In discussions regarding the opioid epidemic, many who have come through the other side of addiction, there is a similar story. A prescription for a narcotic painkiller like Oxycontin or Vicodin is prescribed after a physical injury or surgery. The pain relieving effect of the drug is strong. So strong, that it instantly starts altering the brain chemistry to become dependent on the drug. Rather than rely on the amount of pain relief the brain can create on its own, it prefers the opioid blocking effect of the narcotic painkiller. There is another effect which the brain finds itself drawn to, especially if it has a “reason” to be drawn to it: euphoria. When people take a high dosage of narcotic painkillers for the first time they report feeling warm, fuzzy, relaxed, and pain free- both physically and emotionally. Some get addicted right away, not wanting that feeling to fade. For others, it takes time for the tolerance to fully develop. Experiencing such a strong euphoric effect can happen with or without abusing the prescription drugs. One doesn’t have to take more than they are prescribed, because the drug is that strong. However, once abuse starts and feelings of euphoria increases, the cycle of addiction begins.

Addiction is more than the abuse of a mind altering substance, like heroin or opioid prescription painkillers. Addiction is having deep underlying “justifiable” reasons to keep using drugs and alcohol, because the psychological effects of drugs like opioids include not just pain relief for physical pain but pain relief for emotional pain as well. When the painkillers wear off, the physical and psychological symptoms of withdrawal, like insufferable pain and cravings, can be seen as manifestations. They serve as a reminder that the emotional pain hasn’t gone away. The more emotional pain is stuffed down, the more painful it gets. Reflectively, the more that pain is “treated” with high amounts of opioids, the less the brain is able to tolerate any kind of pain, making the pain feel more painful. As a result, there is a growing need for a growing amount of painkillers. Physical pain grows tolerant because the brain can’t produce opioids anymore. Emotional pain grows tolerant because the brain can’t produce euphoria through dopamine anymore. This is why addiction is described as mental, physical, and spiritual. Addiction takes over your brain, it changes your body, and in the process, it breaks your spirit.

Unfortunately, painkillers don’t actually kill the pain- not emotionally and not psychologically. Painkillers temporarily change the chemistry of the brain in order to provide pain relief. Many turn to heroin because painkillers no longer provide relief; in addition, the relief they need from high amounts of painkillers can become too costly. Humans are imperfect and flawed. They get hurt, they old onto hurt, and they try to find relief from that hurt. Though there are conversations about genetic predispositions and character traits which create a higher likelihood of substance abuse, the truth is, anyone can become addicted to heroin if they find a reason to continue turning to the euphoric, pain numbing effects.


Cypress Lake Recovery welcomes you to our residential treatment programs for heroin addiction. Focusing on healing the mind, body, and spirit, our three phase program works to create a balanced, confident, and rejuvenated you. Call us today for information on how we can help you start your journey to recovery. 866-217-2636.