Opium: Treatment and rehabilitation

Last modified: Saturday, 20. June 2009 - 2:28 pm

An assortment of treatments for opiate drug abusers are tailored to the needs of each user, including behavioral interventions such as counseling, psychotherapy, family therapy, and the use of support groups, treatment with medications, or some combination of both of these approaches. Research has even looked at acupuncture as part of treatment programs. Programs vary greatly in length and may include outpatient and/or inpatient treatments.
Medically assisted narcotic treatment programs use medications that suppress withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings while the person undergoes behavioral therapy and/or receives other health-related services. These maintenance therapies supply regular doses of a drug that keeps the addict from experiencing withdrawal symptoms, drug cravings, or highs. Methadone and LAAM (levo-alpha-acetyl-methadol) are medications often used in these programs.
Heroin abusers comprise the vast majority of those in treatment for opiate abuse. According to the SAMH-SA’s Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS), only 1% of admissions for addiction treatment recorded in 1999 were related to opiates other than heroin. However, the number of these admissions that was for opium itself cannot be determined from the available data because opium is categorized with all other drugs with morphinelike effects. Methadone was part of the treatment plan for 22% of those admitted.
Treatment programs are also needed to address the concerns of opiate users in developing countries. For example, some Afghan refugee camps have found a need to treat refugees for opium addiction. These refugees include laborers and those dealing with the pain of war wounds. In such situations, treatment options may include alternative medication and education.

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