Opioid and Substance Abuse Management and Prevention

It seems that there’s no area of the country left untouched by the growing opioid epidemic. The most commonly abused type of opioid use is found in prescription narcotics. These include:

• Oxycodone
• Hydrocodone
• Fentanyl
• Tramadol
The rapidly growing number of patients abusing prescription opioids has left physicians in a tight spot. Determining when a patient truly needs the medication and when it’s a sign of addiction in the making.

Understanding the Addiction

Many people begin their addiction innocently and unknowingly. After major surgery, patients are often sent home with a narcotic prescription to manage the pain. In those that grow addicted, they crave the feeling of the medication long after their script runs out. It’s important to remember that addiction is a disease of the brain and telling a patient just to stop taking opioids is no different than telling a diabetic just to end needing their insulin injection. Addicts know that these medications are causing them harm, but the compulsion to seek them out overrules that thought.
Many addicts begin to need more medication in higher doses to get the desired effect, which leaves them turning to more severe options. Heroin is an illegal opioid sold as a street drug. Heroin is very easy to overdose on, but that doesn’t stop an addict seeking their high.

Managing the Addiction

The only way to prevent addiction is to remain aware. Don’t prescribe opioids unless absolutely necessary and specify the smallest amount in the lowest dose possible. Once a habit has occurred, there are treatment options available. Some of those treatment options include:
• Methadone – methadone is a medication used to treat opioid addiction. Methadone works by affecting the same areas of the brain as an opioid does, without getting you high. This helps to curb cravings and make withdrawal symptoms less severe. Methadone should be used as a temporary solution while full recovery takes place.
• Naltrexone – naltrexone is used to make addicts feel less of an effect when they do take opioids. In fact, it can create an adverse impact similar to symptoms of withdrawal. This works to deter addicts from using opiates while they seek treatment.
• Therapy – getting over addiction requires more than just physical treatment. Drug addiction counseling or treatment is a necessary step to understanding and overcoming the addiction. Therapy will help to teach you healthy coping mechanisms to use when you feel the urge to turn to opioid use.


3700 Cahaba Beach Road Birmingham, AL 35242

Our Mission and Values:

Our mission is to provide the best healthcare possible in a kind and caring environment, in an economical manner, while respecting the rights of all of our patients, at times and locations convenient to the patient.

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