Matt Pabis, MD
Family Medicine Physician located in East Village, New York, NY
Opioid and alcohol dependence costs Americans upwards of $325 billion each year. This number takes into consideration how much people spend on health care, how much time is lost at work, and the costs associated with drug and alcohol-related crimes. But the cost of addiction to the individual is impossible to calculate, and often robs you of far more than your money. If you’re struggling with addiction and ready to quit, call or make an appointment online today with Matt Pabis, MD, at his office located in the East Village area of New York City.
Addiction Medicine Q & A
What are opioids?
Opioids are a class of drugs that includes the prescription drugs oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, fentanyl, and morphine. Opioids are pain relievers that are safe when taken for a short time as prescribed by a doctor. But over time, they can create a crippling physical dependence identical to their illegal relative, heroin. Because of their high potential for addiction, opioids should be taken carefully and as prescribed by your doctor.
How does opioid addiction occur?
Opioids are designed to trigger the release of endorphins. Endorphins are your brain's feel-good neurotransmitters that work by subduing your sensations of pain and increasing your pleasure sensors.
This reaction creates a powerful sense of well-being; however, it’s only temporary. When the feeling wears off, you may want it back as soon as possible. This cycle of a powerful craving for opioids followed by the satisfaction of a dose gives your brain a blueprint for future addiction.
What is alcoholism?
Alcoholism can be tricky to recognize, both for you and for health care professionals. Essentially, after prolonged or repeated exposure to alcohol, the brain’s communication system starts to do its job assuming that your brain will always have a certain amount of alcohol. When it does not detect any alcohol, your brain assumes there’s a problem.
This dependence on alcohol can be either psychological or physical. You may be an alcoholic if you notice you:
- Are unable to limit the amount you drink
- Miss important events because of too much drinking
- Are using alcohol in unsafe situations, such as while driving
- Find yourself craving alcohol
- Have made attempts to cut back on or eliminate your drinking without success
If you have a family history of addiction or have struggled with other addictions in the past, your chances of becoming an alcoholic are much greater. Seeking help for alcoholism is often an emotional, reflective process, but one that can make an extremely positive impact on your life when guided by health care professionals.
How does addiction treatment start?
Addiction is an incurable disease, but it is treatable. While there are many ways to fight the hold that alcohol or opioid addiction have on you, most treatment plans start at the same place:
Detoxification or “detox” is the vital step of flushing out all traces of the addictive substance from your body.
Depending on how advanced your addiction is, you may go through detoxification in the comfort of home. In an outpatient detoxification, you would visit Dr. Pabis daily for medication and support but would be able to continue living and working normally.
Advanced addiction may mean that you experience physical withdrawal symptoms, ranging from cold sweats and nervousness to debilitating vomiting and shaking. If you worry your withdrawal symptoms will be severe, you may ask about undergoing a controlled detox while under a doctor’s care. Since the urge to satisfy your addiction will be especially strong during the detoxification process, this can be a good way to get your recovery off on the right foot while ensuring you stay safe and comfortable during your detoxification.
Sometimes suboxone or a similar medication can help you through the detoxification process. Suboxone is effective when detoxing from opioids, which can have an especially difficult set of withdrawal symptoms. Benzodiazepines also often curb the effects of alcohol withdrawal, especially seizures, and can also aid the emotional stress that the process can cause.
If you’re ready to seek help for your addiction, call or make an appointment online with Dr. Pabis and start down your road to recovery.
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