Opiate addiction affects millions of Americans each year. A wide-reaching class of drugs including “hard” street drugs such as heroin and morphine as well as prescription drugs such as OxyContin, Demerol and Fenanyl, opiates are notoriously difficult to kick. A 2006 drug survey found that more than 500,000 Americans had used heroin within the last 12 months, while nearly 2.5 million individuals across the country had engaged in prescription opiate abuse in 2007 alone.
When addiction to opiates persists, the results can be as harrowing as the statistics on opiate abuse. The Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) reported that heroin and morphine were involved in more than 50 percent of 1999’s drug-related deaths in the United States, and methadone alone was responsible for nearly 4,5000 deaths in the nation between 2000 and 2005.
Pervasiveness of Opiate Addiction
Opiate addiction spans social boundaries of age, race, education and geography. Virtually every state across the US has struggled with both street sales and prescription abuse of opiates in the last 10 years.
In fact, just under 10 percent of Americans have abused opiates at some point in their lives, with more than one in 10 12th graders having taken Vicodin without a physician’s prescription. Heroin use alone began at an average age of only 21 years of age according to a 1998 study, with the average habit costing addicted individuals between $150 and $200 each day.
Opiate Detoxification and Addiction Treatment
Due to opiates’ rapidly developing tolerance, strong effects on the brain’s natural chemistry and severe withdrawal symptoms, many individuals attempting to detoxify without professional help often fail at recovery before they start. However, when opiate addiction has developed in an individual, addiction treatment at a drug rehabilitation facility can help them break free of the physical and mental bonds of habitual drug use.
Medical detoxification methods have become popular for opiate addiction treatment, as well – most often, employing the use of methadone to reduce withdrawal symptoms or dispensing heavy sedatives to allow addicted individuals to “rapidly detox” as they sleep.
However, drug-based solutions such as methadone treatment can sometimes engender a secondary addiction to the treating drug itself, while rapid detoxification can lead to relapse for users who do not experience the physical process of overcoming withdrawal symptoms. The majority of opiate addiction treatment centers will instead use natural methods of detoxification to help users through the withdrawal phase of recovery, employing the use of herbal remedies, over-the-counter medication, psychiatric care and addiction counseling in conjunction with lifestyle management to aid recovery.