A Doctor’s View On Treating Opioid Use

A Doctor’s View On Treating Opioid Use

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Dr. Myra Mathis is a board-certified addiction psychiatrist with the University of Rochester’s Strong Recovery Clinic. She shares common questions she receives from patients and their families about recovering from opioid use disorder and finding the right treatment.

1. Q: What is opioid use disorder? A: Opioid use disorder, in a nutshell, involves an unhealthy relationship with opioid drugs related to craving, control, and consequences–the three C’s. When you’re experiencing intense cravings for opioids, you may have to use more and more to get the desired effect, and you’re not able to control your use. You may have tried to cut back but are unsuccessful. As a result, you deal with the consequences: you may not be able to fulfill role obligations in your life, work, or personal relationships. You may use in dangerous situations and risk your health and wellbeing. The difficult withdrawal symptoms of stopping opioids can make it hard to completely quit, and you may struggle to give up the “escape” opioids offer you. But I want everyone to know: treatment for opioid use disorder works. Connecting with an addiction specialist can give you the tools to reach your goals and live a healthy life. You don’t have to go through this alone.

2. Q: What is opioid use disorder treatment like? A: Medications used to treat opioid use disorder are highly effective; they can stop opioid cravings, lessen or prevent withdrawal symptoms, and block opioids’ effects on the body–in combination with counseling and other supports. When you start on medication, we will first assess your health to make sure we understand your specific situation and choose the most effective treatment. You can expect regular urine toxicology screens to see what substances are in your system and if you have any other health concerns that should be addressed. We do this not to judge you, but to make sure the treatment we’re prescribing is safe for you to take. Mixing alcohol or medications like benzodiazepines with some of these treatments can lead to overdoses, and our main goal is to keep you safe

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A doctor’s view on treating opioid use

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