Opiates have been around for centuries dating back some six thousand years. Addiction was not recognized until the 1600’s but did not become a widespread problem until about 130 years ago. This is probably due to its limited supply, cost and it being mostly used in medicine.
That said there may have been as many as 200,000 addicts in the United States in the late 1800’s and most of these where women.
This would mean that proportionally, in terms of population, the addict population is not that much greater now than then. It is estimated to be about one million today (I tend to think it is somewhat higher). Still that would mean that 1/200 adults are addicted and many more people use opiates occasionally. And I am then only speaking of opium/heroin use. The increase in opiates in the form of pills far out numbers those using heroin and now heroin is on the rise probably due to efforts to limit access to pills.
I give this introduction to show that these drugs, in whatever form, have been around for a very long time.
It is also to give an idea that we are lucky to be in the time we are in terms of “remedies.” The bad news is that they're really are no remedies that work quickly.
Until about ten years ago we had two ways to kick an addiction and those where going “cold turkey” or methadone.
Methadone was a great advance. It can be very effective but has the disadvantage of being very much like heroin. Above all someone on it can still use any other opiate.
Ten years ago buprenorphine was introduced in the United States. Although it is an opiate it only acts on some of the opiate receptors and so does not have all the affects of other opiates. Increasing the dose does nothing and at any dose “getting high” is not in the cards if used as prescribed.
Of course one can still go “cold turkey.” It is possible to do but many and probably most cannot do it on their own. There is a “cocktail” of medication that can help a great deal. It is a rather short term solution and does not get on through the entire process.