Inpatient Treatment for Opium Addiction
When the life of someone using opium becomes overrun with poor relationships and plagued by poor mental and physical health, the decision to pursue treatment in an opium recovery center is a necessity.
This article focuses on opium addiction treatment at inpatient or residential recovery facilities. It covers:
- The use of opium and its effects .
- The signs and symptoms of an opium addiction .
- Types of inpatient centers and how to choose one .
- What to expect in treatment .
What Is Opium?
Opium is one of the oldest drugs of abuse in the world. It is sourced from the poppy plant. As early as 5,000 B.C., poppy plants were grown around the Mediterranean Sea. 1 Since then, the source of opium has spread to Asia and the Middle East with high concentrations of growth in Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.
The poppy plant has a milky substance that oozes from incisions made in the unripe seed pod. Years ago, people would remove the substance, collect it and set it out to dry in the air. The end result is opium. Today, a more efficient, mechanized process is used to extract alkaloids from the mature dried plant for use in pharmaceuticals. 1
The active opioid alkaloids derived from the opium poppy are used to produce a number of other substances for both pharmaceutical and illicit use, including:
Methods of Use
As a drug of abuse, opium can be found in a number of forms, including:
- Liquid solution or tincture.
- A sticky, tar-like solid.
- A fine powder that is brown in color. 1
Unrefined opium is most often smoked or taken orally, although some individuals may also attempt to use opium as an injectable drug or inhale the powder nasally.
Effects of Opium
The effects of opium include:
- Feelings of euphoria.
- Reduced feelings of stress and worry.
- Decreased perception of pain.
Signs and Symptoms of Addiction
An addict may give up social, occupational or recreational activities in favor of opium use.
As someone continues to use opium, he or she will be more likely to experience symptoms of tolerance, physical dependence and addiction.
General signs and symptoms of an addiction to opium include: 2
- Using larger amounts of opium or over a longer period than intended.
- Being unable to cut down or control opium use.
- Spending large amounts of time obtaining, using or recovering from the effects of opium.
- Failing to fulfill obligations at home, work or school due to opium use.
- Continuing to use opium despite experiencing physical and mental health problems that were likely caused by opium use.
- Continuing to use despite relationship or interpersonal problems.
- Using opium in hazardous situations, such as driving a car or operating machinery.
- Giving up social, occupational or recreational activities to use opium.
- Tolerance: needing larger and larger amounts of opium to achieve intoxication or feeling less of an effect when the same amount of opium is used.
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you stop using opium, or using it to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms.
- Craving, or a strong urge to use opium.
Consequences of Abuse
People who regularly use opium may also experience negative effects, including: 2
- Dry mouth and nose.
- Vascular inflammation and puncture marks on the upper extremities (the “track marks” seen in some users who inject the drug).
- Bacterial endocarditis, hepatitis and HIV (in users who inject the drug).
- Irritation of the nasal mucosa and perforation of the nasal septum (in users who snort the drug).
- Difficulties in sexual functioning.
- Overdose and possibly death.
These symptoms can be compounded or modified when opium is used in combination with other drugs. Mixing opium with other depressants such as alcohol or sedatives can lead to dangerously slowed breathing and heart rate. Opium is sometimes smoked with marijuana only (“Buddha”) or with marijuana and methamphetamine (“Black”). 1
Seeking Help for an Opium Addiction
Seeking professional treatment for opium addiction and dependence can help prevent serious consequences in your life or in the life of someone you care about. It can also help ensure you stop using the substance safely and address any underlying issues that may be contributing to the addiction.
Quitting opium can be very difficult to do alone, especially if the person has been using the drug for a long time and abusing it with other substances. If someone tries to quit on their own, the person will experience a range of uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms as the substance leaves the body. These symptoms may include: 2
- Muscle aches.
- Lacrimation (tearing) or rhinorrhea (runny nose).
- Enlarged pupils.
- Chills and piloerection (i.e., goose bumps).
- Depressed mood.
- Physical pain.
- Increased sensitivity to pain.
Since these symptoms may remain intense for several days, many will begin to use opium or other opioid substances again in order to avoid these effects. But they are only delaying the withdrawal.
A treatment center with a professional medical staff can provide medications and supervision to make the withdrawal process as comfortable as possible and help prevent the person from relapsing.
