Canadian Addiction Treatment Centre Opioid Programs
Opioid Addiction and Treatment
Opioids are powerful narcotics that bind to opioid receptors in the brain, causing a release of hormones that reduce the sensation of pain and create a sense of euphoria. In much less time than you would think, they also inhibit the production of the body’s natural hormones that are released when participating in an activity that is pleasurable and as such, are highly addictive.
Opioid Use Disorder (OUD), often results in a physical dependency that presents as painful physical withdrawal symptoms like aches/pains, chills, and nausea which leads to intense cravings for more opioids to ease their physical and emotional discomfort. This physical dependency overrides other basic human needs and becomes the main focus of that person’s life.
Signs and Symptoms of Opioid Use
It may be hard to tell if someone is misusing opioids, especially if prescribed by a doctor for a legitimate medical issue. Opioid use symptoms can be presented by both physical and psychological signs, and can be identified using established diagnostic criteria.
According to WebMD, opioid withdrawal symptoms can show up within 12 hours after the last dose of the drug is taken. Experiencing withdrawals symptoms is a very strong indication that someone may be misusing their medication.
Signs of Opioid Misuse
- Drowsiness, lack of energy
- Nodding off or losing consciousness
- Restricted pupils
- Slowed, shallow breathing
- Constant scratching
- Nausea, vomiting
- “Track marks” or scars from use of needles
with Opioid Use
- Unusual elation or euphoria
- Sudden, dramatic mood swings
- Dishonesty, secrecy
- Sudden financial problems
- Issues with work and family
- Legal issues, arrests
- Not keeping commitments
- Noticeable changes in routine
- Taking more medication than prescribed
- Visiting multiple doctors to obtain prescriptions for opioids
Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms
- Runny nose
- Muscle cramps
- Increased heart rate
Opioid Agonist Therapy
There is hope for those struggling with opioid addiction. Medications, known as opioid agonists, can be used to alleviate the symptoms of withdrawal and reduce the cravings for illicit opioids. The two most common medications used to treat Opioid Use Disorder are methadone and buprenorphine/naltrexone (Brand name Suboxone®). These medications are long-acting opioids and have unique properties that help stabilize patients physically allowing them to address the behavioral, mental and emotional components of addiction.
Benefits of Opioid Agonist Therapy
- Decreases the possibility of relapse and overdose
- Reduces all-cause mortality for patients with OUD
- Allows patients to maintain commitments to school, work and family while participating in treatment
- Offers a safe and effective way to reduce withdrawal and cravings, allowing patients to get back to living a full and productive life
Why Start Opioid Agonist Therapy
An opioid agonist therapy program may be the right choice to help you overcome your opioid addiction. The following goals can become realities:
- A drug-free lifestyle
- A stable personal, social, family and financial life
- No physical withdrawal symptoms
- Decreased or eliminated drug cravings
- Resolution of legal concerns or participation in illegal activities
- A chance to obtain or complete an education
- A chance at stable employment
- Improved self-esteem, self-worth and independence
- Improved memory, concentration, attention and decision-making
- Improved health and the prevention of drug related health problems (e.g., HIV, Hepatitis, Liver disease, etc.)
- Improved overall quality of life
- A chance to regain respect, trust and relationships with your spouse, children, family members, friends and associates
Opioid Addiction Treatment Programs
Canadian Addiction Treatment Centres run several outpatient recovery programs that are designed to meet the needs of each individual:
1. Methadone Program
Methadone is a long-acting opioid medication (lasting 24-36 hours per dose).
It’s an effective and legal substitute for heroin or other narcotics (such as heroin, methadone, Oxycontin, opium, Percocet, Percodan, morphine, codeine, etc.)
Methadone has been used in treatment programs since the 1960s. It helps to stabilize the lives of people who are dependent on opiates and reduce the harm related to drug use.
It also helps them return to a stable social, economic, and home environment.
2. Buprenorphine/Suboxone® Program
Suboxone is a combination pill, composed of both buprenorphine and naloxone. It is available in two strengths, 2 mg (buprenorphine) / 0.5 mg (naloxone) as well as 8 mg (buprenorphine / 2 mg naloxone).
In terms of pharmacological therapy for opioid addiction, many consider suboxone to be the “new kid on the block”. It has been around for some time, both in the United States (where it is slowly surpassing methadone as the treatment of choice) and throughout Europe.
Sublocade® is a once-monthly buprenorphine injection designed for the treatment of moderate opioid use disorder (OUD). Sublocade® should be used as part of a complete treatment plan that includes counseling and psychosocial support and is currently offered in select CATC treatment centres.
4. Opioid Use Disorder During Pregnancy
Opioid dependence during pregnancy has been associated with numerous adverse fetal outcomes related to drug use, poor nutrition, etc.
5. Hepatitis C Treatment Program
Hepatitis C is a contagious blood-borne virus that causes liver inflammation and kills liver cells, permanently damaging the liver. Hepatitis C is usually spread when blood from a person infected with the Hepatitis C virus enters the body of someone who is not infected. Up to 75% of people initially infected with Hepatitis C may become chronically infected—that is, the infection does not clear up within six months. Most people with chronic Hepatitis C do not have symptoms and lead normal lives. However, in 10–25% of people with chronic Hepatitis C the disease progresses over a period of 10–40 years. There is currently no vaccine for Hepatitis C; however, current medication treatment has demonstrated a 95% cure rate.
6. Harm Reduction Services
CATC offers both Naloxone Kits (overdose prevention) and Needle Exchange Services in most of our treatment centres, caring for patients no matter what stage of recovery they may be in.