Opium addiction is very dangerous and about 9% of the American population does it. Opiate drugs include morphine, methadone, heroin, oxytocin, Dilaudid and others. Oxytocin is a prescription pain medicine while heroin is illegal.
Opiate drugs are very addictive from the first time they are consumed. Over time, greater amounts need to be taken more frequently in order to produce the same effect. This causes physical dependence on opium. Suddenly stopping or largely reducing the intake causes the abuser to experience withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms include, but are not limited to, muscle aches, nausea, insomnia, anxiety, runny nose, and diarrhea. The withdrawal symptoms are very uncomfortable but are usually not life threatening. Some people start withdrawing from opiates even when they have only consumed them as painkillers in the hospital. Since they are not aware of what is happening to them and the cause behind it, they don’t crave the drugs.
It is easy to diagnose opiate withdrawal, urine and blood tests can confirm it when screened for drugs. If the doctor is concerned that the opiate use has given rise to other problems, additional tests can be performed such as blood chemistries and liver function tests (CHEM-20) and complete blood count, measures red and white blood cells and platelets (CBC).
The best treatment is to go to a rehab center. Such places are very well equipped to deal with the treatment and the withdrawal. To start the process, the abuser has to go through detoxification to help end the physical dependence. This gives rise to the withdrawal symptoms, but doctors are readily available to help deal with that and medication is given to ease the pain. Such medications include Buprenorphine (Subutex) which can also help speed up the detoxification process. For addicts recovering from methadone, the solution is long-term maintenance with the help of this medicine. This maintenance basically involves reducing the dosage of methadone over a period of time. This decreases the intensity of the withdrawal symptoms.
Some drug treatment programs put the patient under anesthesia and inject large doses of opiate-blocking drugs. This speeds up the detoxification process and ends the physical dependence on the drug. However, there is no actual proof that it actually speeds anything up, though it can reduce the intensity of the withdrawal. On the other hand, this treatment has caused death in some patients, especially when it was not performed in a hospital. This is why the traditional treatment is a safer and more efficient program. There are also support groups like Narcotics Anonymous and SMART Recovery which help addicts recover.
In addition to dealing with the physical dependence, psychological factors also need to be taken into account. Opiate addiction can cause mental illnesses such as depression or anxiety, or such illnesses can cause a person to start taking drugs in the first place. So treating mental disorders can help withdraw from the drug and lessen the chances of relapsing. Therapists can also help motivate and encourage the addict to go through with the treatment especially since it is such a hard ordeal.