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Opioids are a type of medicine often used to help relieve pain. They lower the number of pain signals your body sends to your brain and changes how your brain responds to pain. Prescribed opioids usually are safe when they are used correctly, but people who misuse opioids can become addicted. Not all opioids are prescribed by a doctor however. Heroin is a popular opioid that has become a dangerously common street drug.
Opioid dependence causes withdrawal symptoms, which can make it impossible for users to stop taking them without intervention. Addiction occurs when dependence interferes with daily life. Signs and symptoms can be physical, behavioral and psychological. A primary sign of addiction is the inability to limit use of a substance beyond what is clinically recommended.
Symptoms include, but are not limited to, loss of consciousness, unresponsiveness, vomiting, erratic breathing or no breathing, erratic pulse or no pulse and pinpoint pupils.
Treatment is different for each person, but the main goal is to stop use (detox) and avoid future use (avoiding relapse). To help patients stop use, doctors can prescribe certain medicines to help relieve withdrawal symptoms and control cravings. After detox, behavioral treatments such as individual counseling, group or family counseling, and various types of behavioral therapy can help individuals learn how to manage depression, avoid the drug, help with cravings and heal damaged relationships.
Suboxone is a medication prescribed to patients struggling with an addiction to opioids such as heroin. Suboxone provides relief from the physical symptoms of withdrawal while also keeping cravings for continued opioid use at bay. Suboxone utilizes a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone. Buprenorphine provides patients with relief from the physical symptoms of withdrawal but will not cause the same euphoric high of opioids. It allows patients to focus on recovery without craving additional opioids. Buprenorphine tightly binds to opiate receptors in the brain responsible for the “high” feeling of opioid use. In essence it prevents one from feeling the euphoric effects of other opioids while on Suboxone and possibly prevents overdose.