The United States has been in the midst of an opioid addiction epidemic for over a decade. Heroin addiction was once limited primarily to cities and narrow segments of society. Today, addiction to a myriad of opioid substances has impacted communities from coast-to-coast. If you aren’t addicted to opiates, chances are you know someone who is or who has been impacted by opiate addiction. Fortunately, the medical field has risen to the challenge and there is a broad array of treatment options for opiate addiction now. Here is a breakdown of the choices for addiction care:
Most patients will begin treatment for opiate addiction with medical detox in an inpatient facility. It takes only five days to become addicted to opiates, so the demand for detox is great. (1)
The medical detox phase of care is designed to get a person through physical withdrawal symptoms as comfortably as possible. The opiate detox process has become both more sophisticated and more effective with time. The latest protocols involve a combination of medications. Short-term treatment with Buprenorphine is designed to directly target the most severe opiate withdrawal systems, including body aches, chills, nausea, and cravings. An array of other medications can complement it to address tertiary symptoms like anxiety and depression. During this period a patient will be assessed to develop a treatment plan. Clinicians will want a full picture of what they are dependent on, how much has been used, and for how long. It is also important to assess the patient’s overall health at this time. Any other serious health concerns must be identified and addressed. Ideally, a psychological evaluation will also be conducted during this time. Co-occurring mental health conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety will be diagnosed if present. All of this information goes towards building the most effective treatment plan possible, even if secondary issues aren’t tackled until after the detox phase.
Following the detox phase, many patients will opt to either remain at the same facility to undergo other levels of care or transfer to a facility that offers further treatment. Studies have shown markedly better outcomes and longer sobriety for people who undergo at least 28-30 days of treatment or more. (2) Depending on a person’s diagnosis, they may remain at the inpatient level for a week or more. Commonly, patients will move on to the Partial Hospitalization (PHP) phase relatively soon and may move to Intensive Outpatient (IOP) a couple of weeks after that. The length of time and levels of care varies from patient to patient. Many programs now offer a hybridized form of care where patients can receive PHP, IOP, or even Outpatient-style care while living in a sober living environment. This model provides more structure and security than attending an outpatient program while living at home possibly can. It can also be a more affordable option for many people with or without insurance.
Sober Living Environments.
Sober living homes, sometimes called ‘halfway houses’ aren’t usually thought of as a treatment option by themselves. They are, however, often an integral part of a solid treatment plan that follows medical detox and inpatient care at a medical facility. Certified and vetted sober living homes act as a bridge between treatment and a return to ordinary life. They provide a safe place to live and grow new relationships with people in recovery. More importantly, they are a safe space within which one can put new behaviors into practice. Many recovering people will choose to live in a sober living home for the duration of their PHP, IOP, and OP treatment. It’s often recommended that a recovering person lives this way for as long as a year, if possible. They can return to work or school and much of their daily life can be as it was before opiate addiction, only they have the safety of a place to live where they have accountability and structure.
If you’d like to learn more about treatment options for opiate addiction, feel free to call us at Harmony Treatment and Wellness.