What Are Opioid Abuse and Addiction?
called opiates, are a class of drug. This class includes drugs derived from the
opium poppy, such as morphine and codeine. It also includes synthetic or
partially synthetic formulas, such as Vicodin, Percodan, oxycodone, and heroin.
Many opioids are used to treat pain.
Some opioids, such
as oxycodone, codeine, and morphine, are prescription pain medications. Using
these medications for recreation or in a way not recommended by a doctor can be
like heroin, are illegal.
Opioids are highly
addictive. Abuse can quickly lead to addiction. Both abuse and addiction can
cause serious health problems, including death.
Opioids can be
used in a variety of ways. They can be taken orally, inhaled through the nose,
injected into a vein, or smoked in a cigarette. Prescription forms are
sometimes used as suppositories. Effects may depend on the method of
consumption. The type of opioid also determines its effect.
the brain, leading to temporary feelings of intense pleasure. Addiction to opioids
can develop very quickly, even with minimal use. The addiction can be physical,
in that a habitual user’s body craves the drug. It can also be mental, in that a
user consciously desires the drug’s effects. A person who is addicted to
opioids will do whatever it takes to get more of the drug, regardless of the
risks or consequences.
use has serious health consequences, including brain damage. Opioid abuse can impair
the brain’s production of natural painkillers and dopamine (the brain’s “feel-good”
What Are the Effects of Opioid Abuse and Addiction?
Opioids temporarily reduce pain and anxiety and create a sense of
numbness in the body and mind. High doses can create a short-lived feeling of
euphoria and drowsiness. These effects can make stopping difficult. Habitual
users begin to crave this feeling, but the high is short-lived.
Opioid abuse and
addiction can have negative mental and physical effects, such as:
- weakened immune system
- slow breathing rate
- increased risk of HIV or infectious
disease (common in intravenous use)
- increased risk of hepatitis (common in
- collapsed veins or clogged blood vessels
- risk of choking
addicted to opioids often have trouble achieving a satisfactory high because
their tolerance increases. This leads to using more, which leads to stronger
and graver effects in the body.
What Causes Opioid Addiction?
especially in a way not prescribed by a doctor, can cause addiction. Opioids
are highly addictive, so even infrequent use can lead to physical dependence. Habitual
opioid use causes changes in the brain, specifically in the pain center. This
brings on addiction.
Who Is at Risk
Anyone who uses
opioids is at risk for developing an addiction. The best way to prevent an
addiction is to avoid all illegal drugs, and to use prescribed painkillers only
as recommended by medical professionals.
While opioid use
is a choice, some factors may increase risk of addiction. People with a family
history of drug dependence and those who grow up in certain social or economic
situations could be more at risk. Also, people who abuse alcohol or other drugs
or who have a mental illness have an increased risk of opioid dependence.
What Are the Symptoms of Opioid Abuse and Addiction?
Signs and symptoms of opioid abuse and addiction include:
- an increased tolerance for the drug
- an inability to stop or reduce usage
- withdrawal symptoms when you stop using
- a desire to keep using even when health
- an impact on quality of life, including
relationships and employment
- spending excess time and money on drugs
- excessive sleeping or extreme weight loss
- turning to crime to pay for more opiates
If someone who
is addicted to opioids stops using, he or she may have withdrawal symptoms
including anxiety, sweating, insomnia, agitation, tremors, muscle aches,
nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and extreme mental and physical discomfort. Even
people with a very minor dependence on prescription opioids can suffer from
length and intensity of withdrawal depends on the type of opioid the user is
addicted to, the length of the addiction, and the typical doses.
addicts may wish to consult with a medical professional before quitting.
How Is Opioid
To diagnose an
opioid addiction, your doctor will discuss your current usage and health
history. He or she will determine the degree of your dependence and help
suggest treatment options. Someone who seeks treatment for opioid addiction
must commit to stopping.
How Is Opioid
is a complex disease, with physical, mental, social, and environmental factors.
To be successful, treatment plans must address all these components. In some cases,
hospitalization may be required.
Detoxification is often the
first attempt at treatment. It is done in combination with other treatment
options. It includes supervised withdrawal from the drug, with support and
medication to help with the withdrawal symptoms. Detoxification alone is rarely
successful in treating opioid addiction. Some
people will suffer from tremors, hallucinations, confusion, delirium, intense
anxiety, sleep disturbances, and body pain while detoxing.
addicts have success with taking milder prescription opioids, such as methadone
or buprenorphine, and slowly lowering the dose to wean themselves off the drug.
This process, known as replacement therapy, is a common treatment for opioid
addiction. Other medications may be used to lessen the withdrawal symptoms or
programs work to deal with all facets of an addiction. These programs often
include support groups, vocational rehab, and therapy. Programs can last for a
few weeks or several months.
Other solutions that help
patients overcome addiction include exercise, hypnosis, acupuncture, and herbs,
although the safety and efficacy of each is mostly unknown.
What Is the
Outlook for Opioid Addiction?
People who abuse
opioids or who become addicted to them are at an increased risk for premature
death and serious health complications. Quitting is the only way to minimize or
eliminate these risks. Prolonged use leads to tolerance, which requires higher
doses to feel effects. Higher doses increase your risk of death or grave health