Why Is Opioid Recovery So Hard?

The opioid crisis is a huge problem in the United States. Despite the best efforts of the healthcare sector, people around the country struggle to find ways to get clean and recover. Many factors contribute to the growing opioid problem and the obstacles facing people who battle addiction. Understanding these challenges can help you navigate the road to recovery. Read more if you or a loved one are hoping to recover from addiction.

How Does Opioid Addiction Occur?

Addiction occurs when an individual is exposed to drugs or alcohol and becomes physically and psychologically dependent on the substance. For many addicts, the initial use of a drug is a positive experience, which leads to increased and repeated use.

One example of this is prescription medication for pain management. People initially take these medications as directed, but gradually take more than the recommended dose or use them more frequently than prescribed. Over time, the body builds up a tolerance to the drug, which means the individual must take larger doses to achieve the same effect. The body eventually becomes dependent on these higher doses to maintain the same level of comfort or relief.

When the person’s supply of the drug runs out, they experience severe physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms. At this point, they continue to use the drug as a way of alleviating their withdrawal symptoms, perpetuating the cycle of addiction.

What Are the Obstacles to Recovery?

Social Stigma – People who struggle with substance addiction are often stigmatized by society, which can lead to feelings of shame and low self-worth. Feeling ashamed of their addiction can make it difficult to find the motivation to pursue recovery. People may also worry that pursuing treatment will make their problems known to friends and family, which could cause further embarrassment or humiliation. This can cause many people to hide their addiction issues until they grow out of hand.

Treatment Cost – Treatment programs can be expensive, and insurance often does not cover the cost of inpatient or outpatient treatment for addiction. Aside from the cost, many people are not able to take the time off from work to recover. Some inpatient treatment programs can take several weeks, which can interfere with work and family obligations. The cost of treatment combined with the potential income loss can be a major deterrent for many people seeking addiction treatment.

Lack of Access – There are not enough drug and alcohol treatment centers available to meet the growing demand for treatment services. As a result, many people must drive long distances to reach a treatment center, which can be difficult or even impossible for those who live in remote locations. In some cases, people are unable to find a treatment program that meets their needs because the options in their area are limited, or they have limited resources available for travel.

Potential for Relapse – After completing addiction treatment, it can be difficult to maintain abstinence and avoid the urge to relapse. Unless patients develop healthy coping mechanisms to manage their cravings and overcome negative lifestyle choices, they continue to be at risk for relapse. Without a strong support system or continued care, many patients will turn to opioids after completing a treatment program when they face a challenging situation.

What are the Alternatives?

The solution to these challenges is to develop alternative treatment options for people with opioid use disorder that are more convenient and cost-effective than traditional residential treatment. For instance, there are now clinics that offer online medication-assisted treatment (MAT) plans, allowing patients to continue to work while attending treatment sessions from home. This cuts down on in-person treatment costs and allows people to maintain their privacy at the same time.

Quality MAT programs are designed to last for three months, ensuring that patients are properly treated and do not lapse back into addiction after completing the program. Drug tests are delivered directly to the patient via mail so that they can keep track of their abstinence status without having to visit testing centers or laboratories. Doctors check in with their patients online at regular intervals to assess their progress and provide ongoing support throughout the program.

Online MAT is much more flexible than a traditional residential treatment program and offers people struggling with opioid use disorder an opportunity to continue to live their lives while undergoing treatment for their substance use disorder. It provides follow-up care to ensure that patients make progress in their recovery after leaving the treatment program. Many online doctors also accept Medicaid as insurance, making the treatment much more affordable.

Aside from MAT, recovering individuals can also benefit from community-based treatment options such as support groups, behavioral therapy, and recovery coaching to help them maintain abstinence. By developing these types of programs, states can help more people suffering from opioid use disorder access the support they need to recover from their addiction. Some organizations such as community or religious centers may also offer free programs that are available to recovering individuals.

Opioid addiction is a prevalent problem in the United States. Many obstacles exist in traditional addiction treatment that make it ineffective for some people. With the development of effective alternative treatment options like online medication-assisted treatment, more people can get the help they need to overcome their substance use disorder and live a healthy and fulfilling life.

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BSAY / DEFY @ Yale