Opioids: What, Why & How of Addiction & Recovery

The opioid crisis continues in our area and across the nation. CDP Healthcare’s Compass Care program is working hard to against opioid addiction by focusing on education, prevention, and recovery. Many don’t understand what opioids really are or why people become addicted, so the Compass Care team aims to answer critical questions and help those who need it.

What are opioids?

Opioid is a broad term. It includes medications that are used in medical settings as well as illicit substances. In the medical setting, opioids are most commonly prescribed for pain relief. Some of the common ones are oxycodone, hydrocodone, and fentanyl.

Why do people get put on opioids?

It is common for someone to be prescribed an opioid medication after sustaining an injury or having a surgery. Opioids are also sometimes used for chronic pain conditions when other therapies have failed.

How does someone become addicted to opioids?

There are two common ways people find their way to opioid dependence:

One is that an individual is prescribed opioid medications by their doctor for an extended period of time. The body naturally develops a tolerance to the opioid medication requiring higher doses to maintain relief. Eventually the body gets used to the opioid always being present and needs constant levels of the medication to avoid experiencing withdrawals. This extended use of opioids for pain, even when taken as prescribed, can lead to a person becoming dependent on the medication to the point that they would become physically ill if they stopped taking it “cold turkey.” Because of this, sometimes patients continue requesting opioids from their provider even after their window for needing pain relief has passed just to avoid the withdrawal effects.

Another reason for opioid dependence can begin after an individual gets “high” from an opioid and likes the way it makes them feel, often euphoric and relaxed. This can occur through using illicit opioids or by misusing prescribed opioids. Tolerance quickly develops in these cases and again requires bigger doses or more doses, to get a “high.” This leads to risk of overdose and death.

How can someone overcome their opioid dependence?

Whether an individual has become dependent on opioids after taking them as prescribed or as a result of illicit use, Compass Care is able to create an individualized treatment plan for support and recovery.

The first step is creating and executing a plan to stop using the substance. This starts through a person working with the addiction medical care team and being prescribed Medication Assisted Treatment. Medication Assisted Treatment or “MAT” is the use of medications to treat substance use disorders. The medication used opioid dependence is called Suboxone. Suboxone works by easing the opioid withdrawal symptoms and providing long-term relief through reducing and oftentimes eliminating cravings for opioids.

After beginning Medication Assisted Treatment, Compass Care works with the individual to create a person-centered plan by providing them the tools they need for success such as peer support, counseling, primary medical care services and assistance with food, housing, and employment.

How can someone who is dependent on opioids get help?

They can call the Compass Care team at CDP Health at 605-419-1021 or visit cdphealth.com. The Compass Care team continues to see amazing stories of recovery happening right in the community.