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  • What is Opioid Use Disorder?

According to the National Institute of Health, “Opioid use disorder is the chronic use of opioids that causes clinically significant distress or impairment. Opioid use disorders affect over 16 million people worldwide, over 2.1 million in the United States.” In 2021, over 85,000 Americans lost their lives to opioid overdose. The below statistics demonstrate the intensity of the opioid crisis and the need for an opioid use disorder treatment program to be available for those in need. Without medical and clinical help, people with an opioid addiction will remain at risk for an overdose.

  • About 80% of people using heroin / fentanyl began by abusing prescription opioids.
  • Up to 20% of people taking prescription opioids for chronic pain will misuse it.
  • In 2021, over 80,000 Americans lost their lives to opioid overdose


Opioids are a class of drugs that includes both prescription pain medications (oxycodone, tramadol, hydrocodone) and street drugs like heroin and fentanyl. While opioids are prescribed by a doctor to care for pain, their abuse will typically lead to addiction (or opioid use disorder). Everyone who is prescribed an opioid should follow their physician's orders precisely, making sure to only use opioids as needed and as prescribed.

Opioid use disorder is a medical condition characterized by not having the capacity to refrain from using opioids, and actions focused on opioid use that affect home, relationships, job, or school. Being physically dependent occurs when someone has been abusing opioids and suddenly stops, prompting withdrawal indications such as cravings, flu-like symptoms, sweating, nausea, diarrhea, and insomnia. It can feel impossible to stop, and that reliance can impede with everyday life. Opioid use disorder is typically diagnosed by a medical doctor. Most of those experiencing opioid addiction will need a medically supervised detox and residential treatment at an inpatient rehab.


Indications of Opioid Use Disorder

  • Intense cravings
  • Sleepiness
  • Changes in sleep habits
  • Weight loss
  • Recurrent flu-like symptoms
  • Poor hygiene
  • Isolation from others
  • Stealing to buy opioids


While opioid addiction treatment begins with detox, many patients continue with MAT programs after discharge. It simple depends on each individual and their opioid use history. Also, part of the success of medication assisted treatment is harm reduction. MAT patients are not withdrawing or craving opioids and have a higher level of success than patients who only participate in counseling and therapy only. MAT combines traditional behavioral therapies and medication.


This drug is a full opioid agonist. It tricks the brain into believing that it’s still receiving the drug that was used. It doesn’t make the user high and will help them to feel normal and stable. only a SAMHSA-certified Opioid Treatment Program (OTP) can dispense methadone.


Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist. The most widely used buprenorphine product is Suboxone, which is a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone that suppress cravings and blocks the brain receptors if the individual were to use heroin (for example) they would not get “high.”


Unlike methadone and buprenorphine, naltrexone works by blocking the effect of opioid receptors and decreasing cravings and urges to use opioids. It is not an opioid agonist.

If you or a loved one are experiencing opioid use disorder, BriteLife offers a full continuum of treatment on beautiful Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. Call use today at 866-470-2187. Our admission specialists are available 24-hours a day, 7 days a week.

About BriteLife Recovery
BriteLife Recovery is a national provider of addiction treatment for adult men and women. With a focus on total health and wellness, BriteLife offers individualized substance use disorder programs that are centered on client choice and collaboration. The company operates luxury treatment centers in Hanover, PA and Hilton Head, SC.

About the Author
Matthew Koenig is the principal of Last Call Marketing, which devotes their efforts to Digital Marketing, Content Marketing, Website Design and SEO, primarily in healthcare and tourism concerns. Mr. Koenig is based out of South Florida and is in long-term recovery.

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