What is Opiate Addiction?

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What is Opiate Addiction?

Opioids are a group of drugs both legal and illegal.

Legal opioids, sometimes called narcotics are prescription drugs that are used primarily for pain relief.

They include morphine, codeine, hydrocodone, fentanyl, codeine, and others.

Opioids derive their name from the opium poppy plant.

Some opioids are naturally occurring, and some are chemically produced.

Illegal opioids include heroin.

This class of substances binds to the dopamine receptors in the brain which block feelings of pain and in some people produce a “high”.

Some people enjoy how they feel after using a prescription opioid and become addicted after a legitimate use of a prescription.

Others try an opioid with a goal to get high using someone else’s prescription.

Opioids are highly addictive chemicals that can be easier to obtain than other drugs and give reliable effects when used.

Their effects on the dopamine reward center in the brain can make some people easily addicted and fuel a desire to continue using even after the pain is no longer occurring.

Opioid addiction is the correct term for anyone who is taking more and more of a prescription for Norco or other oxycodone containing pain medicines even after most of the pain is gone, as well as a heroin addict who is injecting heroin.

This addiction can involve both a homeless heroin addict and a comfortable middle-class woman who lives in a neighborhood.

Both can be opioid addicts.

The only requirement is taking an opioid to feel artificial pleasure, avoid withdrawal, or after most of the pain is gone.

Once in the midst of addiction, withdrawal can feel like pain and can precipitate more and more opioid prescription use.

It is estimated that 10 million people abused opioids in 2018.

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Understanding Opiate Addiction

Opiate addiction and opiate abuse are known as risk factors for future heroin addiction.

More than 80% of heroin addicts report using nonmedical opioids prior to starting heroin.

Many of the respondents reported gaining access to opioids from friends, family, and their own prescriptions.

Many people find they are addicted to opioids by accident.

What started as legitimate medical use turned into a prolonged cycle of use and signs of withdrawal when the user tried to cut back.

Opioid use can lead to a development of tolerance very quickly leading to increased use to gain the same feelings of “normalcy”.

This begins the cycle of increasing use, which further increases tolerance, which further increases use and leads to a full-blown physical and mental addiction.

Opioid abuse can happen unexpectedly and quickly.

It is estimated that some addiction can happen in only a few days.

When this happens, the user sometimes cannot even recognize that tolerance is developing and that they are managing an addiction.

Only when others intervene, or other life consequences happen can some addictions be discovered.

When addiction is developing, in between doses the user can start to feel the early signs of withdrawal.

Withdrawal of an opiate can look like irritable behavior, sweating, stomach cramps or diarrhea, feeling anxious and needing to move around, chills, irregular heartbeat, and difficulty sleeping.

Detox from opioids requires careful observation and medical monitoring.

If signs and symptoms of withdrawal appear in-between doses, that can lead the user to take higher doses and more frequent opioids than they had before.

If you find yourself taking more opioids over time in order to feel the same as you did before, that is a sign you have developed tolerance and possibly an addiction.

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Classic Signs of Opiate Addiction

Opioid addiction is a medical condition that Johns Hopkins defines as not being able to abstain from using opioids, and behaviors centered around opioid use that interferes with daily life. Once opioids are used on a regular basis, withdrawal can occur in between doses. This can look like sweating and cravings.

Here are some signs of opiate addiction:

  • Cravings
  • Decrease in personal care
  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Erratic behavior
  • Mood swings
  • Small pupils/Opiate eyes
  • Constipation
  • Getting drugs becomes a high priority
  • Weight loss
  • Financial problems
  • Increased sleeping

If you need opioids in order to feel “normal,” then it is possible you have unknowingly become addicted. If you are crushing tabs, or chewing tabs instead of swallowing them whole, if you are shopping for a doctor to prescribe opioids, or are trying to get it from other sources, those are warning signs of addiction and a sign you may need help.

There is some evidence that opiate withdrawal can continue for a prolonged period, possibly several weeks. It is this long period of time that can put you at risk for relapse in order to decrease withdrawal symptoms. An inpatient based treatment center is recommended to manage the detox and provide the tools for a successful recovery.

How to Tell if Someone is High on Opiates

Opioid addiction can sometimes be difficult to confirm for friends and family members. Behaviors can at first seem vaguely concerning, or something doesn’t add up. This can be frustrating and confusing. One classic sign of opioid addiction is opiate eyes. This is difficult to fake and impossible to control. Many physicians consider the eyes as one of the truest signs of addiction and withdrawal. Active opioid use results in tiny pupils, the black spot in the center of the eye. Sometimes this can be called pinpoint pupils. When someone is withdrawing, the center of the eye can become overly large. In addition, the eyes can be red and droopy. Some have also reported a glassy eye during active use.

When someone uses heroin or another opioid, they may feel an immediate heaviness in arms and legs and become itchy. This may progress to nodding off, or excessive sleepiness. They may slur their speech and look like they are mostly asleep. It may be difficult to focus and coordinate speech and thoughts. Breathing and heart rate will also slow down. If breathing slows too much it can lead to death.

Treatment of Opiate Addiction

If you or a loved one is suffering from an addiction to opioids we are here to help. At XYZ Treatment Center we use an integrated approach to heal and recover. We have 20 years of experience breaking the cycle of addiction and shame. Withdrawal from opioids is a physical process, but recovery is the mental process of rebuilding your life and learning how to live without opioids.

Recovering from the effects of opiate addiction is not a short process, but it is possible. Simply stopping using opioids is not recovery. Learning about addiction, treating any underlying issues, and building coping mechanisms other than drug use are learned behaviors that are taught and supported at XYZ Treatment Center.

Payment Information

Getting treatment for opioid addiction has improved over the last five years. At XYZ Treatment Center we provide free insurance verification for you. The laws around treatment for opioid addiction have been updated to include some important benefits.

The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) of 2008 require health insurers and group health plans to provide the same level of benefits for mental and/or substance use treatment and services that they do for medical/surgical care.
Additional information on paying for opioid addiction is available at this link.
We have trained financial advisors who can help verify payment options and treatment choices that are right for your budget.

How to Get Help

At XYZ Treatment Center we are familiar with the complexities of opioid addiction.

We understand the chemical addiction progression and can ensure a safe medical detox.

We have helped many begin the path towards recovery and healing.

If you are looking for peace and balance in your life, give us a call.

We are here to help.