Opioid addiction is brutal. After only days of using the person's brain changes. Natural opioid release and receptors are turned off as the brain tries to lower the amount of opioid stimulation. As soon as the person stops using they start to get brutal physical and psychological withdrawal.
The user's brain knows exactly how to resolve the horrible withdrawal. All they need to do is: use some more opioid! Soon there is a pattern of swearing they will stop and a profound helplessness when confronted with the fear of withdrawal.
Research shows that abstinence based therapy is unlikely to succeed on its own. Some suggest that the rate of using in the year after abstinence is as high as 95%. The problem is that when a person slips with an opioid, unlike meth, cocaine, alcohol or tobacco, they are at a very high risk of death by overdose because their brain is now much more sensitive to the drug because of the abstinence.
Opioid medications originally came from the poppy plant but also include synthetic drugs like Fentanyl, Morphine, Codeine, Oxycodone, Hydromorphone, Dilauded, Heroin and others. All of these drugs act on the opioid receptor system in the brain and all can cause overdose and death.
Opioid Addiction treatment is now available in virtually all communities in Alberta Canada. If you are in a center with a traditional program, go check it out. If you are in an area without a program call VODP. The addition of telehealth based care is revolutionary. Now everyone who wants care can reasonably get it.
The research isn't even controversial. People treated with opioid replacement therapy are more likely to work, maintain family relationships, not be involved in criminal activity or go to jail, and are less likely to have poor health outcomes like hepatitis, HIV and certainly overdose and death compared to those who don't get treatment.