Opioids are commonly used for pain management and are prescribed by a medical professional. Many people misuse the medication and take more than directed, which can lead to an addiction to opioids. Since they are very addictive, doctors and pharmacists emphasize the importance of taking the medication as exactly as prescribed. Like other drugs, opioids produce surges of dopamine that rewire the brain and tell the brain to keep taking them.
Changes in the brain
The chemical changes in the brain produce stress, anxiety, and irritability, and more opioids are needed to cope. The increase in frequency and amount used puts you at risk of serious health complications, overdose, and death. We are in a public health crisis caused by the staggering increase in opioid-related deaths. In 2015, over 33,000 Americans died from an opioid overdose, including prescription opioids, heroin, and the illegally manufactured fentanyl, which is a powerful synthetic opioid that is over 50 times more potent than heroin (NIH, National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2018).
Some people do not realize they are physically dependent until they try to stop and experience withdrawals. The withdrawals are a response to the brain needing more of the drug to function. This makes the brain scream for more of the drug to feel “normal.” Although it can seem impossible and takes time with the right treatment plan, your brain can learn how to function without the control of opioids.
Opioid-related overdoses and deaths are occurring at an alarming rate as more people develop an opioid addiction. When a person buys drugs from an illegal source or on the street, there is no way to tell what fillers are used in the drug. Some contain artificial fillers and other more potent drugs.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 80-100 times stronger than morphine and is added to heroin to increase its potency, or be disguised as highly potent heroin. “Many users believe that they are purchasing heroin and actually don’t know that they are purchasing fentanyl – which often results in overdose deaths” (United States Drug Enforcement Administration).
Getting help for an opioid addiction
Medication should be used as prescribed. Never share prescription medication or painkillers with anyone. Not only is it illegal, sharing painkillers can cause health complications and if the person is on other medications, it could interfere with the effectiveness. In addition, the person you share with may be struggling with an opioid dependency and your medication might only fuel the addiction.
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, do not be afraid to ask for help. Many people suffer with addiction and find success in recovery with the right treatment. We all deserve to live a healthy, fulfilling, and meaningful life in sobriety.
Cypress Lakes Lodge specializes in addiction treatment and is located in a serene, remote, lush-green, oxygen enriched environment. The program encompasses holistic addiction therapy and offers yoga and meditation for the mind, body, and soul. The focus is on physical, mental, and emotional well-being by generating the balance of life-enriching treatment, wellness, and healthy, sober, sustainable relationships. Call us to get started: 409-331-2204