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Challenges in Opiate Addiction Recovery

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Medically reviewed: 01/22/2019
Last updated: 05/13/2019
Author: Addictions.com Medical Review

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Opiate addiction recovery can turn into a lifelong process for many people affected by opiate addiction. Opiates, one of the most addictive classes of drugs, are well known for their high abuse, dependency and addiction potential. While treatment for opiate addictions have proven effective in helping people live drug-free, opiate addiction recovery is not without its challenges.

The severity of opiate addictions can create challenges in virtually all stages of opiate addiction recovery, from the detoxification stage to long-term aftercare treatment stages. As everyone’s situation is different, some people may have more difficulty (or less difficulty) than others when dealing with the types of challenges opiate addiction recovery can bring.

Detoxification Challenges

Opiate Addiction Recovery

Overcoming addiction comes with challenges – being aware of them will help you succeed!

The detoxification challenges associated with opiate addiction recovery pose the biggest hurdle for many people affected by opiate addictions. Once the body becomes used to a steady supply of opiates, stopping the drug means a person will endure difficult withdrawal effects. Someone trying to go it alone, without the benefits of treatment, must contend with the physical imbalances caused by opiates and the body’s reaction to going without the drug.

According to Harvard Health Publications, withdrawal effects most often encountered at this point include:

  • Muscle aches
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Tremors
  • Hot and cold flashes
  • Nausea

More oftentimes than not, the withdrawal effects become so intense that a person will relapse if only to gain relief from withdrawal.

People who’ve been in opiate addiction recovery for a while may still experience mild, ongoing withdrawal effects in the form of an overall sense of malaise and discontent. These effects result from the damage done to the body’s chemical processes. These processes play a central role in maintaining the type of equilibrium that enables a person to feel “at ease,” both physically and emotionally.

Methadone Maintenance Risks

For long-term opiate addiction recovery, methadone medication treatment provides relief from the types of ongoing drug cravings that often drive a person to relapse. Even though methadone has been used as a maintenance treatment for opiate addictions for decades, this medication does carry its own set of addiction risks.

Methadone works as a substitute drug that enables recovering addicts to be weaned off of opiate effects without experiencing ongoing withdrawal symptoms. Methadone, in and of itself, is an opiate-type drug, which means a person can get addicted to methadone treatment over time. When this happens, other medications may be helpful in weaning a person off of methadone and opiates for good.

Mental Cognition Issues

Long-term opiate addiction can cause considerable damage to a person’s cognitive functioning abilities. Cognitive functioning affects a person’s ability to think clearly and problem-solve. This kind of damage can make it difficult for someone to hold down a job or plan for the future.

Many opiate addiction recovery programs offer services designed to help improve a person’s cognitive functioning. Many of these same programs also offer job placement assistance services. The longer a person remains drug-free the better the chance of regaining full cognitive function. Staying connected with a recovery program can greatly improve a person’s chances of maintaining abstinence and receiving needed treatment services.