Opiate Addiction Treatment for Young Adults and Adolescents

Understanding Opioid Addiction

Opioid addiction, also known as Opioid Use Disorder (OUD), is a complex condition characterized by the compulsive use of opioid drugs despite negative consequences and a desire to stop using [1]. It is essential to have a clear understanding of OUD to address the challenges associated with this disorder effectively. This section will explore what Opioid Use Disorder is, the impact it can have, and the symptoms commonly experienced.

What is Opioid Use Disorder?

Opioid Use Disorder refers to a pattern of problematic opioid use that leads to significant impairment or distress. It involves the inability to control or reduce opioid use, even when individuals desire to do so. OUD is a chronic condition that requires proper medical attention and support to manage effectively. It is important to note that OUD can affect individuals from all walks of life, regardless of age, gender, or socioeconomic status.

Impact of Opioid Addiction

Opioid addiction can have a profound impact on various aspects of an individual's life. Physically, it can lead to dependence, meaning the body becomes reliant on opioids to function normally. This physical dependence can result in withdrawal symptoms when the drug is reduced or discontinued. Additionally, the unhealthy or risky use of opioids can have detrimental effects on a person's overall health and well-being.

The impact of opioid addiction is not limited to physical health. It can also affect an individual's mental and emotional well-being, relationships, and overall quality of life. The compulsive need to seek and use opioids can strain personal relationships, lead to financial difficulties, and contribute to legal issues. The multifaceted nature of opioid addiction highlights the importance of comprehensive treatment and support.

Symptoms of Opioid Use Disorder

Symptoms of Opioid Use Disorder can vary from person to person but often include:

  • Physical dependence on opioids
  • Unhealthy or risky use of opioids
  • Cravings for opioids
  • Inability to control or reduce opioid use
  • Continued opioid use despite negative consequences
  • Neglecting personal or professional responsibilities
  • Spending significant time and effort obtaining opioids
  • Denial of the severity of the problem

These symptoms emphasize the complexity of Opioid Use Disorder and the need for specialized treatment and support. It is crucial to recognize these signs and seek appropriate help to address the challenges associated with opioid addiction.

By understanding what Opioid Use Disorder entails, recognizing its impact, and being aware of the symptoms, individuals and their loved ones can take steps towards seeking the necessary treatment and support. It is important to remember that help is available, and recovery from opioid addiction is possible with the right resources and assistance.

Treatment Options for Opioid Addiction

When it comes to treating opioid addiction, there are several effective options available. These treatment approaches aim to address the physical and psychological aspects of opioid use disorder. Some of the common treatment options include medication-assisted treatment (MAT), methadone treatment, buprenorphine treatment, and naltrexone treatment.

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) is a comprehensive approach to treating opioid addiction that combines medications with counseling and behavioral therapies. This evidence-based treatment approach has been recommended by the World Health Organization.

MAT involves the use of medications such as methadone, buprenorphine, or naltrexone to help reduce withdrawal symptoms, cravings, and the risk of relapse. These medications work by targeting the same receptors in the brain that opioids bind to, thus reducing the effects of opioid use.

Methadone Treatment

Methadone is a long-acting opioid medication that has been used for decades in the treatment of opioid addiction. It helps to stabilize individuals by reducing cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Methadone treatment is usually provided through specialized clinics under close medical supervision.

The dosage and administration of methadone are carefully monitored to ensure safety and effectiveness. Methadone treatment has been shown to reduce the use of illegal opioids, decrease criminal activity, and improve social functioning.

Buprenorphine Treatment

Buprenorphine is another medication used in the treatment of opioid addiction. It is available in different formulations, including sublingual tablets, sublingual films, and long-acting implants. Buprenorphine works by binding to the same receptors in the brain as opioids, alleviating withdrawal symptoms and reducing cravings.

Buprenorphine treatment can be provided in various healthcare settings, including specialized treatment centers, physician offices, and qualified healthcare providers. This flexibility in administration allows for greater accessibility to treatment. Buprenorphine treatment has been associated with improved treatment retention and reduced illicit opioid use [2].

