Heroin and Opioid Addiction

Heroin and opioid addiction are forms of substance abuse treated by Dr. Fehling in this clinic.  The term ‘opioid’ usually refers to prescription painkillers such as Vicodin or Oxycontin.  These drugs are addictive in that they lead to loss of control regarding use, tolerance, and withdrawal.  Tolerance means that more of the drug is required over time to reach the same desired effect.  Withdrawal means the collection of physical symptoms one feels if stopping the drug.  Withdrawal from heroin and opiate addiction often involves diarrhea, muscle aching and cramps, and restlessness.

These drugs are sometimes started in a recreational way, but often lead to addiction through prescriptions.  Examples of this include a surgery or chronic pain inappropriately managed.  Over time, a person may find themselves enjoying the calming effects of the painkillers, asking for more from their doctor, and being unable to cut down.  Many patients also turn to illegal ways of finding these drugs such as off the street or from family members’ prescriptions.

Treatment for heroin and opioid addiction may require replacement therapy.  The most common medication used for opiate replacement in an office setting is called Suboxone.  This med relieves withdrawal and prevents cravings to use.  The patient does develop dependency to Suboxone, but it is in a controlled and manageable way.  Suboxone is approved by the FDA for the treatment of heroin and opioid addiction.  Dr. Fehling has a special licensure to prescribe Suboxone to patients if it is clinically recommended.

Other treatment for heroin and opioid addiction involves abstinence and group therapy.  Narcotics Anonymous is very effective treatment throughout America.  Prior to starting NA, many patients have to ‘detox.’  Detox can be done with the help of a treatment center or sometimes with a clinician.  It is important to mention that withdrawal from heroin and opioid addiction is not life-threatening.  It is very uncomfortable, but will resolve on its own over a few days.  Detox centers can help this process go more smoothly.