What is 'Opiate Addiction' ? ....
Medications known as 'Opiates' or 'Opioids' are an extremely useful form of pain relief (analgesia) if used short term and as directed, they are derived from morphine and come in many differing forms (such as codeine, co-codamol, MST, pethidine, oxycodone and even tramadol).
These are medicines usually prescribed to you by a doctor, but can also be obtained elsewhere, including over the counter at a chemist. There is an increasing problem with opiates being misused and people becoming unintentionally dependent or 'hooked' on them- possibly causing an addiction to medicines. (see here)
Heroin is also an opiate, and its substitutes used in treatment of addiction such as buprenorphine and methadone are known as opioids. Some people that are prescribed 'maintenance' doses of these drugs can be classed as drug free (i.e. not using heroin on top of their prescription) but still have to take medication every day to stop them experiencing withdrawal symptoms. This routine can be very binding socially too, as often, people have to attend a chemist to be dispensed medicine every day.
If not used as prescribed or if taken longer than necessary, opiates (and opioids) are all physically addictive and your body can build up a tolerance to them, making them less effective at doing there job.
As your body becomes used to them, more and more are required to reach the same level of effectiveness, and before people realise, they're taking too much, their prescriptions end too soon and they're back at the Doctors asking for a repeat. This behaviour continues and the problem may worsen as the amount of opiates taken continues to increase with your tolerance to them.
This eventually leads to dependence and addiction, which can be very uncomfortable to stop or to come off of (described as having severe case of flu and a stomach bug together). The psychological aspects of an addiction are complex and may require ongoing support to help prevent a lapse or relapse.
It also causes your pain threshold to be askew and it is important to learn that when you reduce and discontinue taking opiates of any kind, your tolerance to them is vastly reduced, and any return to using them should be done with extreme caution.
AIM intends to advise and educate you as to what may be happening with your dependence to opiates, and support you in reducing and discontinuing this as safely and in as little discomfort as possible, liaising with your GP and other health care providers so they are aware of ongoing support.
To reduce and discontinue a substitute medication such as methadone (physeptone) or buprenorphine (subutex) would require a planned reduction with your prescriber to a level where a detox is more achievable. Many treatment services do not offer this option of recovery in your community due to the demographics and logistics of doing so.
Addiction Intervention Management intends to provide you with this service, tailored to meet YOUR needs and achieve YOUR goals.
All services are confidential and you can contact AIM to simply ask for advice if you are unsure what support you, your family member, your colleague or friend may benefit from the most.
A community detox (home detox) from opiates is explained in detail here. If you would like further advice, you can email AIM, contact by phone or complete the on-line enquiry form which is sent directly.
It is important to know that opiates are a sedative drug and will have an affect upon your breathing, if they are used with other sedative drugs (such as alcohol, tranquilisers and other opiates/opioids) then you are dramatically increasing the risk of respiratory depression and this ultimately is lethal.