Opioid or opiate addiction has become a growing problem across the United States. Opiates are used to relieve pain, but they can also be highly addictive. Many opiate addictions start by using prescription pain relievers such as oxycodone, hydrocodone or morphine. When used in the short term, these can be effective treatment options but must be closely monitored. Overuse or misuse can quickly lead to addiction. When prescription medications are not available, some people turn to a cheaper alternative – heroin. Heroin is also an opiate and highly addictive. Not only do opiates relieve pain, they can also produce a feeling of euphoria.
Opiates block opioid receptors in the brain, which leads to the decreased perception of pain. It can also alter the brain’s reward system. However, they can also have more dangerous effects such as drowsiness, confusion and depressed respiration. An overdose can make breathing and heart rate become dangerously slow and potentially fatal.
Opiate Addiction Signs and Symptoms
It can be safe to use opiate medications for a short period of time under the close supervision of a physician. With the increase in opiate addictions, however, many physicians are opting for non-opioid medications and alternative approaches to relieving pain. Once dependence or opiate addiction develops, it can be difficult to overcome without professional treatment. The brain and body keep craving more of the drug and some people may feel as though they cannot function without it.
Recognizing opiate addiction signs can help you to detect potential problems before they become more severe. One of the most common signs is the development of a tolerance to the drug. This requires you to take it more often or in higher doses to feel the same effect. The following are some other opiate addiction symptoms:
- Severe mood swings
- Poor coordination
- Slowed breathing
Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms
Another reason why it can be so difficult to overcome opiate addiction is because of the opiate withdrawal symptoms. This can be an uncomfortable and unpleasant experience. Oftentimes people will resort back to taking drugs to stop their withdrawal and to cope with symptoms. During the detox process, we provide our clients with a comfortable and safe environment to promote recovery and start the healing process by ridding their body of any addictive substances. Common symptoms of opiate withdrawal include:
- Muscle pain
Opiate Addiction Statistics in the United States
Over the years, opiate addiction has continued to grow at alarming rates according to opiate addiction statistics in the United States. According to the American Society of Addictive Medicine, in 2014, 1.9 million people had a substance use disorder involving prescription pain relievers, and 586,000 people had a substance use disorder involving heroin. In addition, there were 18,893 overdose deaths related to prescription pain relievers and 10,574 overdose deaths related to heroin in 2014. Studies have also found that women may develop opiate dependency more quickly than men and are often more likely to be prescribed prescription pain medication more often and for longer periods of time than men.
- In 2014, 3 million Americans reported using prescription painkillers for non-medical purposes within the past month.
- The average age for first-time use of prescription painkillers was 21.2.
- There were 259 million opioid prescriptions written in 2012, which is more than enough for each American adult to have their own bottle of pills.
How to Get Yourself or a Loved One Treatment for Opiate Addiction
Despite these sobering facts and figures, there is help available for opiate addiction. It may be a national epidemic, but you do not have to suffer any longer. Through a combination of therapy, counseling, holistic care and support groups, it is possible to overcome opiate addiction and create a healthier lifestyle.If you recognize the signs of opiate addiction in yourself or a loved one, call Crossroads to learn more about our wide range of gender-responsive services for women and men. Remember who you wanted to be and take back control of your life. Opiate addiction is treatable and lifelong recovery is possible.