Explain how the actions of opioid agonists and maintenance substances, are utilized as effective approaches in the treatment of opioid dependence.

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justaguide eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Drug addicts use opioids like morphine and heroin as they their use leads to analgesic effects and feelings that are pleasurable. But the use of these substances is dangerous for the body.

Patients undergoing de-addiction treatments have to face painful withdrawal symptoms when they stop using the drugs. This leads to their continuation of the drugs in many cases and they are unable to quit.

To ease the process many opioid agonists like methadone, LAAM and Buprenorphine are used. These substances have an affinity for the same mu opiate receptors on the surfaces of brain cells, which opioids found in drugs bind to and create the analgesic and other effects. They are also able to produce the same sensation produced by the use of drugs though it is very mild and can be easily controlled. The use of opioids agonists allows patients to be weaned from the drugs gradually and the painful withdrawal symptoms that would have to be endured are reduced. The use of opioid agonists make it easier for drug users to go through de-addiction and their chances of success increase.