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Opioids are a class of drugs that include a range of substances, including heroin, synthetic fentanyl, and more commonly known and prescribed drugs such as oxycodone, hydrocodone (Vicodin), and morphine. These drugs are traditionally used for pain management and have been at the core of the nationwide opioid epidemic. They work by attaching themselves to proteins in the body called opioid receptors, which are found on nerve cells in the brain, spinal cord, and other parts of the body. When this happens, the opioids block pain messages that are sent from the body through the spinal cord to the brain.
While most opioid pain relievers are safe when taken as prescribed by a medical professional and for a short time, they are often misused and can lead to a chemical and physical dependence.
The epidemic that is opioid addiction is nothing new, but in the DMV (D.C., Maryland, & Virginia) area, opioid-related deaths and addiction are becoming more and more common. Maryland is among the top five states with the highest rate of opioid-related deaths, and their death rate has been above the national average since 1999.
Officials are working to make changes in policy and allocating more funding towards ending the grief and loss that addiction so often results in, but little progress has been made. One of the positive changes has been made is an increase in the use of Naloxone, or Narcan, which is a drug that reverses the effects of an overdose. Often administered by first responders, it has saved many, many lives.
While this is, of course, a very positive thing, the administration of Naloxone does not treat addiction. People who are struggling with substance use disorders often are using drugs and alcohol to “numb out”, or to avoid the symptoms of co-occurring mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder. Because of this, it is essential for them to receive treatment, often on a long-term basis.
Programs like Sandstone Care that offer a continuum of care are essential in order for people struggling with substance abuse to have success in their recovery process. Treatment is different for everyone, and everyone has a different reason for using the substances that they do. Because there isn’t just one reason for substance abuse, there has to be more than one way of treating it; evidence-based treatments such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Mindfulness, and many other modalities are all used to treat the individual as a whole instead of just treating their addiction.
Access to treatment can be difficult, but is possible! Sandstone Care offers Medical Detox, Adolescent Residential, Residential Extended Care, Day Treatment (PHP), and Intensive Outpatient (IOP) services specializing in working with teens and emerging adults in Maryland and Virginia. In addition to offering several levels of care, we also partner with several organizations that provide care and resources that truly have the best interest of the client at heart.