If you’ve ever been injured or sick and received a prescription for a drug such as codeine, Vicodin or morphine, you have taken opioids. This class of drugs derives from the opium poppy and has caused a nationwide epidemic because of its addictive nature. Why are opioids so powerfully addictive?
How People Get Hooked on Opioids
Most people who use opioids do so responsibly, according to their doctor’s instructions. However, even under these circumstances, these drugs can cause an accidental addiction because of the way they affect brain chemistry. Opiates create artificial endorphins, which leads to a sense of euphoria. Over time, these drugs prevent the brain from producing any endorphins on its own. At this point, the only way to experience that same high is to use more opioids.
The risk of addiction increases with longer-term use or when people use opioids in a manner other than how they were prescribed, such as crushing pills to snort them. Taking more than the prescribed amount or using the drugs more often than directed can also lead to addiction. Research has shown that taking opioids for more than a few days increases the odds that someone will go on to develop a drug dependence.
Illegal Opioid Use
Because many states have set strict limits on how much health providers can prescribe, you’ll likely find your doctor is unwilling to increase your dosage or renew your prescription opioids. In a tragic twist, the laws that are supposed to keep people safe from opioid addiction have led some users to start obtaining their drugs illegally, which is dangerous for a variety of reasons.
Some dealers cut their products with a more potent synthetic opioid known as fentanyl to increase the likelihood that their users will get hooked. Since fentanyl is up to 100 times more powerful than morphine, these circumstances have led to a marked increase in overdose deaths.
How to Prevent an Opioid Addiction
If you need opioids for medical reasons, work with your health care provider to ensure you are taking the lowest possible dose for the shortest amount of time. If you have chronic pain, managing it with opioids is not a safe long-term strategy. Instead, explore alternative options with your doctor, including holistic pain management therapies such as meditation and acupuncture.
Help prevent addiction in your household by keeping opioid medications under lock and key, and disposing of any unused drugs properly. Ask your pharmacist whether they offer any medication take-back programs.
If someone in your home is addicted to opioids, it’s also smart to have a supply of naloxone on hand, and make sure you know how to administer it. Naloxone (brand name Narcan) is a non-addictive, lifesaving drug that can quickly reverse an accidental opioid overdose. Depending on where you live, you may be able to get naloxone without a prescription.
Treating a Prescription Drug Addiction
Do you need opioid addiction help for yourself or someone close to you? Vista Taos Renewal Center offers individualized prescription drug treatment programs at our accredited facility in New Mexico. We will help you get clean and learn to address the underlying causes of addiction, so you can become a healthier, happier person. Contact us to verify your insurance and get on the path to recovery.