3 Actionable Tips to Overcome Opioid Addiction

Addiction to opioids is a growing problem not only in the United States but worldwide. Opioid use disorder is believed to affect more than 16 million people worldwide. In the United States alone, over 2.1 million people are affected by opioid use disorder. Every year, over 120,000 deaths are attributed to opioids worldwide. 

Commonly abused opioids are oxycodone, fentanyl, codeine, morphine, and heroin. Opioid addiction is concerning because it affects not only the health of the person with an addiction, but also their career, relationships, and overall quality of life. 

Fortunately, overcoming opioid addiction is possible if you’re equipped with the right strategies. Here, we’ll share a few tips to help you give up opioids safely. 

#1 Follow the Taper Technique 

Opioid medicines need to be stopped as soon as possible, or they might lead to severe health issues. If you’ve been taking opiates for seven to ten days or more than that, it’s time to quit them. You need to stop soon but slowly. 

Weaning off opiates completely will cause withdrawal symptoms. This might cause intense cravings, and you may even get physically ill. You shouldn’t do that.  

One effective, though not-so-easy, way to overcome opioid addiction is to follow the taper technique. A slow decrease in the dose of drugs over time to minimize the risk of withdrawal symptoms is known as tapering. 

However, you shouldn’t try tapering off opioids yourself. It can be dangerous. Consulting a healthcare provider is crucial for your safety. Your healthcare provider will decrease your dosage of opioids by 10% to 25% every one to three weeks. This will decrease your tolerance of the drug. Once the lowest dose is reached, the medical professional will reduce the frequency of use before stopping it completely. 

#2 Try Prescription Medications

Opioids are addictive, and withdrawal symptoms might make tapering off them hard.

While the symptoms aren’t life-threatening, managing them is difficult. Prescription medications can help manage the withdrawal symptoms, which can make overcoming opioids easy. Methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone are three common medications for treating opioid addiction. 

Methadone helps relieve withdrawal symptoms by acting as an opioid in the brain. This helps reduce the desire to use prescription opioids. Those who take opioids don’t feel high but normal, and they don’t experience any withdrawal symptoms. 

Buprenorphine is another popular medication used to control withdrawal symptoms. Many healthcare providers favor buprenorphine over methadone because it’s less addicting. The most commonly used form of buprenorphine is sold under the name of Suboxone. This drug contains naloxone along with buprenorphine. 

Buprenorphine in Suboxone reduces cravings and withdrawal symptoms by activating receptors in the brain partially compared to full agonists like heroin. Simultaneously, it blocks the effects of opioids at the receptor sites, reversing their effects. The naloxone component is included to deter misuse of the medication. 

Suboxone is highly effective in treating opioid addiction. About 40% to 60% of success rates have been reported. However, several clinical trials link this medication with severe tooth decay and dental problems. Commonly reported complications, TorHoerman Law explains, are tooth erosion and decay, tooth loss and fractures, and gum injuries. The acidic nature of Suboxone is to blame for dental injuries. 

Even the FDA has warned people about dental problems linked to the use of buprenorphine. More than a hundred lawsuits have been filed against Suboxone manufacturer Indivior. Plaintiffs in the Suboxone tooth decay lawsuit blame Indivor for failing to inform them about tooth decay associated with the use of their drug. 

If you take Suboxone, be sure to schedule an appointment with your dentist. They can customize a tooth decay prevention plan, so you can take this medication without worry. 

Naltrexone is another good option for preventing relapse. This drug works by preventing opioids from affecting the brain, eliminating the possibility of getting high. However, note that naltrexone only helps prevent relapse and not drug cravings. 

#3 Practice Mindfulness and Stress Management Techniques

Tapering techniques and prescription medication are helpful. But none of these would work if you don’t practice mindfulness and learn healthy ways of coping with stress. 

Stress– short-term or long-term– can trigger a relapse. A recent NIH publication supports this. You’re at an increased risk of a relapse if you encounter stressful situations. Such situations remind the brain of the pleasure associated with the use of opioids. 

Deep breathing exercises, meditation, and yoga can help calm the mind, reduce cravings, and improve overall emotional well-being. You can even seek the help of a therapist. They will equip you with stress management techniques to help you cope with stressful situations and stay focused on your goal of sobriety. 

To sum things up, overcoming opioid addiction is challenging, but you can achieve your goal if you’re determined enough. 

These strategies can help you break free from the grip of addiction, but they would be of no use if you don’t understand your triggers. Identify what leads you to opioid use and avoid them, be it people, emotions, or situations. Also, prioritize your physical health. Eating a nutritious diet and getting adequate sleep can help support the recovery process. 

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