Opiate dependence is the particular condition in humans in which the neurochemistry and receptor sites of the brain change, causing the need for opiates becomes biological, such as the need for food or air.
Is there a cure for opiate dependence?
Opiate dependence is a chronic condition that occurs again and its treatment is a long process. There is a whole spectrum of possibilities when it comes to the treatment of opiate dependence, psychosocial interventions in home conditions (including therapeutic communities) or the principle of self-help groups such as Anonymous drug addicts(ADA) to medical treatment, including substitution treatment or detoxification regimes in outpatient settings, including specialized health centers. Different forms of treatment are not mutually exclusive, but can operate together for patients with different needs. Some of these have proved to be more successful than others. Substitution treatment given to appropriate health standards has proved effective in producing many positive outcomes both for the individual and for society, in a manner that:
- Reduce illegal drug use
- Improve physical, mental and social condition of the patient
- It improves the quality of life of the patient and his family
- Reduces risk behavior
- Reduce public spending in health care
- Reduce public spending in the justice system
Scientific evidence has shown that opiate addiction is best treated by a combination of continuing outpatient therapy, medication, and monitoring, with the aim of keeping patients on treatment. Substitution treatment and special methadone maintenance therapy in combination with the relevant social, health and psychological services have the greatest chance of being one of the most effective treatments for the opiate dependence.
What is substitution treatment?
Opiate dependence is difficult to control due to compulsive drug use and its repeated use, despite the negative health and social consequences. Substitution treatment is a form of health care for opiate dependence using a similar or identical substance with properties and actions similar to the drug normally used. This type of substance is called an agonist. Agonists can be replaced by a substance that is used to provide a more controlled type of addiction. Using them alleviates many of the withdrawal symptoms that people addicted to various psychoactive substances often experience and reduces health and social risks; when administered in the right doses, also reduces craving for opiates. Methadone is an example of the opioid agonist.
Other drugs that are prescribed for the treatment of opiate dependence are buprenorphine, naltrexone, naloxone etc. The benefit of substitution treatment lies in the opportunities it provides for dependent drug users to reduce their exposure to risk behaviors and to stabilize their lives in health and social terms. It is desirable for substitution drugs to have a longer duration of action of the drug they are replacing to delay the emergence of withdrawal and reduce the frequency of dosing. This helps the person to focus on normal life activities without the need to obtain and administer drugs.
What are the aims of substitution treatment?
- Helps the patient to remain healthy, with appropriate care and support which achieve life without illegal drugs
- Reduces the use of illegal drugs and medications that are not prescribed
- Solves problems related to drug abuse
- Reduces the risk of death due to overdose, HIV, hepatitis B and C and other blood-borne infections
- Reduces the possibilities for the future return of drug abuse
- Stabilizes the patient where possible to mitigate withdrawal symptoms
- Improves total personal, social and family functioning