The word opiates refers to a group of drugs that contain opium, which is a natural derivative of the poppy seed. It can also be made synthetically in a lab. People most often use synthetically produced opiates as pain relievers (analgesics), and they include morphine, codeine, hydrocodone and oxycodone, among others.
Relapse is a major concern for any recovering addict. Because drug addiction is a chronic disease, like high blood pressure or diabetes, the relapse rates for these chronic conditions are similar. The National Institute on Drug Abuse indicates that about 40-60 percent of addicts will relapse at some point, which is the same percentage as other chronic diseases. This is one reason why opiate recovery takes a lifelong commitment. Just like any other chronic disease, recovery from addiction requires constant monitoring, frequent life adjustments and visits to professionals who can help manage any problems with your ongoing recovery.
Why Opiate Recovery Is Difficult
Recovery from opiates is a lifelong process because of the way opioids interact with receptors in the brain. The chemicals in opiates mimic endorphins, which reduce pain and stimulate pleasure. In addition, the areas of the brain responsible for processing the feelings of reward and pleasure contain receptors sensitive to opioids. When you take opioids, those receptors trigger the brain to produce more and more pleasure and reward. Over time, the brain learns to crave this pleasure. When you take opiates, you are training your brain to need opiates.
Even after you stop taking opiates, your body still craves the drugs. Your body must re-learn how to experience pleasure and reward without the use of opiates. This is especially difficult in the first few days of rehab when withdrawal symptoms are at their worst. These symptoms can include depression, anxiety and insomnia, just to name a few. Other side effects, including vomiting and diarrhea, often tempt a person to relapse into usage again.
The Importance of Healthy Coping Habits
Lifelong commitment to opiate recovery requires you to develop healthy methods of coping with stress. One of the reasons people begin abusing and become addicted to opiates is because they use them to manage stress in their lives. Drugs give people a way to escape momentarily. Over time, however, the need to escape permeates every aspect of life. This underscores the importance of developing healthy coping habit to help manage the triggers for opiate relapse. Healthy coping habits include the following:
- Stress management
- Staying away from drug sources
- Meditation, prayer, yoga,
- Watching for H.A.L.T. (becoming too hungry, angry, lonely or tired)
- Talking to a sponsor or NA group
- Utilizing the help of recovering addicts
These are just a few ways to help monitor your lifelong commitment to opiate recovery. As you continue in your drug-free life, you will discover many other skills to cope with life without drugs.
Things to Consider
Getting Help for Your Opiate Recovery
Perhaps you haven’t even started on the recovery process for your opiate addiction. If you are ready to take that first step, you can call us to find inspiration and direction. Our toll-free helpline is staffed 24 hours a day. You can talk with one of our admissions coordinators about the best treatment options for your situation. Opiate recovery is a lifelong commitment, but it begins right now by calling us today.