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Not All Opioid Addiction Rehabs Are The Same
Getting over an opioid addiction isn’t easy, of course, nothing good in life ever is. And, those who have recovered all agree on one thing; life without opioids is much better, aka; good. Why is opioid dependency so hard to get over? It’s simple. It’s because of how the opioids interact with your brain and body which can easily lead to both physical and psychological dependency.
You see, opiates bind to certain receptors in the brain, spinal cord and other parts of the body. Opiates do this by cloaking as the body’s natural pain-relieving chemicals. Opiates can also bring forth a temporary feeling of euphoria. When you take these drugs, your body will quickly become more tolerant, so you need more to relieve the pain. The more you take the more dependent you become.
Eventually, these drugs impair your brain from making dopamine without opioids. Meanwhile, the opioids are destroying neurotransmitters and receptors which allow you to feel pleasure. Perhaps, you can see why it is so difficult to stop taking opioids once you become addicted (cite: 1).
As the addiction progresses, your body and mind will demand more of the drug in order to alleviate pain and allow for a sense of normalcy in terms of being able to feel pleasure, however the more you take the more damage you are actually doing. If you don’t take more you have terrible uncontrollable withdrawal symptoms and if you do, you are led further down the path of chemical dependency and as a result your brain, body, and overall life experience will suffer.
The Difficulty in Treating Opioid Addiction and Dependency
Not all rehab centers, residential treatment centers, or drug addiction clinics are the same. Not all addictions are the same. Thus, all addiction treatment programs should not be the same either. One-size-fits-all strategies just won’t work here. Dependency treatment programs that treat all patients the same, administering the same treatment have extremely low success rates.
Opioid addiction has become a national emergency and a crisis of epic proportions here in the United States (cite 2). It’s not fair to the patients, their families, insurance companies or society as a whole to take a one-size-fits-all approach to this kind of treatment. It’s the wrong way to address this serious situation. The best way to treat opioid dependency is by assessing each individual person’s situation and developing a personalized and customized treatment program that works for them.
Developing a Personalized Opioid Dependency Treatment Program
To properly assess an individual with opioid dependency it’s important to know how they became addicted. Was it through pharmaceutical drugs containing Fentanyl? Did their prescription run out, so they went to the street to get ahold of illegal drugs to suffice during excruciating and tormenting times of withdrawal? How much did they take and how long did they take it? What else did they take?
It’s important to know the family history. Are there any other dependencies in the family; alcohol, drugs, etc. Is there any family history of mental illness? What types? Has the patient been previously diagnosed with any mental disorders; do they have a history of mental health issues?
It’s important to get a genetic test, as certain genes respond differently to different medications, as often medications are given in place of opioids to help with withdrawal symptoms. These drugs are administered during a specifically timed drawdown, this might take weeks. It’s important to use the right medicines which match the individual’s specific condition.
How serious is the individual in seeing this through? You cannot help someone against their will, as they will remain dependent still. Has the patient been to a rehab facility previously and relapsed? How many times? What previous medicines have been prescribed in past rehab treatments? Has the patient attempted a do-it-themselves program? Is the family committed, caring, and ‘all-in’ with all their love? (cite: 3, 4, 5)
It’s also important to have an understanding of the patient’s physical health. How much damage has been done to the brain’s neurotransmitters, to the patient’s kidneys, and to the central nervous system? This information can be key to a successful and healthy detox program. All these things combined can give a recovery practitioner the necessary puzzle pieces to develop a successful personalized treatment program.
Opioid Relapse Is All Too Common
When it comes to heroin, only about 28% of the addicts studied in long-term research had stable abstinence after 10-30 years of observation. The 28% is of those who survived, as heroin addicts had 6-20 times more likelihood of dying than the average person in our general population (cite: 6). Those who used medicine replacements/alternatives for the entire duration of the withdrawal period had the best chances of staying clean.
Those who had a co-occurring addiction with meth (Methamphetamine), that is to say, addiction to opioids and meth, had twice the chance of dropping out of a treatment program, thus not even finishing treatment (cite: 7).
A Rutgers University study showed that 46% of those who successfully completed dependency treatment for opioid addiction relapsed within 7-months. Their research also noted that those with a high-risk tolerant personality were most likely to relapse (cite: 8). The Rutgers study was for ‘all’ types of opioid treatment programs, and any situation, bunching it all together. Still, that nears 50%, which is a scary number, and this study is also only for the first seven months. Most of those who were still clean after five years of abstinence were able to maintain a clean life without opioids (cite: 6).
Why is Opioid Addiction Relapse So Common
Why is opioid relapse so common? Why is it that standard treatments often don’t work? Well, this gets back to our previous statements above. It’s because of how the opioid rewires your brain. And, it’s because most addiction treatment plans don’t take into consideration the patient’s exact situation.
At LifeSync Malibu, we spend a significant amount of time doing our due diligence, and we ask the right questions, do the right tests, and get to know the patient prior to preparing a personalized treatment program. No two dependency treatment programs are the same for the obvious reason; no two situations are exactly the same, and no two people are alike.
Our specialty is developing customized treatment programs for each person. Our founder, Dr. Booth insists on it. He leaves no stone unturned when planning a specialized dependency treatment program. Perhaps this is why our success rates are so high.
We pay attention to the details. We want you to “get your life back”, and not just keep jumping from one treatment program to another. We don’t want to see you ‘coming back’ to our facility as a patient and if you do come back, we hope it will be to say “hi” and tell us how you are doing in your new life.
1.) Book; “Drugs, the Brain, and Behavior: The Pharmacology of Abuse and Dependence,” by J. Brick and C.K. Erickson, Haworth Press, Binghampton, NY, 1998, 194 pages, ISBN: 0-7890-0274-4.
2.) NIH, National Institute on Drug Abuse website article; “Principles of Effective Drug Treatment (Third Edition),” updated last in January 2018.
3.) “Medication-Assisted Treatment For Opioid Addiction in Opioid Treatment Programs,” by Steven L. Batki, Janice F. Kauffman, Ira Marion, Mark W. Parrino, and George E. Woody, US Department of Health and Human Services, 356 pages.
4.) “An Action Guide for Management of Opioid Dependence: Next Steps for Patients and Families,” by CEPAC, New England Comparative Effectiveness Public Advisory Council, September 2014, part of the “Management of Patients with Opioid Dependence: A Review of Clinical, Delivery System, and Policy Options,” program.
5.) “Long-Term Course of Opioid Addiction,” by Hser, Yih-Ing; Evans, Elizabeth MA; Grella, Christine; Ling, Walter MD; and Anglin, Douglas. published in Harvard Review of Psychiatry: March/April 2015 – Volume 23 – Issue 2 – p 76–89, doi: 10.1097/HRP.0000000000000052.
6.) “Association between methamphetamine use and retention among patients with opioid use disorders treated with buprenorphine,” by Judith Tsui, Jim Mayfield, and Elizabeth Speaker, et. al., published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, DOI:
7.) The Daily Targum, article; “Patients tolerant of risks most often relapse their opioid addictions, Rutgers researchers find,” by Brendan Brightman, published on December 8, 2019.