Opiate Addiction, Abuse, and Treatment

Learn the facts on opiate addiction, abuse and treatment, including options that offer the best hope for long term recovery

Breaking the cycle of opiate addiction and abuse is difficult, but there are treatment options available that can help prevent relapse into addiction.  Opiate addiction has risen to become one of the most serious health problems facing the United States. The opiate class of medications, which encompasses morphine, codeine, fentanyl, hydrocodone (Vicodin), hydromorphone (Dilaudid), and oxycodone (OxyContin), are the most abused prescription medications in the United States. Opiate-involved deaths and deaths from drug overdoses have quadrupled since 1999, and 91 Americans now die every single day from an opiate overdose.

The difference between opiates and opioids

The terms “opiates” and “opioids” are often used interchangeably. That is because both describe drugs that affect the pain receptors in the brain; the difference is that some drugs, such as morphine and codeine, are derived from the natural opiates found in opium, while others are synthetic versions of the drugs that are entirely man-made. Synthetic opiates include fentanyl, hydrocodone, and hydromorphone. Heroin is considered a semi-synthetic opiate. All of these drugs are closely related chemically and act on users’ systems in similar ways. Addiction and abuse symptoms for any opiate or opioid analgesic are virtually identical.

Why opiate addiction is so deadly

The steep rise in opiate addiction and abuse has led to a drastic increase in opioid related deaths. The following facts on opiate and opioid addiction help to explain why the impacts of abusing these drugs are so devastating:

  • Opioid addiction often begins with a legitimate prescription from a medical doctor
  • Individuals addicted to prescription opiates are turning to heroin because it is cheaper
  • Many teens, adolescents, and athletes who have become addicted to opioids had never used illegal drugs or substances in the past
  • Patients can become addicted to opioids while following prescribing information exactly as written
  • Opioid dependence may be as high as 26% for patients using opioids for chronic non-cancer pain
  • One out of every 550 patients started on opioid therapy died of opioid-related causes an average of 2.6 years after their first opioid prescription

Treatment for opiate addiction

Opiate addiction recovery is very possible when treated. Treatment for opiate addiction begins with medically supervised detoxification. Detox from opiates generally takes at least as long as a week. Medical professionals can administer medication to mitigate the worst of the withdrawal symptoms. Behavioral therapy, group and individual counseling, and other addiction treatment strategies that have proven highly successful with other drug addictions often are not effective when dealing with opiate abuse. Many individuals addicted to opiates seem to simply be unable to stop taking the drugs.

While recovery from opiate addiction and abuse is difficult, treatment options are available that make it possible.  If you or a loved one is concerned about opiate abuse, reach out to a reputable drug treatment center.  You can call White Sands Treatment Center today at (877) 855-3470, where caring and compassionate counselors can help you take the next step towards recovery.

Opiate addiction relapse prevention

Addicted individuals who stop taking opiates after going through addiction treatment frequently relapse. For now, the most effective opiate addiction relapse prevention programs rely on the use of maintenance medication along with therapy and relapse prevention strategies. Clonodine, Nalaxone, buprenorphine, or methadone may play a part in your particular relapse prevention program.  These medications ease the cravings that come from opiate abuse without producing the euphoria that typically accompanies abuse of these drugs. These drugs may need to be administered in an ongoing basis for months or even years to prevent relapse into opiate abuse.

If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

is a proud alumni member of WhiteSands Treatment. After living a life of chaos, destruction and constant let downs, Mark was able to make a complete turnaround that sparked a new way of life. He is serious about his recovery along with helping others. At WhiteSands Treatment, we offer support to you in your homes or when you are out living in your daily lives.