Illicit Opioid Use Overdose
Drug abuse often leads to addiction. Nobody wants an addiction controlling every part of their life. But it happens far too often.
Addiction hurts the individual and everyone around them. It tears apart families and friends because it is self-destructive in every way.
Often, it is also a truly lonely and difficult path for any individual that is stuck obeying the demands of his or her addiction. It becomes lonely because those whom the individual cares for will likely cut connections with him or her eventually because of the nature of addiction.
But while the individual’s family and friends are still in his or her life, he or she will experience an abundance of judgment in all forms.
When an individual experiences judgment, it is counterproductive to the goal of recovery.
It may only overwhelm the individual and lead him or her toward further deterioration of their life.
However, the person making judgments may feel they are justified in their actions because a social stigma surrounds drug addiction.
Understanding the opioid epidemic will elucidate why this addiction continues to grow.
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What are Opioids?
Opioids are a class of psychoactive substances that provide pain relief. Some opioids are prescribed by a physician to relieve moderate to severe pain and to relieve symptoms of a severe cough.
Opioids work by binding to opioid receptors in the brain. It can also bind to the spinal cord, stomach, and other parts of the body. The opioid receptors then block signals from the brain to the body and release a great amount of dopamine.
Short-term effects include increased pain tolerance, euphoria, drowsiness, calmness, nausea, constipation, and slowed breathing. Long-term effects include brain damage, liver damage, and coma.
It can also lead to death. Opioids are an extremely hard drug to stop using, especially when it is abused.
The withdrawal symptoms of opioid addiction are intense, which compels an individual to avoid these unpleasant symptoms by continuing to use the drug.
Common Illicit Opioids:
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The Opioid Epidemic
Since 2010, opioid use, hospitalizations, and deaths from overdose have been increasing throughout the U.S.
This is referred to as the opioid epidemic or opioid crisis. The opioid epidemic is now the number one cause of preventable and accidental deaths in the U.S.
Approximately, 40,000 people die each year from an opioid-related overdose. This is equivalent to 115 deaths from opioids per day.
Opioid drugs include substances such as heroin, oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, fentanyl, and morphine.
Opioid addiction does not only target one demographic in particular but rather it is prevalent among the entirety of the population. This includes urban, rural, and upper-class communities, teenagers, veterans, and people with preexisting mental health conditions.
The opioid epidemic does not only affect the individual using opioids, but it also detrimentally affects all of the individual’s loved ones. There are a plethora of reasons as to why an individual decides to use opioids.
Opioids, whether illicit or prescribed, carry a high potential for dependency due to the powerful recreational effects it produces in the body. Tolerance is easily developed, which causes the individual to use more of the illicit opioid. Withdrawal symptoms occur as opioid dependency develops. It can easily lead to a lethal overdose.
The Neurobiology of Opioids
Opioids are highly addictive; the reason for this is because of the way opioids work in the brain, and also how it eventually alters brain chemistry, resulting in brain damage.
During the early stages of opioid abuse, the compulsion to consume the drug increases due to tolerance and physical and psychological dependence. When opioids are consumed, it enters the bloodstream and reaches the brain.
It then binds to the specialized proteins mu-opioid receptors, which are located on the surfaces of brain cells sensitive and susceptible to opioids.
When these chemicals are linked, stimulation of the biochemical brain activity occurs, which produces feelings of intense pleasure and euphoria, as well as reduces pain.
Opioids also release the neurotransmitter dopamine in the nucleus accumbens, a part of the brain that dictates the user’s desire to keep ingesting the drug, to maintain pleasure, and to avoid withdrawal symptoms. Prolonged use of opioids on its own will result in brain damage and an increased likelihood of death.
Factors Involved in Opioid Overdoses
There are many reasons why an individual begins to use illicit opioids in the first place. Research has determined that approximately four in five heroin users began by abusing prescription opioids, such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, and fentanyl.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency has recently placed stricter regulations on prescription opioids in response to the high number of people developing an opioid dependency and the high amount of deaths from overdose.
In a 2014 survey, 94% of participants stated they began to use heroin to replace prescription opioids because it is much cheaper and more accessible as opposed to obtaining a prescription for opioids and still be able to maintain the level of opioids they require to satiate their dependency.
Often, illicit drugs such as heroin are cut with various chemicals and fillers including fentanyl. The effects of fentanyl are 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine.
When heroin is cut with fentanyl, it makes the substance much more potent and dangerous. This attributes to many accidental opioid overdoses that lead to death. Another factor contributing to opioid overdoses is that it can be difficult to determine the amount of heroin ingested, especially if it is administered intravenously because the drug crosses the blood-brain barrier instantaneously.
Therefore, if the user injects more of the drug than they intend, their body may not be able to handle the powerful effects and can lead to an overdose.
Opioid Overdose Signs:
- Difficulty breathing
- Constricted pupils
- Loss of consciousness
Opioid overdose, if addressed immediately, can be treated with the drug Naloxone.
The dosage of Naloxone will depend on the amount of the opioid taken.
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Treatment for Opioid Dependency
Treatment for opioid dependency is commonly treated at substance abuse treatment centers or rehab. Individuals can be treated for a variety of mental health disorders in addition to substance abuse and addiction.
Most substance abuse treatment centers provide outpatient and inpatient services. An individual receiving outpatient services does always not require him or her to remain at the center.
The individual will attend treatment services at the substance abuse center a determined number of times per week. An individual receiving inpatient services requires him or her to remain at the center for the duration of his or her treatment.
Common services provided by substance abuse treatment centers typically include medical detoxification, individual and group therapy, specific psychotherapies and other life skills and coping training, and medication management
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Do not wait any further! Help is available to you when you need it. You are not alone in this struggle.
The trained professionals at Resurgence Behavioral Health genuinely care about you and dedicate their lives to make sure you can live yours.
To overcome substance addiction, proper drug therapy treatment is required. It is not an easy walk, but our treatment is the best option when it comes to your health.
We provide the most professional treatment to give you a fighting chance in a rough battle.
Let today be the day you reach out to Resurgence Behavioral Health so that you can begin to reclaim the life you have been missing!