Treatment Comparison: Opioid Prescription Drug Abuse vs. Heroin Abuse
Prescription opioid painkillers and heroin have a lot in common. They are both opioids, with chemicals that bind to receptors on cells in the brain and body. Addiction to either drug is very serious, but treatment is possible.
Not surprisingly, the process for opioid detox is similar to detox from heroin. Here’s what to know about the steps to recovery for both drugs.
How Are Prescription Painkillers and Heroin Similar?
Several drugs fall into the class of “opioid.” Many are prescription painkiller medications, including oxycodone, hydrocodone and morphine.
Heroin is also an opioid. Opioids block pain receptors, while simultaneously affecting the brain’s reward system. This can result in a euphoric feeling, or high. On a molecular level, the chemicals in both drugs are almost identical.
Someone with a heroin addiction and someone with a prescription opioid addiction both suffer dependencies on essentially the same substance. The signs and symptoms of dependency are the same for both heroin and prescription opioid drugs. The similarities between prescription opioids and heroin are what have driven the dramatic increase in heroin-related overdoses in recent years.
Many people who become dependent on prescription pills will turn to the black market to stave off withdrawal when they can no longer legally obtain the opioids. Many turn to heroin for the same effects.
To further complicate the matter, there has been an influx of counterfeit pain medications into the black market that actually contain fentanyl – a potent and potentially deadly opioid substance.
Fast Action Is Important for Both Types of Abuse
It is a misconception that heroin addiction is more serious than prescription painkiller addiction. In many ways, the two drugs are identical. Medical professionals need to treat someone with a prescription opioid addiction as if he or she were using heroin.
Similarities between the two drugs include:
- In terms of substance dependency and withdrawal, the two are the same.
- The urgency to get both types of users into detox as fast as possible is the same.
- Heroin and prescription drugs both pose high risks of death from overdose.
- Withdrawal from either drugs can be deadly if the user is not in a medically assisted detox setting.
- Fentanyl disguised as prescription painkillers puts both types of users at risk of death from accidental exposure.
In April 2016, the first reports of fentanyl pills marketed as generic oxycodone on the black market surfaced. Police attributed 14 deaths in California and nine in Florida to counterfeit painkillers.
Fentanyl is an opioid that’s 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. It can be fatal in tiny doses. Fast enrollment in a detox center is crucial to preventing overdose deaths – especially with camouflaged fentanyl floating around.
Similarities and Differences Between Prescription Opioid Detox and Heroin Detox
Both types of addiction are life threatening and require professional treatment. A detox center will treat both types of addiction almost exactly the same, except perhaps for small differences in approach. During detox, professional physicians will usually administer medications that help ease the symptoms of opioid withdrawal to make the process as painless as possible.
Slowly, the physician will start to remove the opioids from the system, replacing them with the detox drugs and possibly supplements and nutritious meals. Weaning users off slowly is critical to their overall health and the success of recovery.
After detox, it’s not wise to jump right back into the real world. Most addictions stem from underlying issues, such as trauma or mental health conditions. The full rehabilitation process is important for long-term recovery from both types of opioids.
The main difference between prescription painkiller detox and heroin addiction treatment is the rehabilitation process. During rehab, the user will need to learn skills that help prevent relapse, as well as how to live a fulfilling, sober lifestyle. This might take different steps depending on the drug.
The Importance of Personalized Opioid Addiction Treatment
Successful recovery from opioids depends in large part on the treatment center. While addiction recovery is a very personal endeavor, the support system and professional help available during the process can make or break the process.
Another similarity between prescription painkiller rehab and heroin rehab is that both require individualized treatment tailored to the person. This is true for all types of substance abuse disorders. Recovery is not one size fits all. It takes treatment that’s specific to the individual for the best outcomes.
At Reflections Recovery Center, we understand the similarities and differences in treatment for various substances and forms of the same substance. We offer opioid addiction treatment for all forms of this drug. You won’t find cookie-cutter treatment plans for heroin or opioid pills here: All guests of our programs receive 100 percent customized treatment.
It’s important for each individual to receive a treatment plan that addresses his or her specific needs. This includes dual diagnosis treatment for underlying issues, trauma-informed therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder, and dietary/nutritional therapy to address deficiencies in diet.
Highly specific programs help those in treatment have an easier time adjusting to sober life, and more readily accept the recovery process.
What to Know About Heroin and Prescription Drug Rehab
Despite the striking similarities between heroin and prescription painkillers, there is not one recovery plan that’s appropriate for everyone. While detox treatment for either drugs has many things in common with the other, it is the customization of both processes that will facilitate successful recovery.
At Reflections Recovery Center, our all-men treatment programs are so individualized and specific that clients clearly see the path to long-term recovery. We take the time to truly address all aspects of a person’s addiction and mental health struggles.
Whether you need treatment for an opioid addiction or know a man who does, Reflections Recovery Center is a premier destination. We help individuals understand how recovery and sobriety fit into their lives, and how to say goodbye to substances for good.
Let us walk you through a heroin and/or opioid prescription drug rehab program specific to your unique needs. With our help, opioid addiction recovery is more attainable than you might think.