28th September 2019
Opioid addiction and abuse is increasing at an exponential rate and has become a national crisis in the United States. Do you know that the National Institute on Drug Abuse has reported that more than 2 million Americans abuse opioids and over 90 Americans die by opioid overdose every day, on average? The numbers are alarming to say the least!
Opioids are a type of drug, which can be prescribed by a doctor to reduce pain after you have experienced a major injury or undergone surgery. Some doctors give them for chronic pain as well. They include strong pain relievers, such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, fentanyl, and tramadol. The illegal drug heroin is also an opioid. They essentially cause side effects like mental fog, drowsiness, fatigue, nausea, and constipation. Even though they make the pain go away temporarily, they induce a feeling of being “high”, which leads to addiction.
Taking prescription opioids on a regular basis leads to dependence and addiction. What opioids do is trick the brain and body into believing that they are a “must” when it comes to survival. As you learn to tolerate the dose you have been prescribed, you may find that you need even more medication to relieve the pain or achieve well-being, which can lead to dependency.
Dependency is feeling withdrawal symptoms when you are unable to get access to the drug. Addiction is even more dangerous – it is actually a chronic brain disease that causes a person to compulsively seek out drugs even though they cause harm. The risks of dependence and addiction significantly go up when opioid abuse begins. Abuse is defined as getting hands on someone else’s medicine, taking it in a different way that prescribed, taking excess of the medicine, or taking it to get high as mentioned above.
When a person frequently takes opioids, and are unable to control the dosage, it could lead to overdose. If the person doesn’t receive the right medical attention immediately, overdose could lead to death. Watch out for these signs of opioid overdose:
Remember, the main treatment for opioid addiction is medication assisted treatment (MAT) that not only includes the right medicines, but also counseling, physical development exercises, and support from family and friends. MAT can help the person stop using the drug, get through withdrawal, and cope with cravings. If a loved one is considering taking opioids to manage pain, it is imperative to talk to a physician anesthesiologist or other pain medicine specialist so they can use the drugs safely and explore alternate options if needed.
Our wellness center has come up with excellent programs for dealing with opioid addiction and successfully treating them – please feel free to reach out to us for more information.