Information on the topic of opioid overdoses can be found all over the web, and currently, the crisis that affects the United States has reached unprecedented levels. Every day in our country 130 people die over overdoses caused by opioids that include prescription pain relievers, heroin, and synthetic opiates like fentanyl. Roughly 21 to 29 percent of individuals prescribed opioids for chronic pain end up misusing them, whereas another eight to 12 percent develop an opioid use disorder (OUD).
Additionally, 80 percent of people who use heroin first abused prescription opioids. The state of affairs that have come as a direct result of the opioid crisis has devastated our country in a way that some wonder if it’ll ever be fixed. Fortunately, access to treatment and recovery services have been steadily increasing over the years, but now we must focus on getting these people into treatment.
It’s fair to give the opioid crisis its fair share of attention, but a silent killer lurks in the shadows when it comes to addiction. It hides behind the guise of its legality, and it is part of the culture in most countries around the world. If you guessed alcohol, you are correct. Alcohol consumption cost the United States $249 billion in economic burden in 2010 and attributes to 88,000 deaths in the country alone. We are speaking solely on a country level, and not a global scale when it comes to alcohol abuse.
The substance doesn’t get the same attention that the opioid crisis is, but it causes its fair share of destruction. An astonishing 86.4 percent of those 18 and older surveyed in 2015 by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reported drinking alcohol at some point in their lives. Only 6.7 percent of adults received treatment for their alcohol use disorder (AUD).
Another drug class that receives little attention in the media despite its emerging presence in the general public is benzodiazepine drugs. Unfortunately, these are some of the most dangerous drugs on the planet when it comes to withdrawals, and entering into detox is highly suggested. The prevalence of the substance is steadily increasing with doctors freely prescribing the drug(s).
Benzo drugs are one of the most prescribed drugs on the planet, and they can be taken for anxiety, sleep disorders, and unfortunately, recreationally by those who abuse them. Few people understand the dangers involved when it comes to benzos, and many can become addicted and die from them. Between 1996 and 2013, the number of adults who filled a benzo prescription increased by 67 percent, from 8.1 million to 13.5 million. While the amount of opioids prescriptions being dispensed is starting to fall, benzo prescriptions continue to rise.
Like other chronic diseases such as asthma or heart disease, treatment for drug addiction is not a cure. Addiction can be managed successfully, and treatment enables people to counteract addiction’s disruptive effects on their brain and behavior and regain control of their lives. Fortunately, though, it is a very treatable disorder. Extensive research by physicians has delved deeply into the topic highlighting new methods that help individuals stop using drugs and resume productive lives – this is known as recovery.
While detox is a crucial portion of treatment, the most effective means of treatment is to follow the continuum of care; however, starting the continuum requires a stint in medical detoxification. During this stage, medications will be used to help people detoxify from drugs, including opioids, alcohol, benzodiazepines, among many others. Treatment must be tailored to address each client’s drug use patterns and drug-related medical, mental, and social problems.
Detox is designed to treat withdrawal, which is when the individual first stops using drugs. Some symptoms can be violent and require medical supervision to ensure their safety. Medical detoxification safely manages the acute physical symptoms of withdrawal. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), detox alone is rarely sufficient to achieve long-term abstinence, but for some individuals, it is a strongly indicated precursor to effective drug addiction treatment. In short, yes, detox does really work.
As we mentioned above, if someone wishes to get the most out of treatment, they must fulfill their obligations and attend the entire continuum of care. The continuum of care refers to a treatment system in which clients enter treatment at a level appropriate to their needs and then step up to more intense treatment or down to less intense treatment as needed.
An effective continuum of care features successful transfer of a client between levels of care, similar treatment philosophy across standards of care, and efficient transfer of client records. The American Society of Medicine (ASAM) has established five main levels of care for substance abuse treatment, which include:
Behavioral therapies are designed to modify attitudes and behaviors related to drug use. It allows the client to handle stressful situations, and the triggers they will experience once they complete treatment. Behavioral therapies can enhance the effectiveness in medication-assisted treatment (MAT), and help individuals remain in treatment for longer durations. All of these variables increase the odds of success.
While states and the government do not keep official records of addiction recovery statistics, there are some available through rehab centers. Residential treatment has shown to treat 51 percent of those who attend treatment will complete it, but only 21 percent will remain sober after five years. Detox, on average, shows that 33 percent will achieve treatment, but 17 percent remain sober after five years, and outpatient treatment shows that 43 percent of users complete treatment, but 18 percent will stay sober after five years. One thing to keep in mind is that relapse doesn’t necessarily equate to failure in drug addiction treatment.
The relapse rate for drug users is between 40 to 60 percent, which is similar to relapse rates of Type I diabetes, hypertension, and asthma. Remember, addiction is a disease and relapse is comparable to other conditions.
Treatment, C. F. (1970, January 01). Chapter 3. Intensive Outpatient Treatment and the Continuum of Care. Retrieved from from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64088/
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (n.d.). Treatment and Recovery. Retrieved from from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/treatment-recovery
Lembke, A. (2018, February 22). Benzodiazepines: Our other prescription drug epidemic. Retrieved from from https://www.statnews.com/2018/02/22/benzodiazepines-drug-epidemic/
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019, January 22). Opioid Overdose Crisis. Retrieved from from https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids/opioid-overdose-crisis