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How to Combat the Opioid Epidemic in 2019

Overcoming addiction is never easy, but it is essential to living a happier, healthier life. Every year we begin the New Year with the thought that this year will be better. We will be better. This is our year. This will be the year we accomplish all of our goals, hopes, and dreams. This could be your year to overcome your addiction to opioids.

Whether it is you or someone you love who is addicted to opioids, the first steps you need to take are educating yourself on what addiction is and then accepting that you have a problem, so that you can determine how you can move on.

What is Opioid Addiction?
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, opioid addiction is “characterized by a powerful, compulsive urge to use opioid drugs, even when they are no longer required medically.” Even when opioids are prescribed appropriately and taken as directed, people can have issues with developing addiction. If you are still taking the opioid several months after the intended purpose of the drug was performed, then you should consider speaking to a health professional.

Because of the effect opioids has on the brain, dependency is likely to occur. Dependency occurs when your tolerance to the drug is raised; this means that your body begins to need more and more of the drug in order to feel the same effect. An obvious sign that you have developed a dependency to opioids is that you begin to experience physical and psychological symptoms of withdrawal when you have decreased your intake of the drug. Some symptoms of withdrawal that you may experience include muscle cramping, nausea, fever, sweating, and anxiety.

What Treatment Options are Available for Opioid Addiction?
Though there are many options and paths to recovery from opioid addiction, the best method combines multiple treatment options. To be truly successful with your addiction treatment, you should combine medication, counseling, and recovery meetings. To be truly successful with your addiction treatment, you should combine medication, counseling, and recovery meetings. Each of these forms of treatment play an important part in the recovery process, which is described below:

  • Medication — Medication can be essential to the recovery process. This is not just substitution of one drug for another, but rather this drug helps decrease the negative effects of stopping use of opioids. Of course the goal is to stop using opioids, but there are many painful and uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms that can occur during this period. Medication may also help decrease your cravings for the opioids you have been abusing.
  • Counseling — Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a form of talk therapy. This type of therapy is used to help people suffering from a variety of disorders, ranging from addictive disorders to depression or anxiety. This can be a useful therapy to help determine what negative thoughts and behaviors contributed to your desire to use more opioids. Once the thought and behavior patterns are determined, it is easier to find ways to stop those and create more positive thought and behavior patterns.
  • Recovery Meetings — There are a variety of types of recovery meetings you can participate in, including individual, group, and family counseling. You can determine with your health professional which option is best for you. If you need to focus on yourself and setting personal goals, then you may choose to have individual counseling, which may include CBT. Being in group therapy can be very helpful, since it gives you a sense of community and helps you not feel alone in your struggle. Hearing how others deal with their addiction and treatment can help you find ideas to try in your own personal recovery process. Family counseling can be essential to rebuilding relationships with your loved ones — who you may have also negatively-affected with your addiction, and working on this path of recovery with those you love and support you.

How Can I Combat the Opioid Epidemic in 2019?
If you are struggling with an opioid addiction, know that you are not alone. The addiction to opioids truly has become an epidemic and national crisis. If you know that you suffer from addiction, seek help from someone you trust and seek treatment. Going to a rehab center may not be a good option for you, but there are a variety of treatment options available.

If a loved one suffers from opioid addiction, educate yourself. If you are considering giving them an intervention, make sure you do it in a productive way, and consider enlisting an interventionist to help. Make sure you let the person suffering from opioid addiction know that you love and support them.

2019 can be your year to make a difference by choosing to combat the opioid epidemic.

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