Drug addiction and opioid addiction, in particular, is an increasingly dominant and dangerous epidemic in America. Since 1999, 760,000 people have died of drug overdoses in the United States alone. Out of that number, at least two-thirds have resulted from opioid abuse, and numbers are on the rise. The death toll has been steadily climbing for the last four years, and they show no signs of stopping.
There were just under 51,000 opioid-related deaths in 2019, and that number skyrocketed to over 69,000 in 2020. The numbers for 2021 aren’t out yet, but they’re expected to increase once again. As common as opioid addiction, the good news is that recovery from that addiction is possible and achievable. It’s not easy, but it’s possible with the right knowledge, discipline, and support.
What do the stats tell us?
When it comes to opioid addiction, the numbers are staggering, and most of them aren’t positive. When it comes to addiction recovery rates, the numbers are foggy and muddled, but our best guess is that 30 to 50 percent of people recover from opioid addiction. The rate of recovery is largely dependent on how the individual attempts recovery and what facility they go to. Some facilities boast recovery rates as high as 80 percent.
Unfortunately, the stats also say that 90% of those who claim recovery will relapse at some point within the first year. This number is staggering, considering the pain and discomfort that addicts go through during withdrawal. However, opioid recovery is a lifelong journey, and many people run into trouble sometime throughout that journey and relapse.
The dangers of drug relapse
While drug relapse statistics don’t look good in 2020 or any other year for that matter, many of those who relapse will once again get clean. However, the dangers of relapse cannot be overstated. When a person gets addicted to opioids, they need more and more of the drug to satisfy their needs. The amount of drugs they take to get a fix continues to go up and up until it’s a level dangerous enough to kill a first-time user.
When a person goes through withdrawal and recovery, the opioids get weaned out of their system. The danger is when the person goes back to drugs as if they had never quit and take a dose equivalent to what they used to when they were using every day. Because their system isn’t used to drugs any longer, when they put the substance back into their body, it’s often a dose high enough to kill them.
What methods are most effective for opioid recovery?
Most forms of treatment for opioid recovery involve a three-pronged attack: medication, behavioral therapy, and counseling. If you go to a rehab facility or a clinic specializing in drug treatment, this is often the approach that they will take. You might think that it sounds weird to treat drug addiction with more drugs, but it’s one of the most effective treatment methods.
Some of the most commonly used medications in opioid treatment are nicotine, alcohol, and other less harmful opioids. These drugs must be dosed and administered by a rehab professional to be effective and not do more harm than good. When given in the right doses, medications are helpful in three main ways.
Going through withdrawal
When people go through withdrawal, they experience pain and discomfort unlike they’ve ever experienced. Medications administered by professionals can help ease these pains and make the person in recovery not want to go back to opioids. Many addicts never make it through the withdrawal stage or struggle to do so. Medication can be the mechanism that helps them through.
Ease the treatment and recovery process
Certain medications help the brain adapt more slowly to not having opioids in the body’s system. The medication is administered slowly and strategically to repel cravings that will inevitably creep in.
One of the main reasons people relapse into opioid abuse is stress, depression, or other mental disorders. With medications, people are less likely to get stressed or depressed if they’re getting steady doses. The tricky part where a professional comes into play is not letting the patient get addicted to the medications.
There are a wide variety of behavioral therapies used to treat opioid addiction. Each of these therapies is implemented to change how you think about drugs. The goal is to get you to realize that you don’t need them to function properly and that you don’t have to rely on them as a means of coping.
Much like behavioral therapy, counseling is used to strengthen the mind of someone in opioid recovery. Most facilities will have their counselors on-site, but it will likely be necessary to continue counseling after you’ve been discharged. Having someone to talk to who knows what you’re going through and what you’re feeling. A sense of community and comfort is essential throughout the recovery process.
Recovery Is Always Possible
There might be thousands or tens of thousands of people who die every year from opioids, but millions have recovered and are living normal lives. Recovery from drug addiction is 100% possible if you know how to find help and have a solid support system around you. It’s nearly unheard of for someone to recover from opioid addiction all by themselves and to make a lasting recovery.
The overall goal of any good rehab facility is to make people functional and productive in every aspect of life. This includes their family, in the workplace, and their communities. One of the most important aspects of recovery is convincing someone that they need it. No one starts in life wanting to be addicted to drugs, and whether they admit it or not, they want and need out. Convincing them that this is what’s best for them is crucial and often takes the help of someone who loves them.