Opioid addiction is a very real and rising problem across the United States. Even those who don’t believe they are prone to opioid abuse soon find that these powerful drugs can easily lead to addiction.
Opioids directly affect opioid receptors situated on the nerve cells, both in the brain and across the body. They work to temporarily relieve pain and enhance a sense of euphoria for a short while.
This type of chemical reaction can be useful when it comes to pain management. A good example would be a patient prescribed opioids temporarily after invasive surgery.
With that being said, opioids are frequently misused. This misuse happens anytime prescription opioids are taken outside of prescribed dosages or timelines. Opioids are also misused when they are purchased on the black market and used exclusively for recreational purposes.
Both scenarios of opioid misuse can quickly lead to addiction. At its most severe, this type of addiction can lead to an overdose and potentially death. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, nearly 50,000 Americans died from opioid-related overdoses in 2019.
What Exactly are Opioids?
There are two categories of opioids to consider. Physicians prescribe the first for pain relief. The second consists of illegal drugs used for recreation.
Prescription opioids legally available with a medical referral can include:
Illegal opioids commonly sold on the black market include heroin and synthetic opioids like fentanyl. Prescription opioids may also be sold illegally between prescription-holding patients or by drug dealers to customers.
How Opioid Addictions Happen
While opioids can be effective for pain relief, they also come with an elevated risk of dependency. Anyone who takes opioids for any reason runs the risk of developing an intended or unintentional addiction.
Even short-term use can cause life-threatening problems in the long run. While genetic and personal background factors can contribute to the likelihood of developing this disease, predicting an addiction is nearly impossible.
The unfortunate reality is that opioids are responsible for increasing overdose deaths in the U.S. year over year.
It’s important to remember that opioid addiction is a chronic and progressive disease. What starts as taking a substance to make yourself feel good can quickly turn into a compulsive action that’s mandatory to feel normal at all.
When opioids are consumed, the individual taking the drug will feel a release of endorphins. These chemicals affect mood and emotions as well as how a person perceives pleasure.
While this feeling of well-being is only temporary, it’s extremely powerful. It’s the pursuit of this feeling over and over that turns a short-term opioid user into an addict.
How Tolerance Leads to Opioid Addiction
The human brain is truly incredible. It’s a vital regulation center for the entire body. However, it requires balance to function properly.
Those who excessively consume opioids run the risk of disrupting brain functionality to an extreme. Opioid addiction can result in the brain getting to the point where severe changes mean reality is no longer perceived healthily.
The regular and excessive use of opioids causes the brain and body to slow the production of endorphins. With enough time, the dosage of opioids that once created a feeling of euphoria will no longer be enough to get the brain to trigger endorphin release at all.
This resistance means that a higher dosage will inevitably be required to create the same effect. An increasing need for more opioid consumption to achieve desired results is known as tolerance.
Tolerance is a huge driver behind opioid users transitioning into addicts. A heightened tolerance to opioids means that the individual is constantly searching for the next high. Unfortunately, increased amounts are needed each time an opioid is consumed.
Short-Term and Long-Term Effects of Opioid Abuse
An addiction to opioids can come with some dangerous short and long-term effects. Some of these might include but aren’t limited to:
- Slowed breathing
- Loss of consciousness
These short-term effects are the result of opioids actively working to depress body functions and movements. The heart and lungs slow down when opioids are consumed. There’s always a risk that depression of these vital systems could inadvertently lead to death.
Those who continue to abuse opioids over an extended period put themselves at even higher risk for harm. As the body adapts to the presence of opioids, it demands more to be satisfied, even minimally. Cravings become strong to the point of being all-consuming.
Once an opioid user is addicted to the substance, quitting becomes nearly impossible on their own. Attempting to quit cold turkey or even reduce dosage amounts can result in extreme opioid withdrawal symptoms.
Withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to severe depending on how long the addiction has been active. Some acute withdrawal symptoms can last for years at a time.
In most cases, users will need admittance into an opioid addiction treatment program. An opioid treatment program provides the customized care required to deal with the complex issues of addiction.
Factors that Increase the Opioid Addiction Risk
Physicians try to be extremely careful when it comes to prescribing opioids. They understand the inherent risks of addiction even when the correct dosage is administered.
With that being said, there’s no way to guarantee that users won’t consume prescription opioids outside of the prescribed methods. Even something as simple as crushing a pill instead of swallowing it whole can lead to enhanced effects and ultimately, addiction.
As opioid users begin to experience these enhanced feelings of well-being, they may attempt to further alter the way they consume opioids. Some people who have been prescribed opioids will crush the pill into dust. This maceration allows them to snort or inject opioids which creates a quicker-acting high.
Unfortunately, changing the way opioids are taken can be life-threatening in the end. This danger is especially true if the type of opioid prescribed is produced to be long-lasting. Premature delivery of an enhanced dosage of opioids to the body can put an individual in the position of inadvertently causing an overdose.
An overdose is also likely when a person takes more than the prescribed amounts of opioids listed.
Similarly, many opioid addictions stem from patients who simply take opioids longer than they should. Typically, these prescription medications are only meant to be used for a few days at a time — often to alleviate symptoms associated with post-surgical pain.
