What Are Opioids?

Opioids, also called opiates, are a class of drugs derived from the opium poppy. It includes synthetic or partially synthetic formulas for pain management or treatment. Opioids mask the pain rather than addressing the underlying causes of pain to maintain a functional life. Common opioids include:

  • Hydrocodone
  • Percodan
  • Oxycodone
  • Heroin

Many opioids, such as oxycodone, codeine, and morphine are prescription pain medications. Using these substances in recreational ways without being prescribed by a doctor is considered opioid abuse. The type of opioid also determines its effect. Heroin is illegal.

Opioids are highly addictive. Abuse of the drug can lead to addiction and serious health problems that may lead to death.

Opioids impact brain chemistry and the body. Addiction to opioids can develop extremely quickly with the slightest use. It gives the user a temporary feeling of intense pleasure. Addiction can be physical in the way the body craves the drug. Individuals often have trouble achieving a satisfactory high due to tolerance levels. This leads to using more, which leads to stronger effects on the mind, body, and health.

What are the effects of opioid use?

Opioid abuse and addiction can result in negative mental and physical effects:

  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Hallucinations
  • Coma
  • Weakened immune system
  • Slow breathing rate
  • Increased risk of HIV
  • Increased risk hepatitis
  • Risk of choking

What are the symptoms of opioid abuse and addiction?

Signs and symptoms of opioid abuse and addiction include:

  • Increased tolerance of drug
  • Inability to stop/reduce usage
  • Withdrawal symptoms
  • Desire continues to use despite consequences
  • Impact quality of life, occupation, and relationships
  • Excessive sleeping or extreme weight loss

Withdrawal Symptoms

The short term and intensity of withdrawal symptoms depend on the type of drug, length of addiction, and the dosage being used. Withdrawal symptoms of opioid usage include:

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Agitation
  • Tremors
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle aches
  • Extreme mental and physical discomfort

How is opioid addiction treated?

Treatment plans are designed addressing all components of the individual and sometimes hospitalization is required. These components include:

  • Mental health
  • Physical health
  • Environment
  • Social relationships

Detoxification is usually the first attempt at treatment and often follows medication. A combination treatment helps people lower the dose or wean themselves off the drug while lessening the withdrawal symptoms. This is done under the supervision of professionals. In addition, support groups, therapy, and vocational rehab are often helpful resources for long-term recovery.

What is the outlook for opioid addiction?

Quitting opioid use and seeking help is a tough reality to face and not an easy road. However, there are many people who have overcome this addiction through specialized treatment plans, support groups, and professional guidance. It is possible to avoid serious health complications when seeking out treatment.

Take the first steps to recovery by contacting us today