Does America Really Have an Opiate Crisis?

There has been a huge amount of media coverage of what is described as an epidemic of opiate abuse in America, but it’s still only too easy to ignore the extent of the issue. Opiate abuse doesn’t just involve illegal street drugs such as heroin but increasingly opiate-based prescription drugs many people come to rely on to treat chronic pain conditions. The fact is there are now more people being treated for prescription drug abuse than heroin abuse in rehab drug treatment in America today.

There is no longer a generic profile of a person who is abusing opiate drugs and they can literally come from any walk of life or corner of society. Because of the insidious way prescription opiates and heroin take effect, it is only too easy to become dependent on them, particularly when attempting to manage pain. It is no surprise then that America is currently in crisis over opiate abuse, with hundreds of thousands of people suffering the consequences.

According to lawmakers in the US, around $45 billion needs to be committed to dealing with the opiate crisis, although some say the real number is likely to be at least four times that. However, the federal government has been slow to provide urgently needed resources at a state level to address the epidemic. For that reason, it is down to the individual and their loved ones to recognize the signs of opiate abuse and organize professional treatment.

Where Did The Opiate Crisis Come From?

Reports suggest that opiate abuse started to increase in the 1990s and early 2000s when doctors began to use opioid-based medications to treat chronic pain conditions. Over the years, pharmaceutical companies have introduced more types of painkilling drugs and physicians have widely believed them to be “safe”, resulting in a proliferation of prescriptions that has simply spiraled out of control.

When someone is prescribed opiate-based drugs for pain, their condition is usually expected to last at least a number of weeks. This often leads to them developing an early tolerance to the medication which makes them need more to reduce their pain symptoms. Doctors are reluctant to increase the dose and so many find themselves seeking alternatives either by going to other physicians or turning to heroin.

Heroin is the natural form of opium that is derived from the poppy plant, whereas its synthetic variant is used in painkilling medications. The reason opiates work so well in reducing pain is because they block pain messages by interrupting neurotransmission in the brain. However, while synthetic opiates are manufactured in sterile, clinical environments, street heroin is largely mixed with other substances to increase its street value.

The Additional Dangers of Heroin Abuse

Although opium is a natural substance, it is processed into various forms so it can be injected, smoked, swallowed or snorted. Heroin users are exposed to more risks than if taking prescription opiates as they can get infections from dirty needles or injection tools. Many people think that the biggest risk is in sharing needles but when the same implements are used multiple times without sanitizing them, it can be considerably higher.

The other risk people take when buying street heroin is that they have no guarantee of what they’re getting. One thing that is almost certain is that the lab in which it originated is unlikely to be sterile or free from bacteria. Heroin users also take unnecessary risks with their health as a characteristic of addiction to the substance, which can often result in contracting serious illnesses and disease.

Can Opiate Abuse and Addiction Be Treated?

At Elevate, we know that the answer to this question is a resounding “yes”. This is because we use various holistic therapies and treatments for heroin abuse that effectively reduce withdrawal symptoms, restoring balance in the individual’s mind, body, and spirit. We understand that heroin addiction is particularly challenging to overcome, particularly when a person’s journey started in the physician’s office.

For that reason, we offer a long-term rehab therapy program that includes detox, rehab drug treatment and aftercare for a healthy life in sobriety. Holistic therapies have been shown to be very effective in treating heroin addiction because they empower patients to identify their reasons for abusing substances. Holistic therapies like meditation and adventure therapy offer patients the chance to explore themselves in such a way as to help them make the necessary changes in their lives to cope in sobriety.

Elevate’s inpatient heroin programs typically last for 90 days which is adequate for most clients to build the confidence they need to live a drug-free life. Many patients who have become dependent on prescription drugs benefit from holistic treatments such as massage therapy as an alternative method of managing pain. By taking things slowly in a rehabilitation program, the potential for a long-term recovery is significantly increased.

Continued Support Beyond Inpatient Care

Once a client has completed a program at Elevate, aftercare is offered as a matter of course. Aftercare is designed to help patients in the transition from rehab therapy to their homes so that they are able to cope with any stressful situations should they arise. The first few days and weeks of returning home after rehab drug treatment are when people are at their most vulnerable to relapse and aftercare often provides a vital lifeline to keep them drug-free.

Taking the first step and reaching out for rehabilitation therapy is always the hardest aspect of overcoming addiction. However, there are many thousands of people who have successfully completed a rehabilitation program and returned to a fulfilling life in sobriety who will testify to the fact that heroin addiction can be overcome with the right kind of treatment.