Naltrexone Treatment

Naltrexone is a medication that blocks the effects of opioids in the brain. It is available in both oral and injectable forms. Naltrexone treatment is typically used after the individual has gone through detoxification and is no longer physically dependent on opioids.

By blocking the opioid receptors, naltrexone prevents the euphoric effects of opioids, reducing the risk of relapse. It is often used in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies. Clinical trials have shown that naltrexone, when combined with behavioral therapy, can be an effective treatment for heroin addiction.

It's important to note that the choice of treatment should be based on an individual's specific needs and in consultation with a healthcare professional. Each treatment option has its own benefits and considerations, and what works for one person may not work for another.

Seeking help from a healthcare provider or contacting a national helpline for substance abuse, such as the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357), can provide valuable guidance and support.

The Role of Counseling and Support

When it comes to treating opiate addiction, counseling and support play a crucial role in helping individuals recover and maintain long-term sobriety. Two key components of counseling and support for opiate addiction are cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and participation in Narcotics Anonymous and support groups.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a widely recognized and effective form of therapy for treating opiate addiction. This therapeutic approach focuses on identifying and modifying negative thought patterns and behaviors associated with drug use. CBT helps individuals develop coping strategies, enhance motivation for change, and build skills to prevent relapse.

In a clinical trial conducted in St. Louis, Missouri, it was found that naltrexone therapy combined with cognitive-behavioral therapy was effective in treating heroin addiction. The study revealed that opiate-dependent individuals who received naltrexone and CBT reported fewer days of heroin use compared to those who received placebo and standard medical management. This highlights the importance of combining medication-assisted treatment with counseling for better treatment outcomes.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy can be conducted in individual or group settings, allowing individuals to work through their addiction-related challenges with the guidance of a trained therapist. Through CBT, individuals can gain a better understanding of the underlying factors contributing to their addiction, develop healthy coping mechanisms, and learn techniques to manage cravings and triggers.

Narcotics Anonymous and Support Groups

Participation in support groups, such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA), can provide invaluable support and encouragement for individuals recovering from opiate addiction. NA follows a 12-step program, offering a safe and judgment-free space for individuals to share their experiences, seek guidance, and receive support from others who have gone through similar challenges.

In addition to NA, there are various support groups available that cater specifically to individuals recovering from opiate addiction. These groups provide a sense of community and understanding, fostering a supportive environment where individuals can share their struggles, celebrate achievements, and seek advice from peers who are on a similar recovery journey.

Support groups offer a platform for individuals to build a network of sober connections, access valuable resources, and gain insights into different strategies for maintaining sobriety. Sharing experiences and learning from others who have successfully overcome opiate addiction can be empowering and motivating.

Incorporating counseling and support into opiate addiction treatment enhances the effectiveness of medication-assisted treatments such as methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone. The combination of therapy and support groups not only addresses the physical aspects of addiction but also helps individuals develop the necessary emotional and psychological tools to navigate recovery successfully.

Comprehensive Care for Opioid Addiction

When it comes to addressing opioid addiction, comprehensive care is essential to support individuals on their journey to recovery. This approach involves a combination of different treatment modalities and professionals working together to provide holistic care and support. Two key aspects of comprehensive care for opioid addiction include an interprofessional approach to treatment and coordinating opioid use disorder (OUD) care.

Interprofessional Approach to Treatment

An interprofessional approach is crucial for the appropriate treatment of OUD. This approach involves a team of healthcare professionals, including physicians, nurses, pharmacists, therapists, and addiction and substance use professionals, working together to coordinate OUD care [5]. Effective communication and collaboration among team members are essential for a successful treatment plan.

Each member of the interprofessional team has a unique role to play in supporting individuals with opioid addiction. Physicians or advanced practice providers are responsible for prescribing medications and overseeing the medical management of OUD.

Nurses provide ongoing monitoring, education, and support to patients. Pharmacists play a critical role in medication management and ensuring safe and appropriate medication use. Therapists and addiction professionals provide counseling and behavioral interventions to address the psychological and emotional aspects of addiction.

By working collaboratively, the interprofessional team can provide comprehensive and individualized care, addressing both the physical and psychological aspects of opioid addiction. This approach increases the likelihood of successful treatment outcomes and long-term recovery.

