Opioids Abuse and Addiction Treatment Options
Opioids are a type of drug that includes both legal drugs like morphine, codeine, oxycodone, and tramadol, as well as illegal drugs like heroin. Fentanyl is a synthetic (manufactured) opioid. Opioids are typically used to treat severe pain that cannot be managed with over-the-counter medications. They can be taken orally, injected, or inhaled.
When taken as prescribed, prescription opioid medications can be safe and effective. However, with long-term use, a tolerance to opioid medication may occur, and the original prescribed dosage may no longer work as intended. Opioids can be dangerous when misused.
When taken in large doses or used recreationally, opioids can create a a blissful feeling. Opioid substance abuse can lead to addiction, and continued use can lead to opioid overdose. Opioids are most addictive when taken in large doses or used recreationally, so it’s important to carefully follow a medical professional’s directions if you’re taking them for pain relief.
This article will provide information on opioid addiction, including the risks and dangers associated with this type of addiction.
If you, a family member, or someone you know is struggling with opioid abuse, please seek help immediately. Many treatment options are available, and there is no shame in pursuing support. Call Zinnia Health at (855) 430-9439.
What Kind of Drugs Are Opioids?
Opioids are powerful pain relievers. They’re derived from opium, a substance in the poppy plant. Opioids work by binding to particular receptors in the brain and spinal cord, blocking the transmission of pain signals.
Although they are often used interchangeably, “opiates” and “opioids” refer to different substances. Opiates are natural opioids, such as heroin, morphine, and codeine, produced from poppy flower seeds. By contrast, opioids is a blanket term that covers natural opiates as well as semi-synthetic and synthetic opioids produced in laboratories.
Fentanyl and methadone are examples of synthetic opioids. In other words, all opiates are opioids but not all opioids are opiates. The distinction between the two terms can be confusing, but it’s important to understand the difference between them.
How Do Opioids Work?
Opioids (whether natural or synthetic) are a type of drug that can be used for pain relief. They work by binding to opioid receptors in the brain and spinal cord. The most commonly prescribed opioids include oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, and morphine.
Opioids are among the most addictive substances available. This is due to their effects on the brain’s reward system.
When opioids bind to receptors in the brain, they cause a release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that produces feelings of relaxation, satisfaction, or pleasure. Over time, this can lead to addiction, as the user seeks to experience these pleasurable effects again and again.
How Did Opioids Become so Popular for Treating Pain?
The opium poppy was first cultivated by the ancient Egyptians, who used it to make a tincture to relieve pain and induce sleep. The ancient Greeks also used opium for medicinal purposes, and it was introduced to China by traders in the fifth century. As it spread through China, opium became a popular treatment for a wide variety of ailments, and was also smoked for its euphoric effects.
By the 19th century, opium addiction was a major problem in China, and the Chinese government attempted to ban the drug. However, British and American demand for the drug and other Chinese exports was so high that it led to the Opium Wars in 1839.
Opium continued to be used medicinally and recreationally throughout the world, and many medications were developed, including morphine and codeine. Today, opium is still used medicinally, but its recreational use is widely prohibited due to its addictive nature.
In the early 1990s, pharmaceutical companies aggressively marketed opioids as a treatment for pain, with the promise that they were safe and effective. This led to increased prescriptions for opioids, which in turn led to more people becoming addicted to these powerful drugs.
The rise in opioid addiction has been accompanied by a sharp increase in overdose deaths and emergency hospital visits.
What is the Difference Between Opioids and Other Drugs?
Other drugs, such as alcohol and marijuana, bind to these same receptors but have different effects. For example, alcohol has a more sedative effect than opioids.
While alcohol, marijuana and opioids can all be beneficial in moderation, they can also be dangerous when misused. When taken in large doses, opioids can also slow breathing and heart rate, which can be fatal. As a result, it is essential to be aware of the risks associated with opioids.
What Opioids Are Most Addictive?
There are many types of opioids, and each can vary in its potential for addiction. Generally speaking, the most addictive opioids are the strongest in terms of their effects on the brain.
For example, heroin is a highly addictive opioid because it produces a powerful sense of happiness. Similarly, fentanyl is also a very potent opioid that can be highly addictive. Other opioids, such as hydrocodone, naloxone, and oxycodone, are also highly addictive.
The more potent an opioid is, the greater the risk for addiction. Risk factors for addiction include:
- Family history of addiction
- Mental health disorders
- Previous substance abuse
What Counts as Opioid Addiction and Opioid Use Disorder?
The terms “opioid addiction” and “opioid misuse” are often used to describe a dependency on drugs like heroin or prescription painkillers. However, addiction is a complex disease involving physical and psychological dependence.
People addicted to opioids may continue using the drug even when it interferes with their work, family, and social life. They may also need to take larger doses of the drug to achieve the same effect.
Anyone who has ever struggled with addiction knows that it is a complex disease that can be difficult to overcome. But what many people don’t realize is that there is a big difference between being physically dependent on a substance and being addicted to it.
For example, some people may become physically dependent on medically prescribed opioids after a long, painful recovery from injury or a medical condition. With medical supervision, a person can slowly taper the dosage and successfully end the physical dependency.
However, other people may become addicted in various complex ways, as well as physically dependent, and quitting may be a difficult battle.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), addiction is characterized by four key features: impaired control over use of the substance, physical dependence, social problems, and risky use.
Opioid addiction and opiate use disorder refers specifically to addiction to drugs in the opioid class, which includes prescription painkillers like OxyContin and hydrocodone, as well as illegal drugs like heroin.
Opioid addiction is a serious condition that often requires professional treatment. With proper care, people with opioid addiction can recover and lead healthy, productive lives. For support, call Zinnia Health at (855) 430-9439.
