Recently the opioid epidemic has been all over the news. “The Opioid Crisis” has been a banner headline and often discussed issue plaguing the country today. How did we get here, and what can we do about it? Why are opioids so addictive, and why is this addiction getting so much attention?
Opioid medications such as Norco, Oxycontin, and others, are acknowledged to be an effective method of treating chronic pain. The New England Journal of Medicine in a 2016 article reported that opioid analgesics (pain medication) are the most commonly prescribed medication in the U.S., with 245 million prescriptions being distributed in 2014 alone. Clearly the treatment of both acute and chronic pain has, until recently, revolved around the use of opioids. While not every person with a prescription will develop an addiction, research shows that 2.5 million adults were affected with opioid addiction in 2014 (NEJM, 2016).
So here is where the problem begins. Doctors may struggle to find alternatives to treating legitimate and at times debilitating pain. At the same time, use of opioids may result in difficulty with physical dependence, tolerance, and addiction. Tolerance may be one of the more dangerous issues, as the same dose may no longer have its desired effect. This may lead to overuse of the medication and the strong possibility of overdose, which can be fatal.
It is important that the psychological components of addiction are recognized. Opiate Use Disorder as defined in the DSM-V includes symptoms such as opioids taken in larger amounts or for a longer time than was intended, occupational, social, and interpersonal difficulties, as well as a great deal of time spent in activities needed to obtain the opioid, among other issues. The scariest part is that anyone can fall into this trap.
So here we have the context of the problem. An individual is prescribed an opioid to manage pain, which after some time no longer works as well. So he or she begins to take more than the prescribed amount, spending an inordinate amount of time and energy obtaining more pills, to the detriment of other aspects of his or her life and relationships. Does this sound familiar to you? Do you or a loved one fall into this category?
If so, Main St. Psychiatry would like to help. We have initiated an opioid recovery program, with the use of Suboxone and other buprenorphine products. In this program, individuals will also receive counseling and support, in an effort to treat not only the physical symptoms of withdrawal and dependence, but also the psychological symptoms that accompany opioid addiction. Please reach out to us at 815-526-3781 for more information or to schedule an evaluation. We recognize the wide-reaching and devastating impact of opioid addiction, and believe that we can be part of the solution.
Hope starts here.
New England Journal of Medicine, 2016. Article found at: https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMra1507771