Opioid Addiction

Opiates are considered one of the most addictive substances on the planet and are single-handedly driving the current opioid epidemic. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, approximately 128 opioid-related deaths are reported each day. Whether purchased illegally or from a pharmacy, opioids and opiates heavily alter chemicals in the brain which can result in addiction from only a single-use. For those struggling with this addiction, professional treatment is effective in obtaining long-term recovery.

The Difference Between Opiates and Opioids

There is often confusion regarding the difference between opioids and opiates.  The main distinction lies in production. Opiates are natural substances that are derived from the sap of the poppy plant. Most opiates are illegal and include drugs opium and heroin. Opioids, on the other hand, are created synthetically in a lab and are developed to chemically resemble opiates. These drugs are typically prescription narcotics given to relieve pain in medical settings. Some opioids commonly prescribed include:

  • Codeine
  • Fentanyl
  • Hydrocodone
  • Hydromorphone
  • Meperidine
  • Methadone
  • Morphine
  • Oxycodone


Opioid Addiction

How Opiate and Opioid Addiction Develop

Opiate and opioids stimulate receptors in the brain which, once stimulated, release naturally produced “feel good” chemicals (dopamine) throughout the bloodstream. When these chemicals are released, the user experiences a sense of euphoria. Eventually, with long-term use, dopamine receptors become dependent on the drug and are therefore incapable of naturally producing dopamine. This development is known as drug dependency. Once dependency forms, a long-term user of opioids or opiates will have a compromised reward system. To evade the discomfort of opioid withdrawal, an individual may continue to use after dependency has been developed. This is classified as addiction.


Symptoms of Addiction to Opioids and Opiates

Since dopamine is only released when drugs are chemically present, normally motivated behaviors no longer take priority. This is why many addicted individuals become malnourished, suffer from broken relationships, and withdraw from social circles. Along with the obstruction of brain receptors, other physical and emotional side effects may occur as a result of opioid or opiate addiction, such as:

  • Mood disorders like anxiety and depression
  • Chronic constipation
  • Brain damage
  • Respiratory depression
  • Liver damage
  • Weakened immune system
  • Heart disease
  • Seizure
  • Death by overdose


Opioid Addiction

Detoxing from Opioids and Opiates and Experiencing Withdrawal

To begin addiction treatment, it is imperative to undergo medically supervised detox. Detox is essentially the process in which the drug gradually fades from the system.  Since an individual’s physical body is dependent on a substance, individuals will likely experience withdrawal symptoms during detox. These symptoms are unpleasant and uncomfortable which is why physician-supervised medical detox is highly recommended. Withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Anxiety
  • Stomach pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Chill sweats
  • Increased heart rate


Opiate and Opioid Addiction Treatment

Because withdrawal symptoms are unpleasant, it is important that individuals seek professional help with medical detox. After medical detox, individuals can benefit from a number of different opiate and opioid addiction treatment methods and therapies including individualized counseling, holistic therapy, and family counseling. Find out what opiate or opioid addiction treatment works best for you at Rehab Carolinas and gain freedom from opiate or opioid addiction.

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