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Why Opioid Addiction Treatments Should Follow a Dual Approach: Physical and Psychological

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More and more Americans become addicted to pain-relieving drugs like morphine, codeine, oxycodone, and hydrocodone. As they seek and receive help, it becomes apparent which opioid rehab programs work and which do not.

The results available so far suggest that the key to successfully treating opioid addiction is following a dual approach: physical and psychological. Otherwise put, patients treated by multidisciplinary teams, benefitting not only from medication but also from therapy are more likely to recover.

They are also less likely to relapse than their peers receiving medical assistance alone. This becomes apparent when looking at how opioid addiction affects the body and mind. We will cover the basics in the following lines.

How Opioid Addiction Affects the Body and Mind

As mentioned above, opioids are often used to relieve pain. When taken in high doses or over long periods of time, the body adjusts to them and develops tolerance. Obtaining the same results requires a higher dose or more frequent administration.

Those who do not increase the dosage, the frequency, or stop taking opioids develop withdrawal symptoms. Their intensity varies according to case specifics but they can severely reduce a person’s ability to carry on with their daily routine.

Most addicts will convince themselves that they need the opioids in order to continue functioning normally, to keep withdrawal symptoms under control. Some will deny their addiction, others will justify it, and quite a few will not care about anyone or anything.

For many, the drugs represent a way to free themselves from their fears and inhibitions, to forget their worries and problems. They will start craving it not only physically but also mentally.

It takes an experienced psychologist and long hours of therapy to help them understand what is going on. They need to acknowledge their addiction and its harmful effects. They need to want and develop the strength to fight for their own recovery.

This is especially difficult, considering that most opioid addiction cases involve complicated family relationships and a huge emotional load. Not only the addict seeking recovery but also their loved ones need to come to terms with the situation and learn to work together in order to achieve their goal. This is made possible through individual therapy and family counselling.

Many opioid addicts also tend to isolate themselves from the world. Some feeling that no one will understand and support them. Others fear judgment and resentment. There are also people who find it difficult to talk about their problems. Group therapy helps solve all these issues.

It shows the addict that they are not alone and enables them to share and empathize with others. It builds a support network in which defective society members learn to work together and support one another through rehabilitation and reintegration.

These are all issues that medication alone can never solve. And therapy can enhance the effects of medication in other fields as well. For example, it can help with any or all of the following:

  • Pain management – it is pain that drives people to opioids. Psychologists can help their patients manage pain, function well despite it, improve their sleep and their overall quality of life.
  • Uncovering and treating co-occurring conditions. Opioid addiction is often only one of the problems the patient faces. Many will also battle depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, or some other condition that therapy can help treat.
  • Addressing drug use disorder. Psychologists can help patients understand the reasons they might have started misusing drugs and identify common triggers that drive them to continue misusing them. They can also help patients develop strategies to change or avoid the places and experiences that might act as triggers. Psychologists can also help people develop skills to help them feel more in control of their lives and decisions.

And therapy helps relieve stress and avoid relapses. Many recovering addicts feel overwhelmed by the pressure of returning to normal life, by work stress, by the family and financial problems they have caused.

Therapy helps them relax and find the strength and solutions they need in order to continue and not relapse. Of course, the best results are obtained by combining medication and different forms of therapy in a specialized reputable rehabilitation centre.

Discover the Complex and Effective Opioid Rehab Programs at Asheville Recovery Center!

Asheville Recovery Center is one of the few facilities in North Carolina that understands the importance of psychological therapy. Our team includes some of the best psychologists in the region and our patients benefit from the highest level of psychological and medical care. You and your loved ones can benefit from all these as well on your path to recovery. Schedule a free consultation to learn more about our opioid rehab programs!