Coordinating OUD Care

Coordinating OUD care is another important aspect of comprehensive treatment. The selection of treatment options should be based on patient-specific factors, taking into account factors such as the severity of addiction, individual preferences, and potential medication interactions. Three commonly used medications for OUD treatment include methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone [5].

Methadone is an oral mu-receptor agonist that is typically used in opioid replacement therapy. Buprenorphine, a partial mu-receptor agonist, is gradually increased to achieve an effective dose. Naltrexone, on the other hand, works by blocking the effects of opioids and may be used in patients with OUD.

Coordinating OUD care also involves the integration of counseling and support services. Patients with OUD are encouraged to participate in self-help programs such as Narcotics Anonymous, which provide group therapy and support. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is another effective approach when combined with medications [5].

Efforts have been made to expand the availability of OUD treatment beyond specialty methadone clinics. This includes integrating treatment into various settings such as emergency departments, hospitals, and criminal justice settings.

Telemedicine and mobile treatment platforms are also being developed to support the remote delivery of medication and associated services in underserved areas. Additionally, hub-and-spoke systems have been implemented, where patients transition from intensive treatment settings to office-based providers in their communities, improving access to treatment and support [6].

By coordinating OUD care and embracing an interprofessional approach, individuals with opioid addiction can receive comprehensive, individualized, and integrated treatment. This multi-faceted approach addresses the complex nature of addiction and increases the chances of successful recovery.

Accessing Help for Opioid Addiction

Seeking help for opioid addiction is a crucial step towards recovery. There are various resources available to assist individuals in their journey to overcome addiction. In this section, we will explore some of the key avenues for accessing help.

National Helpline for Substance Abuse

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) provides a National Helpline to support individuals and families facing mental health and substance use disorders, including those struggling with opiate addiction treatment. The helpline can be reached at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). Trained professionals are available 24/7 to provide confidential assistance, referral services, and information on treatment options.

Resources and Support for Treatment

In addition to helplines, there are numerous resources and support services available for individuals seeking treatment for opiate addiction. These resources may include online contact forms, emails, chats, and dedicated texting services. They offer multiple communication channels to cater to diverse needs and ensure individuals can easily access the assistance they need.

Support for opiate addiction treatment extends to specific populations such as adults, youth, frontline workers, and parents. Tailored assistance is provided through dedicated texting services and online support groups, allowing individuals to connect with others who have similar experiences and challenges [7].

Overdose Prevention and Naloxone Programs

Overdose prevention is a critical aspect of opiate addiction treatment. Naloxone, an antidote for opioid overdose, plays a crucial role in saving lives. In Canada, individuals can access naloxone through the Naloxone Finder - Take Home Program, which provides a list of naloxone distribution sites. The program can be reached by calling or texting 1-855-662-6605 or texting CONNEX to 247247 [7].

It's important to note that access to treatment for opioid addiction remains a challenge. According to a study published on the National Center for Biotechnology Information, only about 20% of Americans with opioid use disorder receive treatment, and even fewer receive evidence-based treatment options like methadone and buprenorphine.

This contrasts sharply with the treatment rates for other serious medical conditions. For instance, about 90% of Americans with cancer receive treatment while only 10% of Americans with opioid use disorder do.

By utilizing the available helplines, resources, and support services, individuals struggling with opioid addiction can access the help they need to begin their recovery journey. It is essential to reach out and take advantage of these services to receive the guidance, treatment, and support necessary for overcoming opioid addiction.


[1]: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/opioid-use-disorder

[2]: https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/featured-topics/treatment-recovery.html

[3]: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18443635/

[4]: https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/national-helpline

[5]: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK553166/

[6]: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7081076/

[7]: https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/substance-use/get-help-with-substance-use.html

Young Adult Opiate Addiction Treatment: Find a New Way of Life with Kiwi Recovery

Quality substance use disorder treatment is an essential part of recovery. And at Kiwi Recovery, we rely on comprehensive, evidence-based treatment methods that have helped countless teens and young adults. If you’re ready to start young adult opiate addiction program or just want more information, contact Kiwi Recovery at 617.545.3344 today.