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Opiate Addiction Treatment

Addiction can sometimes start accidentally; an individual may come to see the signs of addiction gradually, or perhaps realize all of a sudden that they have a serious medical problem. This is often how opiate addiction starts as people seek medications to help with pain relief. Frequently, opiates are prescribed by a doctor or chronic pain specialist, and addiction develops over time, which then leads to drug use. Many headlines have been written about America’s opiate addiction epidemic and the surprising way in which opiate addiction often begins—not as a habit for any illicit “street” drug but as a struggle with prescription painkillers. Of course, a struggle with prescription drugs can often lead to trouble with harder opiates, including heroin.

No matter how your struggle with opiate addiction begins, it is important to know that there is hope for healing and recovery through opiate addiction treatment programs. This is Above It All’s message for anyone who battles opiate addiction: It is never too late to seek help and achieve freedom from addiction. The first step is to understand exactly what you are up against—how opiate addiction works, how recovery is possible, and what opiate treatment programs are available.

Understanding Opiate Addiction

Though prescription pain pills and heroin are making headlines on the topic of opiate addiction, the truth is that they are just a couple of substances in a huge category of drugs and narcotics. What unites them all is that they are made from opium, which comes from poppy plants. Certainly, prescription opiates (such as Vicodin and Oxycontin) are the most common, and even those who take opiate painkillers according to their prescription can end up battling addiction. With that said, everyone has a unique story, and opiate addiction can begin in any number of ways. Opioids are synthetic pain medication drugs that are manufactured to work similarly to opiates. Opioids’ active ingredients are made by chemical synthesis. Opioids often act like opiates when taken for pain because they have similar molecules.

Opiate and Opioid addiction is sometimes said to be particularly hard to treat. That is because opiates produce a major high. They are also highly effective in managing chronic pain. Over time, though, it requires higher and higher doses to maintain that high; without these large opiate doses, it can be difficult or impossible to feel anything like happiness or euphoria, and opiate addiction withdrawal can cause a deep depression. This is a form of emotional and mental dependence that requires clinical intervention through a supervised opiate detox and recovery program.

Signs of Opiate Addiction

There are some common ways in which opiate addiction manifests itself. Opiate withdrawal symptoms include:

Mood symptoms:

  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Brief bursts of euphoria
  • Anger or irritability

Physical dependence symptoms:

  • Exhaustion
  • Sedation
  • Muscle spasms
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Seizures

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Forging prescriptions
  • Stealing opiates from a friend
  • Taking prescription painkillers even after the initial pain has subsided
  • Blowing off professional or familial responsibilities
  • Lying or making excuses for opiate use
  • Restlessness
  • Social isolation or withdrawal
  • Lethargy

In the end, the effects of opiate addiction can be damaging to one’s health, finances, career, relationship and sense of self-worth; in some cases, it can even be deadly. The good news is that nobody who is struggling with opiate addiction is beyond help: Recovery is always possible through compassionate care and clinical intervention. With the right support system in place you can reach a place of hope and recovery while steering clear of relapse.

How to Help a Loved One with Opiate Addiction

What do you do when you witness some of these signs and symptoms of opiate abuse and addiction in a friend or loved one? The first thing to remember is that you cannot “fix” anyone, and it is not your job to try. Your job is to offer encouragement and support—to let your loved one know of your concerns, but also to be an ambassador of hope and recovery.

In a loving and empathetic tone—never an accusatory one—let your loved one know that you care, and that you are worried. You might try using I phrases: I have concerns about your health; I love you and want to see you get better; I feel like your opiate use is a problem. If your loved one does not wish to talk about it, be respectful of that—but make it clear that you are there to listen and to encourage, when they are ready.

Ultimately, make it clear that you want to see your loved one seek treatment—and that you will offer ongoing encouragement and support through that process.

Get Treatment for Opiate Addiction

As an opiate addiction treatment center, we want you to know opiate addiction help is just a phone call away. Whether you are struggling with opioid dependence or have seen the warning signs in a loved one, we invite you to contact Above It All’s opioid addiction treatment center today. Hope, healing, and long-term success from substance abuse are all more than possible, and they begin with medical intervention. Call our opiate rehab center today to learn more about our approach to opiate addiction recovery through our treatment programs in California.

