Opioid addiction is one of the fastest and most devastating of all substance use disorders today. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that 130 people die every day in the United States as a result of opioid use.
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Do you have an addiction to pain meds? Are you worried your loved one is using heroin? Here’s what you need to know.
How Do Opioids Cause Addiction?
Opioids have long been used as a way to reduce pain. Most pain medications come from morphine, which is a component of opium. Researchers have developed ways to enhance morphine, as well as weaken it, to allow for more precise pain management for those that need it. Yet, all of these drugs have some level of dependency risk. That’s why some doctors are moving away from using these drugs altogether.
Common names for opioids include codeine, fentanyl, hydrocodone, oxycodone, tramadol, methadone, Dilaudid, Demerol, morphine, and heroin. Since many of these drugs can be used by anyone of any age to manage pain, the opioid addiction risks impact every demographic in the country.
When does the problem occur? Taking medication for pain seems like an okay thing to do, especially when your doctor writes a prescription for it. Yet, there is a risk of addiction present. When does opioid use cross the line and becomes an addiction?
When a person develops a dependency on opioid use, he or she may be doing so because of a change in the makeup of the brain. These drugs work to change the way neuroreceptors in the brain communicate with each other. Over time, this changes the brain’s ability to work in a normal fashion.
When a person cannot stop taking opioids, the brain is requiring access to the drug. This happens as a result of those changes in the brain’s chemistry.
What Are the Signs of an Opioid Addiction?
You may notice these changes when you take a look at some of the warning signs of opioid addiction.
- Mood swings, often from switching from very aggressive to mild behavior
- Focusing on getting more of the drug
- Feelings of panic when opioids aren’t available
- Seeking out and using pain medications from other people
- Being unable to maintain responsibilities at work or school due to drug addiction
- Suffering from confusion and an inability to concentrate
- Showing physical symptoms of use, such as pinpoint pupils and nausea
Those who are experiencing an overdose may display an inability to communicate. They may move slowly. Some people lose consciousness. Others are confused. Any instances when the heart rate is severely lowered or respiratory rates are dropping are an indication of emergency medical needs.
What Treatment Options Are Available for Opioid Addiction?
Treatment for opioid addiction starts with removing the substance from the body. During this process, a person is in a medically stable environment while the drug is flushed from the system. It’s critical not to try this at home if a person has a moderate to severe level of addiction. Life-threatening complications can occur. At our detox unit in Bel Aire, Kansas, we can provide support 24/7 to minimize the risk of complications.
Many people will need inpatient treatment or ongoing outpatient care after detox to learn how to manage opioid addiction. In this process, the goal is to uncover why the addiction occurred and to deal with the underlying cause. It’s also important to manage thought patterns to minimize the risk of negative thoughts leading to relapse. Cognitive behavior therapy is highly effective for this.
Some people benefit from a 12-Step program, which can help to provide a holistic view of meeting physical and mental health needs. Other treatments can help, too, including some forms of alternative care such as psycho-educational workshops, yoga, and expressive arts.
Each person requires a unique treatment plan to manage opioid addiction and recovery. Yet, at Bel Aire Recovery Center, there’s always hope. Recognizing the signs of opioid addiction and seeking professional care can help you find the best path forward.