Types of Inpatient Rehabilitation Programs
The most common types of residential treatment centers are listed below. While many inpatient facilities offer similar programs, they can greatly differ in terms of amenities, cost and length of treatment. It helps to do some research before choosing a program.
- Standard inpatient . These programs require you to live at the facility throughout the course of your treatment. You receive medical care and medically supervised detoxification (if necessary), individual and group therapy and aftercare planning. Many programs also offer recreational activities and 12-step meetings.
- Luxury . Luxury programs offer similar services to standard inpatient centers but include extra amenities such as private rooms, fine dining and spa treatments. They also tend to be located in very desirable locations such as beachfront or other vacation-like settings.
- Executive or CEO . Executive programs are designed for people who need an immersive treatment approach, but are not able to be away from work for extended periods of time. In these programs, you are able to participate in a recovery program while continuing to meet with clients, use the Internet and talk on the phone.
Outpatient is cheaper but may not be intensive enough for some users.
Some people may not be able to commit to an inpatient program for certain reasons: cost, commitment or other obligations at home or at work. Outpatient recovery centers are another option for treatment that tend to be less expensive. They allow you to attend a program for a certain number of hours on certain days of the week and then return home at night.
However, these programs do not remove you from your day-to-day using environment and may not be intensive enough for people with more severe addictions.
What to Look for
In addition to choosing a particular type of inpatient recovery program, you will want to consider other factors about the program, such as:
- How much does it cost? Luxury and executive programs tend to be more expensive than standard residential programs. The amount of time you spend in treatment and your insurance will also affect the cost.
- Where is the program located? Some people find that they need to get away from their current environment to avoid distractions and triggers. Others find that being close to home and the support of family and friends helps their recovery.
- How long will treatment last? Opium recovery programs generally run anywhere from 30 days to 60 days , or even 90 days in some cases. You can talk to your treatment team about the length of care that is right for you.
- Will visitors be allowed? Visitors can be a mixed blessing for people in an opium recovery center. Sometimes, the moral support they bring can be the deciding factor in an addict’s successful recovery. In other cases, they may bring a host of new problems.
- What can be brought to the opium recovery facility? Some recovery facilities have fairly relaxed rules about items that can be brought in, while others are very strict. Check the rules before you begin the program.
- Is there help after discharge? A consistently important factor when assessing the risk of relapse is the existence or lack of aftercare program participation once you discharge. Time spent in a sober living home , the support of a 12-step group or the availability of a peer group of fellow addicts in recovery can lower the likelihood you will slip and suffer a relapse.
What to Expect in Treatment
For many that begin the path to recovery, medically supervised detoxification is the first step. During this process, medical professionals observe and treat the person as their body processes and eliminates opium from their system.
The treatment team may administer medications to reduce or relieve withdrawal symptoms. Or they may recommend a longer-term medication-assisted treatment using another opioid substance such as:
- Methadone .
The use of medications to ease withdrawal symptoms and cravings, and to ultimately help someone stop using opium, depends on the person’s individual needs, length and severity of use and physical condition.
Following the period of detoxification, the person can be transitioned into the treatment program at the opium recovery center. Programs can range from 1 to 3 months, with some people needing longer stays based on their level of addiction and needs.
While in the treatment center, the person will receive a range of treatments that focus on his or her physical health, mental health and spiritual health. Behavioral therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy , contingency management , and motivational interviewing are common, with goals that include:
- Building an understanding of addiction to opium and other substances.
- Identifying triggers and factors that lead to use.
- Treating any underlying physical health concerns, such as chronic pain, that can contribute to opium use.
- Improving quality of life at home and in the community to establish a better environment upon discharge.
- Rewarding and reinforcing periods of time abstaining from opium and other substance use.
Treating Co-Occurring Conditions
The abuse of opioid substances such as opium can lead to a number of physical and mental problems. When these co-occur with an opium addiction, it is known as a dual diagnosis .
During the intake process, an inpatient opium recovery center should screen for the following conditions and develop an integrated treatment plan to address these problems in addition to the addiction:
- Viral and bacterial infections, particularly for intravenous users (HIV, hepatitis C)
- Other substance use disorders, including tobacco, marijuana, alcohol, stimulants and benzodiazepines.
- Depression or anxiety disorders.
- Antisocial personality disorder, which is more common among individuals with opioid use disorder than in the general population.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder. 2
Finding Great Treatment
. Drug Enforcement Administration. Drug Fact Sheet: Opium .
. American Psychiatric Association. (2013).Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.