About Opiate Addiction
Opiates, also called opioids or narcotics, can be found in certain pain medications including oxycodone, codeine, hydrocodone, morphine, fentanyl and illegal drugs such as heroin. Opiate painkiller medications are often prescribed to treat acute pain. With prolonged use of opiates the pain relieving effects are lessened and the pain can become worse, requiring more of the drug for it to be effective. The body can also develop a dependence to the drug.
How do you become addicted to opioids?
With long-term use, changes to the way nerve cells work in the brain take place. Even those using opioids for a long period of time as prescribed by a doctor can experience this change. These nerve cells become used to having opioids around and when taken away suddenly the individual can experience a number of unpleasant feeling and reactions, also known as withdrawal symptoms.
The Opioid Epidemic
Addiction is a primary, chronic and relapsing brain disease which is characterized by a pathological pursuit of relief by the substance. It is estimated in 2014 that 21.5 million Americans age 12 and over have had a substance use disorder. Approximately 23% of individuals who use heroin are estimated to develop opioid addiction.
In 2014 overdose deaths are reported to have hit a peak of 28,000. This means that more Americans are dying from opioids than any other time in recent history. It is reported that overdose deaths from prescription painkillers have quadrupled since 1999.
How does addiction to Opiates happen?
When individuals with no history of drug addiction use narcotics appropriately as prescribed doses it is unlikely that they will develop an addiction. Opioids can provide an intoxicating high when used in high doses. Studies have not found clear-cut predictors for who is likely to eventually abuse painkillers.
Drug misuse occurs when an individual uses a medication beyond a doctor’s prescription, typically with the intent to get high or relieve anxiety.
Signs of Opiate Use Disorder Include:
- A strong desire to use opioids
- An inability to control or reduce use
- Difficulties meeting work or social obligations
- Legal problems caused by drug use
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms after stopping or reducing use
- Developing a tolerance to the drug
Signs and Symptoms of Opiate Abuse Include:
- Small pupils
- Slurred speech
- Shallow breathing or slowed breathing
- Flushed skin or itching
- Increased pain tolerance
How is Opiate Abuse Treated?
Following detoxification opiate addiction is treated with behavioral therapy and medication. Evaluation and treatment of co-occurring mental health disorders will also typically be conducted. If the client is diagnosed with a co-occurring disorder and opiate addiction it is important that they receive specialized treatment for both conditions. This will ensure proper treatment and will help in long-term recovery.
At A New Start, Inc., we are an intensive outpatient program located in West Palm Beach. Our dedicated staff and therapists are specially trained in dual-diagnosis therapy, trauma therapy, relapse prevention and more. If you or a loved one are suffering from opiate addiction, please contact us today at 1.844.TALK-ANS.