Understanding the Opioid Prescription Addiction Problem
It’s in the news everywhere you turn: opioid prescription painkiller addiction has reached epidemic proportions.
Opioid Addiction Statistics
In 2014 alone approximately 10.3 million people reported non-medical use of prescription opioids, according to an article published by the New England Journal of Medicine . Between 2003-2011 emergency room admissions for prescription opioid overdose increased 153%. What’s worse, there is no end to the problem in sight.
People who initially used prescription painkillers as the result of an injury or surgery have found themselves using the medication more and more until addiction set in.
And the irony is that their pain has actually increased from long-term opioid painkiller usage!
Pain Increase Experienced with Opioid Addiction
So while more and more people have become dependent upon prescription painkillers, these same individuals report increased symptoms of pain. When the amount of painkillers taken increases, these individuals find themselves addicted to the opioid medication; and abuse them by taking more pills more frequently. For some, the cost of opioid painkillers becomes prohibitive and they turn to less expensive heroin as a replacement.
What is Needed to Stop Using Opioid Painkillers
The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) published a guideline for treating opioid addiction . When closely adhered to, the patient is able to safely move off of the addictive narcotic painkiller to a non-addictive medication regimen. At the same time, the psychological component to the addiction must be addressed through clinical interventions such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), mindfulness and addiction counseling, as well as social supports such as a 12-Step program such as Narcotics Anonymous.
When the ASAM Guidelines are followed by a board certified addictionologist, patients can expect positive results from treatment. Additionally, a pain medicine physician should be included in the treatment in order to help the patient manage pain without a narcotic pain reliever. While this may be done on an outpatient basis, residential treatment is preferred as patients may be better monitored for symptom stabilization and behavioral support.
Where and How to Get Opioid Addiction Help
Whilst there a literally thousands of addiction treatment programs in the United States, there are only a handful that successfully treat addiction to opioid painkillers for chronic pain. Arrowhead Lodge Recovery in Prescott, AZ provides an Opioid Addiction Recovery Program. In the Arrowhead Lodge Recovery opioid addiction rehab program, an individualized and personalized recovery program is administered by licensed medical professionals in a majestic, private mountain setting. The healing power of nature, removal from everyday hustle – plus the individualized attention of experienced and licensed medical staff – make Arrowhead Lodge Recovery a smart choice.
Board Certified Physicians: Essential Part of the Treatment Team
Successful and effective prescription opioid painkillers addiction treatment facilities have physicians who are board certified in pain medicine as well as in addiction medicine. It is vital that a board certified physician or team of physicians treat the patient.
Additionally, an addiction psychiatrist who is board certified in addiction medicine must be part of the medical team. Mental health professionals such as clinical psychologists and masters level, licensed therapists are also an essential part of the integrated treatment team for the addicted patient.
Opioid Addiction Residential Treatment Length of Stay
Opioid addiction residential treatment should be for a duration of 6-12 weeks to be successful. It is an unsafe medical practice to attempt opioid addiction treatment for 30 days or less; as it takes more time to change pain medications from a narcotic to a non-narcotic pain reliever. Cognitive change cannot have its full impact while the patient is making the transition to a sober life. A 12-week residential stay, followed by outpatient care, is best.
Will Insurance or Workers Compensation Pay for Opioid Addiction Treatment?
Third party payers such as commercial health insurers and workers compensation insurers realize the need for effective treatment for those who are addicted to opioid prescription painkillers due to chronic pain. Therefore, insurance providers are interested in finding facilities that are able to successfully treat their insured members. Check with your insurance provider to determine what benefits are provided for addiction treatment and/or addiction recovery and rehab.
Opioid Addiction Treatment: What to Do Next
To find a treatment facility that specializes in opioid painkiller addiction due to chronic pain, ask your primary care physician to help recommend a facility. Or call your insurance provider to locate a facility. If you must do an Internet search, be sure the facility you choose has a pain medicine physician and an addiction medicine physician on staff. Board certification is highly recommended in these areas. Other resources include ASAM and SAMHSA; both of these may be found on the Internet.
Millions of Americans are addicted and without help it becomes deadly. There are medically safe alternatives that involve non-narcotic pain relievers and addiction treatment. When treated by an integrated clinical team of physicians, psychologists and licensed therapists, those formerly addicted can realize a quality of life with meaning and purpose.
 Relationship between Nonmedical Prescription-Opioid Use and Heroin Use Wilson M. Compton, M.D., M.P.E., Christopher M. Jones, Pharm.D., M.P.H., and Grant T. Baldwin, Ph.D., M.P.H. January 14, 2016.
 ASAM National Practice Guideline for the Use of Medications in the Treatment of Addiction Involving Opioid Use