Taking opioids for five days instead of three can increase an individual’s chance of unintentionally becoming addicted.
In addition to methods of ingestion and time opioids are used, other factors can contribute to the possibility of addiction. These can include:
- Thrill-seeking behavior
- A personal history of substance abuse
- A family history of opioid abuse
- A history of depression or anxiety
Those who are suffering from chronic pain are at a higher risk of becoming addicted to opioids. Prescription opioids may be abused to consistently relieve painful symptoms. When prescriptions run out, an addict may turn to recreational opioid use to accommodate an enhanced dependency on opioids.
Strategies for Preventing Opioid Addiction
The vast majority of medical professionals agree that the risk of developing an addiction to opioids is more easily managed when prescriptions are only used for three days or less. Prescription opioids should only be given to patients looking to manage acute pain related to a recent injury or during a surgical recovery period.
Patients must work closely with their physicians to determine the lowest possible dosage that remains effective. A patient-physician partnership based on open communication is essential to determining how a patient reacts to opioids.
It’s also important in figuring out how long users should continue the prescription. Patients should have a trusted friend or family member to ensure that these prescriptions are being taken in the correct dosages and at the right times.
Those who suffer from chronic pain will want to look for less addictive pain relief options beyond opioids. These may include non-pharmacological therapies. Avoiding addiction in this scenario starts with avoiding opioid use altogether, if possible.
For those who do have to use opioids for short-term pain management, having a home plan for safeguarding medications is key to keeping the possibility of addiction at bay. This plan should include a secure place to store opioids while they are needed.
It should also include a safe way to dispose of them so that they can’t be used in the future. In most cities across Florida, local pharmacies are happy to take unused medications and dispose of them properly on a patient’s behalf.
Above all, removing the stigma around who is potentially prone to an opioid addiction is an important step in reducing the overall problem. There is no one group of people to whom opioid addiction is exclusive.
Opioid addiction can destroy the lives of anyone who uses them at any time. Understanding just how quickly this can happen is important in avoiding the possibility from the start.
It’s also important to recognize and respect the fact that opioid addiction is a disease. It’s considered to be a chronic medical condition that has the power to disrupt how the brain works.
When this is accepted, it’s easier to see why early intervention and treatment are so vital. Opioid addiction and treatment in Florida are two realities that must work in tandem. More than ever before, the importance of having treatment options readily available is being prioritized across the state.
Comprehensive centers for opioid addiction and treatment in Florida can be a key to avoiding long-term health conditions related to opioid abuse. Breaking the cycle of addiction is a complex process, which is why treatment approaches are versatile and varied.
Centers for opioid addiction and treatment in Florida utilize a combination of strategies and methods to help patients overcome these struggles. Many opioid treatment centers focus on medication treatment and counseling options to improve a patient’s chances of long-term recovery.
Medication Options for Opioid Addiction and Treatment in Florida
One of the biggest hurdles that opioid addicts face is overcoming withdrawal symptoms when opioids are withheld from the body. The intensity of these symptoms can be enough to push a person to relapse and seek out prescription opioids once again. Some of the most common symptoms of withdrawal can include:
- Body aches
- Belly pain
- Muscle spasms
- Severe mood fluctuations
None of these symptoms are merely figments of an addict’s imagination. Instead, they are very real reactions related to changes in the brain due to extended opioid use. Physical dependence is seen in nearly all systems of the body when opioids are involved.
While the risk of relapse due to withdrawal symptoms is very real, certain medications used through treatment programs can help. Many patients entering a treatment facility to deal with opioid abuse will begin the process with an initial detox program.
After this program is complete, certain medications can ease withdrawal symptoms and help keep someone in recovery on track.
Methadone is a medication that is sometimes used to help those dealing with particularly severe withdrawal symptoms. While it’s considered to be a long-acting opioid, it doesn’t create the effect of being high.
Instead, it affects the areas of the brain that opioids typically would. This interaction reduces the severity of withdrawal symptoms and simultaneously eases certain drug cravings. Other medications commonly used in tandem with treatment options like counseling and therapy include Buprenorphine, Lucemyra, and Clonidine.
Vital Behavioral Therapies for Opioid Addiction
While centers for opioid addiction and treatment in Florida focus on medication management, the treatment also focuses on behavioral therapies and counseling services. Treatment options like these might include:
- Cognitive-behavior therapy
- Support groups
- Family therapy
- 12-step programs
- One-on-one counseling
Oftentimes, a successful residential treatment program has a patient participate in more than one of these services. The focus of these therapies addresses feelings of self-worth, potential relapse triggers, and connecting with others who are going through similar circumstances.
Counseling and behavioral therapies create a community of support and help those needing opioid withdrawal treatment take back a sense of power that opioids have stripped away over time.
Reach Out to Recovery Team to Take Back Your life
Nobody should walk the road to recovery alone. At Recovery Team, we’re committed to helping those looking to overcome addiction find the resources, support, and hope they deserve.
From trauma programs and dual diagnosis programs to treatment options for drug addictions, alcohol addiction, and behavioral addiction, too, we have everything you’re looking for to get back on track. Reach out today at 800-817-1247 to speak with a representative and learn more. We have the opioid addiction help you need.