When someone is dependent on opioids, it's difficult to stop the drug and try a new form of treatment for a number of reasons:
1) There may be a fear that a different form of treatment will not work as well as current treatment.
2) Withdrawal from opioids can be a very uncomfortable process. This can include muscle aches, restlessness, anxiety, tearing of the eyes, sweating, insomnia, abdominal issues (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cramping), racing heart, and hypertension. Knowing this in advance must surely be a deterrent to stopping these drugs!
3) The euphoria that some people experience when taking opioids will no longer be a part of life.
Some addiction medicine specialists use prescription drugs such as Subutex or Suboxone to treat patients who have used or abused opioids and need to stop. The problem here is that these drugs will block the withdrawal symptoms but that's all. The dependency problem is still there underneath it all. When I worked as a hospital pharmacist I remember several young pregnant women who were being treated with these drugs due to dependency. When their babies were born, guess what? The babies were born addicted.
Now we hear of a new product...a device that can be placed the behind the ear to ease opioid withdrawal symptoms. Known as the Neuro-Stim Bridge, this half dollar sized product sends electrical signals to the brain to block the pain of detox. For more information about this idea, here is a link to a story about an Indiana opiate treatment center who recently began using this therapy. At the time of the story, 37 patients used the device to successfully free themselves from opiate dependency...and more success stories are on the way!
Sources: Flickr; Indystar.com; Healthline.com