An unprecedented opioid epidemic is sweeping the United States. Unlike other drug addictions, Opioid Addiction doesn’t discriminate — it affects young and old, well-off and economically disadvantaged and all ethnic and racial backgrounds alike. What often begins as a prescription for pain medication can quickly turn into a devastating dependence.
It’s imperative to understand the dark consequences of Opioid Addiction if you or someone you know is struggling with this issue. Every day, more than 130 people die from an opioid overdose.
As public health and government officials scramble for a solution, effective treatment is available for those who wish to break the chains of addiction. At 7 Summit Pathways, we are here to provide personalized, compassionate care to those ready to walk the path of Recovery.
What Are Opioids?
Opioids have incredible benefits for the medical field, relieving painful symptoms and saving lives every day. Yet these substances are some of the most abused and addictive drugs in the U.S. and around the globe.
You may have heard the terms opioids and opiates used interchangeably, but there are some distinct differences. Opiates are derived naturally from the opium poppy plant. Other prescription drugs, like oxycodone and fentanyl, are created chemically in a lab, so they’re not considered opiates. However, opioids as a class of drugs refer to both natural opiates and synthetic or semi-synthetic opioids.
The illicit street drug heroin is also considered an opiate since it’s derived from morphine. This Schedule I drug has no medical uses.
While the strength of opioids varies widely, all are addictive. The most common prescription painkillers people become addicted to include:
What Causes Opioid Addiction?
Doctors have been using opioid medications to treat pain for hundreds of years. Over the past few decades, physicians have increased the prescribing of opioids to manage patients’ chronic pain. Any person taking a prescription opioid is at risk of becoming addicted.
These drugs act on the central nervous system to reduce a patient’s perception of painful symptoms. Opioids also flood the brain with dopamine, the chemical that incites the reward and motivation circuits of the brain. So, even when an individual no longer needs the drug to treat pain, they continue taking them for the sensations they create, which can lead to dependence and tolerance. These are the hallmarks of Opioid Addiction.
Before long, the original dosage fails to create the same level of pleasure. So the user has to take more and more until they can’t function normally without the opioid. Even when they try to quit, agonizing withdrawal symptoms follow, often causing users to seek the drug as a relief, reinforcing their addiction.
Effects of Opioid Addiction
People don’t seem to understand just how addictive opioids are because often times, the initial prescription comes from a doctor. However, even when used as directed, these drugs have a high potential for addiction. Each time you take a prescription opioid, your risk of becoming dependent increases.
There are a few signs and symptoms that point to a growing Opioid Addiction:
- Poor coordination
- Inattention to surroundings
- Shifts in mood
- Taking more pills than prescribed
- Seeking opioid prescriptions from multiple doctors
- Stealing pills from friends or family
If you attempt to stop taking these drugs, you may experience the following withdrawal symptoms:
- Muscle cramps
- Diarrhea and nausea
The scariest effect of Opioid Addiction is how easily an overdose can occur, as these drugs can dangerously slow the users’ breathing, leading to unconsciousness and death.
7 Summit Pathways Can Help With Opioid Addiction
At 7 Summit Pathways, we’re here for patients in Tampa and beyond who wish to break free from Opioid Addiction. It can be tough to do this on your own, which is why we take the time to get to know your individual needs to develop a personalized approach to your care based on the 7 Dimensions of Wellness.
As you work with our kind and compassionate team, experiencing evidence-based treatments, you’ll be able to find your own pathway to Recovery. We will walk alongside you every step of the way. To learn more, we invite you to contact us online. You can also schedule an appointment to see our comfortable treatment facility first-hand.