More than 2.5 million Americans are dealing with an opioid use disorder. This problem can not only affect someone’s finances and health, but it can also be deadly, especially in the case of an overdose.
Opioids can be prescribed by a doctor, in which case one has easy access to them and may start abusing them. In other situations, people can obtain opioids illegally from various sources.
Even though opioids are effective in treating different types of pain, they are also dangerous, and the pleasant feelings they give are short-lived as the bad effects may quickly take over. If a person is addicted to opioids, it is important to seek help straight away, whether they have a mild addiction or they experience severe symptoms.
Opioids are a class of drugs usually prescribed by a doctor to reduce pain. They work by reducing the intensity of the pain signals reaching your brain. Also, they can have an effect on the brain areas that control breathing and emotion. There are different types of opioids, and the one prescribed to a patient depends on several factors. Some of the most common opioids include:
Prescription opioids are legal drugs, but they are not the only ones causing addiction issues. There are also illegal opioids such as heroin that people may obtain in different ways. Unfortunately, whether the addiction involves a legal or illegal opioid drug, there is always a risk of complications and even death caused by an overdose.
According to the CDC, more than 100,000 people died as a result of a drug overdose from May 2020 to April 2021 in the U.S. 64% of these deaths were caused by synthetic opioids.
Excessive opioid use has been a problem for a long time, but the problem was worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic when fentanyl use increased.
Opioids can be great when it comes to treating acute pain, chronic pain, and pain in palliative or end-of-life care. A doctor may also prescribe opioids as a substitution therapy to decrease harm for opioid-dependent individuals.
However, using these drugs comes with several risks. Consuming them regularly can increase your tolerance, which can lead to opioid dependence. So, the doses will become more frequent and higher. This can quickly turn into an addiction, which will result in what doctors call “opioid use disorder”.
Why Opioids Are Dangerous
Opioids come with plenty of risks, just like any medicine. Opioid drugs can be life-threatening, especially when consumed excessively. The risk increases when:
- You take opioids for the first time
- You are older
- You are dealing with a lung problem
- Your dosage is increased
The effects of the drug can be great for people suffering from pain, but the same benefits can turn out to be dangerous when the drug is abused.
When you take lower doses of the drugs, you may start feeling sleepy. Meanwhile, when you start taking higher doses, your heart and breathing rate will be slowed down. This can be deadly. Even worse, if you become hooked on the pleasure feelings offered by opioids, you will be determined to keep consuming them, which increases the risks and may turn into an addiction.
Opioid drugs can affect the chemistry of the brain. The more someone consumes them, the higher the probability of developing a drug tolerance. Therefore, people will use larger quantities in order to reach the “feel good” effects that made them consume the drugs in the first place.
Apart from potential health issues and the risk of an overdose, opioid addiction will also affect someone’s personal and professional life. People may end up ruining their relationships with their partners, friends, or family members, and may even neglect their responsibilities at work. This can make them lose their job.
Also, their finances will be spent on opioids for the most part, and in the absence of a job, they may end up bankrupt. So, to get more opioids, they may start obtaining money in less moral ways. Beyond monetary losses, the withdrawals from opioids are miserable.
Signs of Opioid Abuse
It may take a while to notice the signs of opioid use. But once the signs become more obvious or the person starts acting out of the ordinary, their loved ones will know something is wrong.
It is important to recognize the signs of opioid addiction so you can get help for the individual before their addiction leads to something tragic. Opioid addiction signs will come in a combination of the following:
- Decreased libido
- Poor hygiene
- Changes in sleep habit
- Intense cravings
- Inability to control opioid use
- Weight loss
- Change in exercise habits
- Flu-like symptoms that appear very often
- Becoming isolated
- Starting to steal from family, friends, or even businesses
It is very important to get a diagnosis from a doctor to be sure it’s a case of opioid addiction.
Best Treatment Route
Because it can be difficult to stop consuming opioids, it is important to go through treatment to make sure the addiction disappears, and the person can go back to living a normal life.
When someone is addicted to opioids, they will be evaluated by doctors to identify the problem and determine the right treatment. Opioid use disorders can be treated both on an inpatient basis and an outpatient one.
To get help and receive the treatment necessary, an addict should reach out or be taken to an addiction clinic. There, they can go through rehab and get back to an addiction-free lifestyle.
Find The Help You Need
Real Deal Therapy & Wellness does more than just help you recover from drug addiction. We focus on your mental health, and we can treat issues that you may have been dealing with alongside your addiction. This includes anxiety, depression, or anything that may have worsened your addiction. Treating these issues is important in order to go back into society with new forces and prevent a relapse.
You should seek help from professionals if opioid addiction is present. The sooner you get help, the faster you’ll be able to get back to your normal life.