What Makes Opioids So Addictive?
Opioid addiction has become a subject of concern for many in the United States. Whether it be a family member who is currently undergoing the ill effects of opioid addiction or a loved one recovering from this addiction, it’s important to understand the effects of opioids in the body and the role that addiction plays when they are in use.
What Is Addiction?
Addiction is a condition which starts out as a simple pleasurable feeling and morphs into something that, with time and repeated exposure, turns into an irresistible craving that you can’t live without. There are a variety of addictions, but the most notable is the addiction to opiates such as prescription drugs.
How Opioids Lead To Addiction
Prescription drugs and other opioids trigger the release of endorphins in your brain while dulling the feeling of pain in your body. These endorphins provide a rewarding surge of pleasure throughout the body, which entices users to continue using it to achieve that pleasurable high. With use, the brain will stop creating dopamine and endorphins, in a situation otherwise known as tolerance.
In order to get the same feelings, the user will have to increase the dosage to feel the same high. With time, the craving for the drug becomes overwhelming and the tolerance builds up so as to turn it into drug addiction.
Short Term VS Long Term Use Of Opiates
The amount of time that you use prescription drugs is a big factor into whether or not addiction will take place. With continued use, the body develops tolerance to the drugs, which then encourages the user to increase the dosage in order to continue feeling good.
While it might be easy to simply encourage the user to stop using the drugs, it can come with withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms are common in those who have been abusing drugs due to how the body has become accustomed to the pleasurable feelings of the drug. If the user attempts to stop use this could lead to possibly deadly side effects.
The effects of opiates are known among medical professionals today and some doctors will be wary of prescribing a higher dose than needed and follow the recommended “3 day limit” rule. However, this rule is commonly disregarded and these highly addictive substances continue to be prescribed. For those who have developed tolerance, it’s important to talk to their doctor to ensure that they will provide separate options that are just as effective.
A good rule of thumb is that the lowest dose possible for the shortest amount of time is best. Working with the doctor to follow this guideline will help reduce the likelihood of addiction.
According to the National Safety Council, 99% of physicians exceed the recommended 3 day dosage limit.
Effects of Opiate Abuse
Short Term Effects
- Euphoria followed by feelings of apathy
- Impaired judgement
- Memory and attention problems
- Slow movements
- Slurred speech
- Lowered pain threshold
- Suicide attempts
- Brain damage
- Sexual dysfunction
Who Is At Risk For Addiction?
Members of the army, firefighters, EMTs, and veterans are the most susceptible to the effects of opiates due to their careers. They are involved in situations that the common civilian could never dream of being in. As a result, injuries are common and they are often prescribed opiates to dull the pain they feel. This in turn leads to higher than average propensity to fall victim to opiate addiction.
It’s impossible to determine exactly who will be affected by addiction or who is vulnerable to drug abuse. Your personal history and the amount of time you were on opioids plays a role, but there are many factors to be taken into consideration. That is why anyone that takes opioids is at risk of developing addiction.
Here are other factors to keep in mind:
- Family or personal history of substance abuse
- Contact with people or environments with high-risk
- Criminal record or legal problems
- Thrill-seeking personality
- Severe depression or anxiety
Most Common Opiate Drugs
There are a handful of drugs that have garnered attention as some of the most addictive. Here are a few that should be kept in mind if you or a loved one is being prescribed during a treatment:
Morphine: The substance used for this drug is highly addictive and found naturally in the opium plant.
Meperidine: This synthetic prescription medication is similar to morphine and produces similar effects.
Codeine: Used as a cough suppressant, codeine is used as a combination medication. Compared to other substances, it’s less powerful but it does have addictive properties.
Hydrocodone: Otherwise known as Lortab or Vicodin, this is the most commonly prescribed opiate medication on the market and is a semi-synthetic opioid.
Oxycodone: Commonly known by its brand names Percocet and Oxycontin, this is another semi-synthetic opioid.
Fentanyl: Commonly prescribed as a skin patch, Fentanyl is a highly addictive synthetic opiate.
Addiction Treatment For Warriors
Addiction Treatment For Warriors
Becoming a victim to prescription drugs and other addictive substances might make you feel hopeless. But, there is hope. Warriors Heart offers treatment for those brave warriors who defend our lives from harm and protect our freedom. Whether they be veterans, members of the army, firefighters, EMTs, or other first responders, we do anything possible to bring them back home to their loved ones.
Contact Warriors Heart today and heal from addiction.