A Brief Introduction to Opioids and Opioid Addiction
We live in a rapidly changing society. For the most part, many would say we are progressing in the right direction. However, there are some negative elements that may never change, regardless of how hard we may try. Drug addiction is just one area where progression seems painfully slow. In the past five years alone, the attention to fighting opioid addiction across the country has become a major topic of discussion. Politicians have made it a focal point in their campaigns as well as policy changes. Community activists have also weighed in, shedding light on how easy it is for citizens to obtain the drugs. All of this for the betterment of the communities we live in. Opioid addiction is not something that should be taken lightly. This is especially true for those experiencing it, or those trying to help a loved one beat the disease.
What Are Opioids?
Opioids are medications that are used to treat pain. This pain can either be constant (backaches, headaches, muscle spasms, etc) or temporary and acute. These types of medications (also known as narcotics), can be purchased on the street or prescribed by medical doctors.
When opioid medication is used, the drug goes to the opioid receptors in the brain. This triggers the release of endorphins, which block some of the pain signals in the body and disrupt their messages to the brain. Not only do endorphins block pain, they also release the brain’s feel good chemical. The feeling of being at ease after going through physical pain feels good. However when the feeling wears off some people want that intense sense of wellbeing back as soon as possible. This is where the adverse effects of overusing opioid medications come into play.
Many individuals experiencing opioid dependency become addicted to the feeling that the medications give them. “Chasing” this pleasurable feeling can become an obsession, which is when addiction develops and use becomes inappropriate. The fact that opioids are so easily accessible makes it hard to stop the addictions compared to other street drugs. How long has opioid addiction been a problem?
Signs and Symptoms of Opioid Addiction
If you suspect a loved one is abusing opioids the best thing you can do is show them you love them and not enable their addictive behavior. You typically can’t force a person into treatment, and if you can it’s rarely successful. A person will not look to recovery until they are ready to make that choice for themselves. While opioid addicts can be very manipulative and sneaky with their use there are signs that you will see that might tell you if a person is abusing drugs.
A person who frequently hang out with different groups, constantly changes friends, or seems to be ignoring longtime friends for a “new crowd” might all be signs that a person is developing an addiction. In addition to this addicts will spend significant time alone and avoid friends and family for long periods. They will display little interest in previously enjoyed activities, undergo frequent and unexplainable mood changes, and very often their personal hygiene will decline. A person struggling with opioid addiction will commonly experience financial troubles, miss important appointments, or unreliably attend work or school. Other more obvious signs include getting into trouble with the law, frequently exhibiting flu-like symptoms, and stealing from family or friends.
Effects of Opioid Addiction
Using opioids comes with a number of unpleasant side effects. These side effects vary depending on the frequency and duration of use. The side effects someone might experience simply by taking the drug as prescribed include:
- A sense of elation
- Physical and psychological dependence
Opioids also have a significant effect on a person’s psychological, behavioral, and well-being. They cause a wide array of psychological symptoms ranging from depression, psychosis, and lowered motivation to euphoria and improved self-esteem. In addition to this, the drug might increase a person’s anxiety or even bring on anxiety attacks. Behavioral symptoms might consist of planning your life around the drug, using opioids for longer or in greater numbers than intended, or unsuccessful attempts to reduce the amount taken. A person struggling with opioid abuse disorder will abandon activities that were once important to them and spend large amounts of time obtaining, using, or recovering from use. Physical symptoms might include increased heart rate, high blood pressure, or constricted pupils (pinpoint eyes).
Contrary to what you might think, increased alertness, bursts of energy, or an improved sensitivity to stimuli might be signs of physical symptoms. Furthermore, the drug might cause a person to have difficulty sleeping or increased agitation.
While these side effects may not seem harsh, these are just the start to what has resulted in many deaths from the misuse of opioids. We want to inform those that are currently experiencing opioid addiction or seeking to help loved ones that are addicted to opioids to not take this list lightly.
The symptoms that are most severe and most commonly associated with opioids are the symptoms of withdrawal that are brought on after a person has become physically dependent on the drug. Some of the most common withdrawal effects associated with stopping the use of opioids include:
- Cravings both Physical and Psychological
- Stomach pain
- Cold Sweat
- Muscle tension
- Body Aches
Overdosing on opioids come with severe consequences in the long run. Individuals who have overdosed on these drugs can experience hypoxia. Hypoxia is a condition that decreases the amount of oxygen to the brain in addition to slowing down or stopping breathing altogether. The latter has resulted in individuals going into a coma, permanent brain damage, and in the worst case scenario death.
Treatment for Opioid Addiction
If you are an individual that is going through an opioid addiction problem, we want you to know that there is hope. The sooner you stop your addiction, the sooner you can get back to living your normal life, and avoid major health complications. We are aware that overcoming an addiction is not something that happens overnight… this is a process. Depending on what you were using, how frequently, and the amount can all play a role in how long your recovery process takes.
If you are a friend or family member looking to help a loved one overcome their opioid addiction, there are a few tips we want to share with you. When you sit down with your loved one, it is best to not make them feel attacked by your words or actions. Showing them that you care for their health, their safety, and their lives makes having a talk with them about their addiction a little bit easier. When someone going through an opioid addiction feels like they are being verbally attacked, that may trigger emotional points in their mind. In turn, this may result in them relapsing or overdosing again.
What Can We Do for You?
As a drug rehab center, it is our mission to try and help individuals experiencing opioid addiction. At Silicon Beach Treatment Center we are here to provide necessary information, tips, resources, and treatment to individuals seeking and needing help. Above all, we believe that everyone deserves a chance to change their lives for the better. We want individuals who have misused or overdosed on opioids to know that we care for your well-being. No one is perfect, and it is okay to make mistakes. These mistakes are better treated sooner rather than later.
Would you like to seek assistance from our highly trained professionals? We are looking forward to help you (or your loved one) as soon as possible. We are located in Los Angeles, CA. To reach our staff via phone, please feel free to call us at 833-LA-REHAB. If you would like to see the programs we offer, or reach our team via email, please feel free to click here. All information that we collect froms those that are seeking help or loved ones looking to help someone are all confidential and never shared with any third-party entity.