The term 'opioid' is a broad classification that includes narcotic pain medications, heroin, and heroin analogues. Essentially, any substance that acts on the body's opiate receptors typically gets lumped into this category. Technically speaking, opioids refer specifically to such substances that are created in a lab, whereas opiates are naturally occurring. Certain species of the poppy plant produce opium, which is the precursor to the opiates morphine, codeine, and thebaine. Any additions to, or manipulations of, these chemicals to make other chemicals would be semi-synthetic opioids. Furthermore, understanding the chemical structure of the naturally-occurring opiates to then create entirely new substances in a lab to mimic that activity defines fully-synthetic opioids.
Human-kind has had a relationship with opium and opiates for thousands of years, and that can be seen in America’s history too. With advances in Western medicine, combined with the demand for prescription solutions to medical issues to include acute and chronic pain not related to cancer, we were well setup for the explosion of opioid use disorder that emerged in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s.
Fortunately, the concept of medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder had been established in the 1960’s, and has been proven over time to be the most effective intervention for those struggling with this chronic, relapsing and progressive disease. Unfortunately, other substance use disorders do not have the same medication-assisted interventions to specifically target the underlying neurobiological dysregulation associated with addiction.
As one can imagine, providing opioid-replacement therapies to those struggling with opioid use disorder requires a high level of expertise. Though necessary, the associated state and federal regulations do present an obstacle to care, as many medical professionals don’t receive much training in addiction medicine and feel unprepared to deliver this care utilizing best practices. For this and other reasons, providing medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder has become a main focus of Sunrise.
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