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Opioids And How They Work On Creating Dependency
The US is in an opioid overdose epidemic! Every day more than 130 people in the US die from an opioid overdose. These are man-made drugs derived from morphine and the commonly prescribed painkillers include Dilaudid, Hydrocodone, Oxycodone, and Fentanyl, as well as the illegal drug, Heroin.
With opioid prolonged use, a person can develop a dependency and destroy lives and families in the millions! No one is immune to becoming dependent on opioids, as they can affect all walks of life.
Drug addiction is a complicated illness and ANYONE who takes opioids is at risk of becoming dependent on them, as they are HIGHLY addictive as they activate the reward centers and trigger the release of endorphins, the feel-good chemicals of our brain. Endorphins suppress your pain perception as feelings of pleasure, thus creating a temporary sense of well-being.
That feeling of pleasure can turn into something you can’t live without! Over time taking opioids, your body produces fewer endorphins and you go into a period of what they call “tolerance”, where you feel you feel you need to take more to get the same feeling.
This is where they might turn to local drug dealers to get their fix, as doctors are reluctant to increase their prescription, due to dangerous components that can be in street drugs, deaths can occur.
The Symptoms Of Being Addicted To Opioids
Symptoms don’t always show up right away and can be diagnosed by a doctor, but if you see the following symptoms, it is time for concern.
- Uncontrollable cravings
- Inability to control opioid use, even with negative effects on relationships and finance
- Being withdrawn and stealing from family and friends
- Change in sleep habits
- Weight loss
- Change of exercise routine
- Lack of hygiene habits
- Flu-like symptoms
- Decreased libido
Opioid Dependency Treatments
Discontinuing the drug is a step to take but treatment can vary. Methadone and buprenorphine can help alleviate the symptoms of withdrawal and cravings, but inpatient or support programs paired with a combined medication that includes buprenorphine and naloxone generally, have the highest success rate.
Naloxone is a drug to treat an opioid overdose. If you take it along with buprenorphine, you will be less likely to misuse the buprenorphine. These medications are a treatment and not a substitute for further addiction.
Call your doctor when you want to stop this medication and do not try to go off these on your own. Naltrexone takes away the high that you would normally get when you take opioids, so you would take naltrexone to prevent a relapse, NOT to try to get off opioids.
Results indicate that maintenance medication provides the best opportunity for patients to achieve recovery from opioid addiction.
Something needs to be done about this epidemic, it not only affects many lives but has become a national crisis that affects public health as well as social and economic welfare.
It is estimated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention the total “economic burden” of prescription opioid misuse alone in the United States is $78.5 BILLION a year! The costs of healthcare lost productivity, and addiction treatment is included.
1-800-662-HELP(4357) is an opioid Lifesaving Hotline for those needing help to navigate through all the treatment options in order to find the right choice that best meets their needs, place of residence, and financial needs.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, psychologist, or medical professional so I am not giving you advice, just the facts on the subject. Please contact your healthcare provider or a medical professional to be diagnosed or given treatment options.
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4 thoughts on “Opioid Overdose Epidemic”
Yes, the stats are undisputable. I love how you included helpline numbers for those who may need it.
Thank you Betty, I always appreciate your feedback!
Honestly I find it so scary that there is an opioid crisis, not only in the US, but also in Canada (maybe elsewhere as well?).
However I think the opioid crisis is a symptom of a much larger problem. Studies (the most well known is the rat park studies in the 70s) have shown that connection and feeling like we belong and matter cuts the risk of dependence and also decreases incidence of first use.
Of course there is so much more to this discussion than could be shared in a small comment or a single blog post.
Thank you Sarah for your comment, I appreciate your feedback. I definitely agree there is a lot more to discuss and studies to be done, to get the true facts, but I am trying to get the awareness out there, so we continue to find ways to assist those who are addicted and find ways to eradicate the system that allows pills to be prescribed to patients too easily or so easy to buy on the streets! My older son lived on the streets for years and used heroin, meth and did get hooked on painkillers. As a mother, it was hell not knowing if you were going to get that phone call we all dread.