovering opioid addicts will stay sober for more than a year with more than half relapsing within 1 week.

However, studies have also shown that completing an inpatient addiction treatment program do reduce the chance of relapse, with longer stays in treatment providing better results. This isn’t surprising when you consider all of the therapeutic benefits of opioid addiction treatment. Patients in a treatment program receive individual therapy, group therapy, reprogramming efforts like cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavioral therapy, and adjustment to psychiatric medications for things like depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. Many addiction treatment programs now also offer long-term buprenorphine treatment for opioid addiction. For patients who have relapsed many times before, this kind of opioid replacement therapy can be very effective. If you or a loved one need heroin addiction help or opioid addiction help, 1 Solution Detox is available to answer any questions and assist in the start to addiction recovery.

Give us a call to learn more about our opioid detox center in Palm Beach

1 Solution Detox

2901 Broadway, West Palm Beach, FL 33407