Addiction Medicine

Recently, opioid addiction has been labeled a crisis or epidemic, and for good reason. In 2015 alone, approximately 33,000 people died from an opioid overdose in the United States and over two million people were addicted to opioids — and these numbers continue to rise. To combat opioid addiction, Dr Cowan at Thornville Family Medical offers suboxone to his patients, which helps them transition more easily out of active addiction. To learn more, call or use the online booking tool to schedule a consultation.

What are opioids? Opioids are a class of drugs that interact with opioid receptors on the nerve cells, both in the brain and throughout the body. Opioids are generally used to relieve pain, but because of the euphoric effect they have, they’re often misused long after the pain is gone. The most common opioids are:

  • Prescription pain relievers such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, and morphine
  • Heroin
  • Synthetic opioids, namely fentanyl

Opioid addiction often starts out innocently enough, with a prescription for pain relievers. With prolonged use, however, opioid use can turn into a full-blown heroin addiction when the prescription drugs are no longer available. In fact, during the 2000s, of those who entered rehab for heroin addiction, at least 75% used prescription opioids before turning to heroin.

On top of being one of the most addictive substances, coming off of opioids is an extremely difficult journey, mentally and physically, causing many addicts to simply stay hooked in order to avoid the withdrawal period.

What are the symptoms of withdrawal from opioids?

Withdrawal from opioids is one of the main hurdles for addicts who want to get clean. The symptoms of withdrawal are severe, and include:

  • Muscle aches
  • Anxiety
  • Sleeplessness
  • Sweating
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • High blood pressure

These symptoms are often intense for several days after the last drug was taken, and can even last up to six months on a much lesser scale.

Because of the difficulty of the withdrawal, medical experts in the addiction field are continually researching ways to soften the experience as much as possible.

How does suboxone work? To help those who have an opioid addiction, Dr. Cowan offers suboxone, which contains buprenorphine and naloxone. In short, suboxone is a step-down drug that still contains opioids, but it reduces the “high” considerably. The buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist that doesn’t get an addict as high, and it also satisfies the body’s need for the opiate. The naloxone component acts as an opioid antagonist.

Combined, the two ingredients in suboxone greatly reduce the withdrawal symptoms in opioid addicts, allowing them to wean off of the drug gradually and safely. Dr. Cowan works with his patients all throughout the process to ensure the best chances for success, which includes counseling and addiction treatment recommendations.

To learn how suboxone can help put an end to opioid addiction, call Thornville Family Medical or book an appointment online.

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