Overcoming Opioid Use Disorder
Recovering from opioid use disorder can be challenging mentally and physically, but many effective techniques are available to help, from mindfulness to medicine. Different tools can help you avoid triggers, prevent cravings, and manage even the strongest urges once they’re upon you. Some people benefit from distraction, while others are better off talking through their feelings. Some people feel calmer with counseling, and others find that adopting new behaviors makes the biggest difference. Learn the ways you can curate your recovery approach to get the support you need.
1. Put cravings in perspective.
A craving can be so strong that you can’t imagine it ending, but it will. Research shows that cravings can last anywhere from 20 minutes to two hours. They do end, however, even if you don’t satisfy them. Giving yourself a distraction will make the time seem to go faster. Get focused on a good book, lose yourself in your favorite music, get to the next level of your favorite online game, or get up and go for a quick walk.
2. Talk it out.
Instead of distracting yourself from a craving, try the opposite. Some people get more relief by verbalizing their frustrations to an empathetic ear. Look into recovery support groups, online and off. If you don’t have someone to talk to at a given moment, talking to yourself, or writing out your thoughts, can also be effective. Express yourself honestly, then offer encouragement. Remind yourself that the craving will end, you’ve gotten through tough times before, and you can do it again.
3. Remember why you’re in recovery.
Create a list of reasons why you’re in recovery so you can refer to it when you’re struggling. Some people seek treatment for opioid use disorder because they don’t like its impact on their relationships or career. Others have run into legal problems due to the disorder and don’t want it to happen again. Still others have had medical close calls and don’t want to risk another. Your reasons are your own, and they can be a powerful motivator.
4. Practice mindfulness.
When you’re grappling with opioid use disorder, it’s easy to get stuck on regrets from the past or worries for the future. Mindfulness meditation helps you stay in the present where you can calm yourself and relax. There are usually two components. One is focused attention. This involves exercises like concentrating on a physical object and describing it to yourself. The other is open monitoring. This involves exercises to acknowledge negative thoughts and emotions without getting sucked into them.
5. Consider counseling.
Counseling helps many people in recovery for opioid use disorder stay away from triggers, manage cravings, stick with treatment, and avoid relapse. It comes in individual, group and family forms, and in-person and online options. There are three primary approaches. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) helps change the way you think about using opioids. Contingency management sets up rewards for not relapsing. Motivation enhancement therapy aims to increase your desire to not misuse opioids and stay in recovery. Find a therapist or counselor you connect with and keep an open mind. It can be uncomfortable at first, but working to shift your mindset or habits can go a long way.
6. Explore medication with your doctor.
Effective medicines are available to support opioid misuse recovery. Methadone and buprenorphine are prescribed to ease withdrawal symptoms like pain and diarrhea and lessen cravings. They make it easier to go about life without opioids, participate in treatment, and stay committed to your treatment plan. Naltrexone is prescribed to prevent the euphoric feeling from taking opiates, so there’s less incentive to relapse. Some people take both types of medications, and they are available in one combination. There are different dosing options available, so work with your doctor to find what works best for your lifestyle, schedule, and needs.
7. Curate your healthcare support.
Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) for opioid use disorder combines medicine with counseling in a holistic approach. The idea is you are more than your physical addiction, and many aspects of your life may need to be addressed for a lasting recovery. Take your social life, for example. If it’s hard for you to stay away from people you once misused opioids with, a MAT treatment plan would include tools to help you change that behavior. Your healthcare team should work closely with you to identify and try the best strategies for you.
Coping With Opioid Use Disorder | Opioid Use Disorder Recovery