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When someone’s brain has been altered through chronic use or misuse of opioids, life can feel like a runaway train. Eventually, any stops along the way that relate to family, work and other pursuits are a blur. The only stop that matters is one that leads to the user’s drug of choice.
Many people who struggle with the cravings and compulsive use of opioids long to get off the train before it derails, but they don’t know where to start. Maybe they have tried to stop on their own, but the anxiety and physical symptoms of withdrawal got in the way.
If this describes you or a loved one, help is available. Take that critical first step by calling Linden Oaks Behavioral Health to schedule a one-on-one confidential assessment. The discussion will cover your health and drug use history, and whether there are related concerns, such as anxiety or depression. After consultation with a psychiatrist, the counselor will make recommendations based on the findings.
When you’re ready to start the work of recovery, uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms can be a major barrier.
Says Aaron Weiner, PhD, Director of Addictions Services at Linden Oaks, “You might experience bad flu-like symptoms, such as muscle aches and fatigue. There are ways of managing these symptoms. Although withdrawal from opioids can’t kill you, it can be extremely uncomfortable, stopping many from wanting to move forward towards health.”
Tackling withdrawal: two options
The first option, ongoing medication-assisted therapy, can be initiated either in an inpatient or outpatient environment. Some addiction programs administer methadone, but at the Linden Oaks Medication-Assisted Therapy (MAT) Clinic, patients receive Suboxone, which is a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone, which is used to reverse overdoses.
“Buprenorphine is less sedating than methadone and easier than methadone to taper off from when the person is ready to stay sober without any pharmaceutical assistance,” says Dr. Weiner.
According to the Merck Manual Consumer Version, “In many countries, buprenorphine has replaced methadone in detoxification programs.”
Linden Oaks’ MAT Clinic also features medical supervision, regular drug testing and group therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy, a key approach used in the group sessions, helps patients challenge negative patterns of thought that lead to unwanted consequences, such as acting on cravings.
Going off opioids by tapering
A second option is short-term management of withdrawal symptoms while the body rids itself of opioids. As is the case with MAT, this approach is followed by counseling and other long-term support. For those choosing this option, Linden Oaks staff can help ease withdrawal symptoms in the medically monitored inpatient detoxification unit. There, under the care of a psychiatrist and other Linden Oaks addiction specialists, support, monitoring and medications for specific symptoms, such as anti-nausea pills, are provided.
Says Dr. Weiner, “This approach can work for some, especially if they’ve only been using opioids for a short time. But in general, studies have found up to a 90 percent relapse rate for people who don’t use medications to begin their period of sobriety from opioids.
Finding the right next step for you
For those choosing to begin sobriety with the help of Linden Oaks’ MAT Clinic, services are available without a physician’s order to anyone who wants to begin the process of change. A patient can start at the clinic, or move there after an inpatient, residential or outpatient treatment program.
In addition to the MAT Clinic, Linden Oaks Addiction Services offers a variety of treatment levels, including weekly outpatient therapy sessions, structured programs that run 3-6 hours each weekday, and a full-time residential program. Linden Oaks offers addiction treatment services in Naperville, Plainfield, St. Charles, Hinsdale and Arlington Heights.
To learn more about mental health issues or to access a free one-on-one DepressionAware assessment, call 630-305-5027 or make an appointment online.
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