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Peter Wallace

3 Ways to Prevent Opioid Addiction Relapse

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Peter Wallace, (2017, March 27). 3 Ways to Prevent Opioid Addiction Relapse. Psychreg on General. https://www.psychreg.org/opioid-addiction/
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An opioid is a type of drug produced by the opium poppy plant and works as pain relievers by blocking off signals in the brain which causes mental or physical agony. As some amount is mixed in medicines, these are sometimes prescribed to patients post-surgery to numb the pain receptors and treat conditions like anxiety and posttraumatic stress disorder

Opioid addiction specifically refers to the opium-based narcotics, pointing towards the substance abuse through drugs such as heroin, morphine or oxycodone, and even overdose of medication in some cases.

Getting off from opioid Addiction is difficult and can cause relapse. Here are some ways you can avoid that:

Switch to suboxone-based treatments

Commonly prescribed treatments for an opioid addict is MAT( medication-assisted therapy) which uses the primary medication called suboxone. Suboxone treatment uses a combination of buprenorphine, naloxone, and methadone.

These medications, when taken in pairs, produce a binding effect around the brain receptors the same way opiates have. Naloxone withdraws the high-feeling that opioids would have on the addict. Meanwhile, buprenorphine and methadone produce similar feelings to opioids to counter the withdrawal symptoms. 

According to Harvard Medical School, MAT has successfully helped reduce substance overdose by as much as 50%. This is due to the effect suboxone has on the brain and body which flushes out opioid intoxication from the system and lowers opioid cravings, aiding people in returning to normalcy and reducing a chance of a relapse.

A great number of healthcare specialists strongly suggest suboxone as a life-saving drug against the addiction of opium as it doesn’t make the patient suffer. But to contain its prolonged effects, it is important to continue Suboxone in recommended doses while taking other treatments that MAT offers. 

Get into therapy

Other than suboxone treatments, it is also vital to understand what leads to opioid cravings to start with. You might get irritated while taking naloxone and fantasise about the highs of opium. To continue any medication, it is recommended to get into therapy. The best ones to treat an Opioid addict include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT.

This will help stop the negative thinking patterns that led to opium addiction in the past and develop stress management skills, streamlining your thoughts towards more productive channels.

As a preventive measure, you can also talk to your counsellor whenever a thought about relapse occurs. Understand the stimulus that brings the sudden urge to return to Opioids. Your counsellor might suggest you to spend more time in nature as a therapy. You can also join a relapse support group where you can discuss your cravings and find great strategies to control them.

Exchange the ‘high’ with better things

When you recognise the external stimulus or triggers that can lead to a relapse, you feel more in control of the situation. One of the reasons why Opioid addiction might come back is when you don’t find pleasure in anything else as your body is undergoing its detoxification process.

Being in the opium cycle can leave you less sensitive towards natural and recreational sources of happiness. 

Opting for rich foods that keep your brain relaxed is one way of heading towards a complete recovery. Avoid foods such as caffeine, spices, fizzy drinks that can evoke feelings of depression. Discuss your lifestyle with a dietitian and fitness instructor.

Join a gym or dance classes to manage stress. Keep yourself busy with work that makes you happy. Surround yourself with people that can play a positive role in your recovery. Do not contact people that can entice or force you to get back to opioids.

Recovering from opioids once and for all is a crucial task and demands solutions and medications that prevent any future cravings. Most of them can be treated with proper treatments and therapies. Remember, by leaving an addiction you are helping yourself to a better lifestyle.

*** Image credit: Freepik


Peter Wallace has been an advocate for mental health awareness for years. He holds a master’s degree in counselling from the University of Edinburgh.


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