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Opioid Addiction

Opioids are a category of addictive drugs. Opiates are a subset of opioids that include drugs made from the poppy plant. Opioid drugs cause euphoric and sedative effects, resulting in a high probability of abuse. In this article you will learn all about opioid addiction and the dangers that come along.

Dealing with substance abuse disorders or opioid addiction is no simple feat. There has been a drastic increase in treatment options and research to identify the most successful treatment methods. 

Opioid Addiction Explained

Opioid addiction is all too common today. People are often prescribed opioid prescription pain medications like oxycodone and codeine by doctors. Taking these medications can quickly turn into chemical dependence, which is a precursor to opioid addiction.

How Opioid Addiction Works

When people take opioids, they experience intense feelings of pleasure. These usually include euphoria, comfort, relaxation, and other pleasing effects. The drug causes a reaction with the opioid receptors in the brain.

This reaction provides opioids with their painkilling effects. Dopamine is released during the reaction which causes the pleasurable effects. To continue feeling these pleasurable effects, users of opioids must continue to use the drug again. This causes a dependency to the drug. 

As people continue to use opiates, tolerance builds. Tolerance to a drug means that more of it must be taken to produce the same effects. This causes people to increase their dose of opioids to experience its euphoric effects, causing a deeper dependence on the drug.

Once a chemical dependence is formed, withdrawal symptoms occur when people stop use of the opioids. Depending on the length of use and dosage, withdrawal symptoms may vary. 

Some may experience very mild symptoms, but long-term users of opioids will experience more severe withdrawal symptoms. The continued use of opioids after a dependence is formed often results in an addiction.

Addiction to opioids occurs when people find an inability to stop using despite negative consequences. People who are addicted to opiates experience strong cravings for more opioids and find that their thought process revolves around them.

By the time an addiction to opioids is formed, it can be impossible to stop without professional help. Medical treatment options are available to help those with opioid addiction. 

When Opioid Use Becomes an Addiction

Many people become addicted to opioids by accident. Opioids are prescribed by doctors at an alarming level. People may use prescription opioids like hydrocodone, morphine, and oxycodone. Taking these drugs for an extended period of time can cause addiction to opiates. 

Many people end up using illegal drugs or heroin because they can no longer get their prescribed opiates. They become dependent on a prescription, then are driven to heroin use by cravings or withdrawal symptoms. Other signs of opioid addiction include extended abuse of a prescribed drug, like snorting, smoking, or injecting a pill. 

When the euphoric feelings of opioids pass, users are met by compulsive, intense cravings for more. This leads to people using excessively and obsessively thinking about getting more. This compulsive thought process is a telltale sign of addiction. 

The frightening truth is that it is very easy to fall victim to opioid addiction. Some people become addicted to opioids in just a few uses. Once an addiction is formed, it is difficult to break without professional intervention.

Opioid Tolerance

Tolerance is when a drug no longer has an effect without an increased dose. Many people build a tolerance to opioids after a few uses. They find that they must increase their dose to experience the same euphoric effects. 

Tolerance causes people to use more and more of a drug, which quickly compounds the likelihood for addiction. Dependence and addiction form swiftly. Once a tolerance is built, it can also increase the likelihood of overdose death.

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Why do People Misuse Opioids?

Once an opioid use disorder is created, the cravings for more opioids become unsurmountable. The euphoric effects of smoking, injecting and snorting opiates envelop the brain causing an intense desire for more.

However, many find that they can never quite suppress their urges for more. This inevitably leads to addiction, accompanied by intense withdrawal symptoms.

Withdrawal symptoms are often one of the top reasons people cannot stop using. They must continue to use daily to stave off these symptoms. Continued use of opioids also leads to depression, inability to meet responsibilities, and other negative side effects.

Health Effects of Long-Term Substance Addiction

Long-term opioid use is associated with a list of negative health effects. Some of these include a weakened immune system, increased risk of opioid overdose, and other mental health issues. Those who use intravenously are also at risk for HIV, hepatitis and other infections.

When Opioid Use is Stopped Abruptly

When people stop using opiates suddenly, their body goes into withdrawal. Withdrawal is the body’s reaction to a lack of opioids once a dependence is formed. Withdrawal symptoms fluctuate depending on the individual, but are usually extremely uncomfortable.

Withdrawal symptoms usually include nausea, vomiting, sweats and chills, and other discomfort. Psychological symptoms may also occur including anxiety, depression, and irritability. 

For long term users of opioids, there are also more concerning withdrawal effects. Some of these include seizures, increased risk of overdose, and heart problems that can lead to death.

Opioid Addiction Needs Medical Treatment

Opioid addictions are cause serious health concerns and should always be addressed with medical professionals. Many people attempt to detox and overcome opioid addiction on their own. Unfortunately, they end up relapsing or unable to stay sober on their own. 

A medical treatment program ensures a number of helpful factors. It ensures a safe, comfortable detox guided by doctors and professionals. It helps prevent relapse and focuses on the underlying issues that caused the dependence. 

Medical detox is the first step in opioid addiction treatment. Long-term treatment is always recommended. Individual and group therapy combined with other treatment modalities are also effective for those struggling with substance abuse disorders. 

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