The opioid crisis in the United States is serious, affecting millions of individuals and their families. It’s not just illegal opioids (like heroin and methamphetamine) that are to blame. Data show that more than 10 million Americans abuse prescription opioid medications every year, and in 2019 alone, opioid overdoses caused roughly 50,000 deaths.
The team at Triad Primary Care understands the toll addiction takes on patients and their loved ones. As a top-rated medical practice in Greensboro, North Carolina, we offer compassionate, patient-centered addiction treatment to help our patients break the addiction cycle and lead healthier lives. Here’s how our team can help you.
The basics of opioid addiction
While prescription opioids have historically played leading roles in managing chronic pain, they have a high risk of addiction (just like illegal opioid drugs). That’s because of the unique and powerful way these substances act on your brain.
Our bodies produce natural opiates that influence our moods. You’ve probably heard of the “runner’s high” that happens when our bodies release natural endorphins following exercise. Natural opiates bind with receptors on nerve cells. These receptors send “pleasure” messages to the brain, contributing to feelings of euphoria and helping block pain sensations.
Opioid drugs work by binding to those same receptors. But the influence they have on our nerves is much stronger. Not only do these drugs block pain, but they also contribute to a significant “high,” which in itself can be addictive. At the same time, our bodies quickly become accustomed to the effects of opioids, which means we need higher and higher doses to achieve the same effect.
Together, these effects — the desire to maintain a “high” and the need for higher doses — drive the addiction process. Over time, chemical changes happen in your brain, making it virtually impossible to break the addiction cycle without medical help.
How addiction treatment works
Our team uses medication-assisted treatment (MAT) to break the cycle of opioid addiction. When using MAT, patients take prescribed doses of medications designed to “short-circuit” the opioid addiction process. These medicines work by binding to your natural opioid receptors, preventing opioid medications from binding to those same receptors.
Our team offers two options for MAT: buprenorphine, and a brand-name medication called Suboxone® that contains buprenorphine and naloxone (the same ingredient used in Narcan®). Buprenorphine therapy must begin within 24 hours of your last opioid use, with dosing based on your doctor’s prescription. Suboxone is used for long-term treatment.
Our team uses MAT in conjunction with behavioral therapy aimed at helping you learn new, healthy behaviors and “unlearn” negative thoughts and behaviors that led to your addiction. That includes learning healthy, effective ways to cope and deal with stress that help prevent you from returning to opioid use in the future.
Learn more about addiction treatment
There’s no shame in addiction, and no blame, either. Focusing on recovery is the best way to break the cycle of addiction and begin your journey toward a healthier future. Recovering from an opioid addiction isn’t easy, but our team can help. To take that next step on your own healthy journey, call 336-800-8958 or book an appointment online with our team at Triad Primary Care today.