Like many other addictions, opioid addiction is caused by a biological change in chemicals of the brain. When a person is dependent on an opioid, they require the substance to function. In the event that this person experiences a period of time away from the drug, they experience withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms are the driving forces that keep addicts returning to their drugs of choice on a regular basis.
What are Opioids?
The National Institute of Drug Abuse describes opioids as substances that are designed to dramatically mitigate pain. When taken, opioids interfere with pain signals being sent to the brain, and they significantly control emotions. Hydrocodone, buprenorphine, oxycodone, and heroin are just a few examples of opioids. There are many brand names that pharmaceutical companies use to describe opioids. These include OxyContin, Percocet, Vicodin, Demerol, etc.
Short Term Opioid Usage Effects
Once the drug is induced, a number of short term effects take place. The Foundation for a Drug-Free World describes these as slowed breathing, drowsiness/fatigue, unconsciousness, nausea, constipation, and even coma. Once a person develops an addiction to opioids, they begin requiring the drug regularly to feel normal. If the medication is stopped for any reason, the addict will likely report feeling restless, nauseous, chilled, achy (in muscles and bones), etc. For those who have experienced long term dependence on opioids, withdrawal symptoms are often more severe. In some cases, they can be life-threatening.
Long Term Opioid Usage Effects
In a report released by Lee Weber of Gatekeeper Innovation Inc., many startling long term effects of opioid abuse. Long term effects include (but aren’t limited to) abnormal amount of sensitivity to pain, immunosuppression, elevated overdose risk, brain damage, low energy level, reduced sex drive, reduced chance of conception, depletion of testosterone, etc.
At this point in time, researchers believe that 26.4-36 million people misuse opioids on a worldwide scale. Because opioids and related medications have become more readily available to the general public, emergency room visits related to opioid abuse rose from more than 144,000 (2004) to just below 306,000 (2008). In the past two decades alone, deaths related to opioid abuse have tripled. In 2010, more than 16,000 people in the US died from opioid overdoses.
In fact, the liability for addiction and abuse of opioids increases when they are taken for non-medical reasons. The risk factor for addiction also rises when the drug is taken with intent to amplify “the high.” People that are merely searching for euphoric effects from opioids will often crush and snort them, or they might inject them intravenously.
Your Next Steps
Are you or someone you love suffering from an opioid addiction that’s spun out of control? There are many different ways to attempt opioid addiction recovery, but inpatient treatment has always yielded the most promising results. Inpatient treatment has many benefits that help combat each facet of addiction.
With inpatient treatment, patients can detoxify in a safe, tranquil, and supervised environment. Once recovery begins, there are many resources available for targeting underlying causes for addiction, developing support in staff and other guests, building the framework for recovery outside of treatment, and learning how to live a well-rounded life without opioids.
Opioid addiction is highly dangerous. Unfortunately, it is not a condition that will simply go away over time. Because the brain is chemically imbalanced while addicted to opioids, structured treatment is required to regain control over life. Are you ready to take the first step towards dramatically improving your life and future? Inpatient treatment can help. Don’t suffer another day with a debilitating addiction to opioids.