Opioids are often prescribed by doctors to help manage pain after surgery or an accident. They are very effective drugs that bind to receptors in the brain and central nervous system to block the transmission of pain signals. They are also very addictive, however, and a person’s craving for opioids doesn’t end just because the prescription runs out.
It’s easy to become physically and psychologically dependent on opioids, and people who become addicted to opioids often resort to drastic behavior to get more of them – forging prescriptions, going to see a different doctor to get a new prescription, obtaining pills from friends or family members, or purchasing illegal opioids from drug dealers.
Opioid addiction has become a major health crisis in the United States, where millions of people are dependent on these dangerous painkillers and more than 100 people die every day from opioid overdose. Besides the serious health implications, opioid addiction has a profound effect on individuals, their families and society as a whole.
Natural opioids are derived from the opium poppy plant, and they may also be manufactured synthetically in a laboratory. Along with blocking pain signals, they affect the part of the brain that experiences reward or pleasure, filling it with dopamine and sparking strong cravings and feelings of euphoria. They may also affect the respiratory and digestive systems.
Opioids are addictive in nature, so sustained use can easily lead to dependence or addiction. Long-term users also develop a tolerance to opioids, and when they stop using them even for a short period, they may experience physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, dilated pupils, watery eyes, insomnia, abdominal cramping or tremors.
Other signs of an opioid addiction include:
The dangers of an opioid overdose increase as the addiction grows and the user develops a tolerance to the drug as they take larger doses more frequently to experience the same feelings. Signs that someone may be overdosing on opioids are shallow breathing, unresponsiveness, no pulse, vomiting, and constricted pupils.
People often use the terms opiates and opioids interchangeably, but there is a significant difference. Opiates are natural opioids that come from the opium alkaloid compounds found in poppy plants, including codeine, morphine and heroin. Opioids refers to all forms of opiates, both natural and synthetic, and includes those that can be manufactured in a lab, such as fentanyl, hydrocodone, oxycodone and methadone, among others.
Fentanyl, among the most dangerous opioids, is 100 times stronger than morphine. Often used by drug dealers to “spike” other drugs, it is primarily responsible for the rapid increase in opioid overdoses and deaths.
Other common types of opioids include:
We are a fully accredited drug rehab facility for opioid addiction, providing a full continuum of care. Our medical team at Harbor Village can assist you through the drug detox process, and our therapists and counselors devise a full rehab program with treatments and therapies that help you beat your addiction and achieve a successful, lasting recovery.
Medical detox normally takes about five to seven days for the majority of the symptoms to dissipate. During this process, we may administer buprenorphine or methadone, two prescription drugs that can help ease withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings. Following detox, we employ holistic, evidence-based therapies that explore the roots of your substance abuse. Through cognitive-behavioral therapy, one of the more effective therapies for addiction treatment, we identify negative behaviors and show you how to replace them with healthy alternatives. We also teach you coping skills so that you have better outlets when faced with triggering situations.