How Addiction to Opioids Develops
In many cases, it begins with a legitimate need for pain relief. Patients recovering from injuries or surgery often rely on opioid prescriptions to help them through the healing process.
For many people who suffer from chronic pain, prescription opioids are a necessary part of managing their condition. However, even with regular use, opioids can lose their effectiveness over time, leading to an increased risk of addiction and overdose.
Physical dependence occurs when your body becomes used to having a certain substance in its system and starts to experience withdrawal symptoms when you try to quit.
When patients are no longer able to get relief from their doctor, they may turn to illegal sources of opioids in an attempt to ease their pain.
This can spiral into addictive behavior, as patients become increasingly desperate to find a way to relieve their suffering. In some cases, this can lead to tragic results. Addiction is a deep psychological disorder that compels you to keep using even when it’s harming your health, your relationships, and your life.
To prevent opioid addiction, it’s important for physicians to closely monitor their patient’s use of opioids and consider other options for pain relief when opioids become less effective.
What Are the Symptoms of Opioid Addiction?
Symptoms of opioid addiction include:
- Tolerance (needing increasingly higher doses to achieve the same effect)
- Withdrawal (experiencing symptoms like nausea and irritability when not using)
- Continued use despite negative consequences
What Are Some Side Effects of Opioid Addiction?
One of the most immediate dangers of addiction is overdose. When someone takes too much of an opioid drug, their breathing can slow to the point where they stop breathing entirely. This can lead to brain damage, organ failure, and death.
In addition to the risk of overdose, opioid addiction can lead to liver damage, malnutrition, respiratory problems, and mental health problems.
Opioid addiction can lead to impaired judgment and decision-making, which can, in turn, lead to accidents or risky behaviors. It can also cause mood changes, disrupted sleep patterns, and problems with memory and concentration.
All the side effects combined can strain relationships and make it difficult to hold down a job or keep up with schoolwork. As a result, opioid addiction can have far-reaching consequences for the individual and society.
How Many People Are Addicted to Opioids?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the opioid epidemic is one of the most significant public health challenges in the United States. It affects many cities and towns, including those in rural America.
From 1999 to 2019, almost 500,000 people died from an opioid overdose. In the U.S. alone, 3 million people currently have or have had an addiction to opioids.
It’s no secret that the opioid epidemic is a major problem in the United States. Nearly 69,000 people died from opioid overdoses in 2020, and synthetic opioids were implicated in almost 82% of those deaths.
What Happens During Opioid Withdrawal
Opioid withdrawal is a cluster of symptoms that occur when a person who has been taking opioids regularly stops taking them. The symptoms typically begin within a few hours to a few days after the last dose of an opioid and can last for several weeks.
Symptoms of opioid withdrawal include:
- Muscle aches
- Teary eyes
- Runny nose
The intensity of the symptoms varies from person to person. Factors include how much and how often the person has been taking opioids, what type of opioids they have been taking, and whether they have any other health conditions.
Opioid withdrawal can be an extremely difficult experience. People who are withdrawing from opioids may feel a range of symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle aches, and insomnia.
The symptoms can be extremely intense and can last for days or weeks. For some people, the experience is so difficult that they feel like they are going to die. In addition to the physical symptoms, people who are withdrawing from opioids may also experience mental and emotional symptoms, such as anxiety, depression, and irritability.
The experience of withdrawal can be so difficult that it often leads people to relapse. In addition, if the person was taking opioids because of pain due to an injury or condition, they may have to deal with that as well as the actual withdrawal symptoms.
Treatment Options for Opioid Addiction
Among the most challenging addictions to overcome is an addiction to opioids. Opioid addiction can develop after taking prescription painkillers or using illegal drugs like heroin.
The first step in overcoming an opioid addiction is detoxifying the body, which can be difficult and uncomfortable.
While there is no medical cure for opioid withdrawal, some treatments can help make the experience more bearable. Certain medications can help to ease symptoms like anxiety and irritability, while others can help to relieve muscle aches and cramps. In addition, it is essential to stay hydrated and get plenty of rest.
Treatment for opioid withdrawal typically involves managing the symptoms with medications and providing supportive care. In most cases, people experiencing opioid withdrawal will need to be monitored closely by a healthcare provider to ensure their safety.
After detox, there are a variety of treatment options available.
- Medication-assisted treatment
- Behavioral therapy
- 12-step programs
Medication-assisted treatment includes drugs proven to ease withdrawal symptoms and cravings, making it easier for people to stick with their treatment plan. For example, methadone is a long-acting opioid that can help to reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
Buprenorphine is a medication that can be used to treat opioids addiction. It works by binding to the same receptors in the brain as opioids, but it produces a much weaker effect. This can help to reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms while avoiding the high associated with opioids.
Naltrexone is another medication that can be used to treat opioid addiction. It works by blocking the effects of opioids, making it difficult to get high from taking them. This can help people stick to their treatment plan and avoid relapse.
Behavioral therapy helps patients identify and change the behaviors contributing to their addiction. 12-step programs offer peer support and guidance for recovery.
Treatment for opioid addiction is often most successful when it includes multiple elements, such as medication, counseling, and behavioral therapy. By working with a treatment team, individuals can develop a customized plan that meets their unique needs and helps them on the path to recovery.
Get Help With Zinnia Health
You’re struggling with opioid addiction and don’t know where to turn. It feels like you’re out of options. The shame and guilt you feel make it hard to ask for help. You may not even know where to start.
Zinnia Health can help. We offer a number of treatment options, including detox, inpatient and outpatient options, and recovery residences. Our long-term success depends on a treatment plan that addresses every aspect of how you got here.
From early childhood trauma to genetic predispositions, we’ll put together an integrated healing approach tailored specifically for you.