Physical and Mental Effects of Opiate Addiction

Opiates, commonly prescribed to treat pain, are highly addictive. There are several physical and mental effects of opiate addiction that can plague a person for years, if not treated. The physical effects range include dizziness, nausea, and vomiting. More serious side effects include stroke, heart attack, and coma. With any use of opiates, there is the risk of overdose from taking too much, too often. This behavior can turn fatal.

The mental effects of opiate addiction are just as dangerous. These include hallucinations, anxiety, delirium, and drastic changes in eating and/or sleeping habits. Each person will experience some combination of these types of effects in different ways. Some may experience one or two, while others may experience all of the above. The intensity of both physical and mental side effects also varies from person to person. It’s dependent on several factors including height, weight, and age as well as how long a person has been using opiates and how often a person uses.

Continued opiate use changes the way a person thinks, acts, and feels. It not only has a physical and mental effect, but a physiological effect as well. Addiction is when the body has control over you and not vice-versa. The good news there is help available to overcome it. By seeking treatment in a rehab facility, you have access to trained professionals who can provide the medical care and emotional support necessary to reach a healthier, sober state.

Long-Term Effects of Opiate Use

The most significant long-term effect of opiate use is drug addiction. Certain opiates like hydrocodone and oxycodone are prescribed for chronic pain management. Due to the highly addictive nature of this category of drugs, the prescription is typically for a short amount of time to take at prescribed interval rates. Opiates create a feeling of euphoria for people to alleviate their pain and feel like they can function free of pain. However, this “high” is what causes cravings and creates a risk of dependency.

Chronic opiate use deprives the brain of oxygen, increases blood pressure, and causes increased stress on the body, which results in adverse effects such as tremors, stroke, heart attack, and coma. Opiate use also creates many long-term effects mentally for a person. In some cases, it results in mental disorders such as intense anxiety or depression. Over time, there is damage to both the body and mind that is irreversible, which is why the sooner you can seek treatment, the better. For someone who is struggling in this way, it can seem like there is no way out. However, it is never too late to get the help you need and find a healthier path.

What Causes Addiction to Opiates?

Opiates are addictive, which means the continual use of opiates to achieve a “high” will create a drug dependency. The more opiates you take, the more the body becomes immune to the effects. It will require taking the drug more often or at an increased level to reach the same euphoric feeling as before. This behavior leads to addiction, which occurs when your body feels like you have to have opiates to function normally. Once addicted, you’ll also experience withdrawal symptoms when not using them.

There are certain factors that can put a person at a higher risk of developing an addiction. This includes a family history of addiction, a history of severe anxiety or depression, a history of legal problems, and other at-risk behavior or circumstances. However, addiction can happen to anyone at any time. It depends on how you use them. Opiate addiction has become a nationwide problem affecting people of different economic statuses, upbringing, and history with drugs.

What Are Opiates?

Opiates fall into a category of synthetic drugs that derive from the opium poppy plant and are most commonly used to provide pain relief. Prescribed medication that falls within the opiate category includes codeine, oxycodone, and hydrocodone. Alternatively, heroin is also an opiate, which is used recreationally to achieve a euphoric state. In any form, opiates are highly addictive, which is why they are not meant for long-term pain management when prescribed.

Opioid use has become an epidemic across the nation largely in part because of an increasing number of people who have become addicted to prescription medication. According to the U.S. Health & Human Services, nearly 80% of heroin users reported abusing prescription opioids prior to turning to heroin. Although the drug is designed to help alleviate pain, it is not a long-term solution because the side effects are severe. Once addicted, the only goal is to continue to achieve the same high as before regardless of the dangers that may occur as a result.

People who take opiates as they are prescribed are not commonly in danger of becoming addicted to the drug. Self-medication or prescription medication abuse, however, can quickly turn into drug dependency and addiction. As a result, the U.S. Health & Human Services organization is researching alternatives to opiate use for pain management.

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Sources:

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), Effective Treatments for Opioid Addiction. Nov. 2016, Accessed Feb. 2, 2016.
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition). Updated Jan. 2018, Accessed Feb. 1, 2016.
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction. Jan. 2018, Accessed Feb. 3, 2016.
Medline Plus, Opiate, and Opioid Withdrawal. Aug. 2018, Accessed Feb. 4, 2016.
Medline Plus, Opioid Abuse, and Addiction. April 2018, Accessed Feb. 2, 2016.

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