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What is Opioid Addiction?

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What is Opioid Addiction?

What is opioid addiction, and what are its effects? Read on to learn about opioid addiction, causes, risk factors, and treatment options.

Understanding Opioid Addiction

Any person that takes opioids is at the risk of developing an opioid use disorder. An individual’s personal history and frequency of use play a role in opioid use disorder. However, it’s difficult to predict a person’s vulnerability to addiction at the initial stages of intake.

Even though opioids are prescription medications, continuous intake can damage the brain. Over time, individuals can easily develop significant health, social, and economic challenges. Please keep reading to know more about opioid drug addiction.

What is Opioid Addiction?

Opioid use disorder describes a state where an individual feels a compulsive and powerful urge to continue opioid intake. The urge typically extends to periods when such individuals no longer need to continue consuming the substance. Opioids are a class of substances that significantly affect the nervous system to produce feelings of pain relief and pleasure.

How Does Opioid Dependence Develop?

When a person takes opioids, there’s a tendency to experience a change in brain chemistry. These changes can cause drug tolerance, which means doses of opioid addiction medication may need to be increased. Due to the effects of opioids on the brain, they have a high potential for resulting in addiction. Sudden discontinuation in its intake can also cause withdrawal symptoms like anxiety and muscle cramping.

Different Types of Opioids

There are two major categories of the types of opioids. These include the following:

Illegal Opioids

Examples of illegal opioids include heroin and fentanyl. Statistics show that over 28 percent of all overdoses due to opioids in 2019 involved intake of heroin. Illegally manufactured and distributed fentanyl is also rising in various U.S states.

Prescribed Opioids

These types of opioids include oxycodone, hydrocodone, methadone, and morphine. These drugs are for the treatment of moderate to severe pain, resulting in serious side effects.

Opioid Addiction Statistics

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), an estimate of 10.1 million individuals between ages of 12 or older misused opioids. These statistics were valid in 2019 for the year before. A specific number of 9.7 million people misused their intake of prescription pain relievers, while 745,000 continued the intake of heroin.

Conditions That Opioids Are Prescribed For

Doctors typically prescribe opioids as a pain reliever, but other conditions may require intake of the substance. Some of these include:

  • Cough
  • Addiction to other opioids
  • Diarrhea

Opioid Addiction Causes and Risk Factors

Drug tolerance due to opioid intake causes addiction. Individuals develop a dependence such that they experience withdrawal symptoms if they discontinue the substance’s intake. There are certain causes of opioid addiction or risk factors of opioid abuse. Here are some to note:

Family History

Opioid abuse is prominent in certain families and typically involves genetic predisposition. Individuals who have a blood relative with a history of opioid abuse are at a greater risk of developing an addiction.

Mental Health

People experiencing a mental health disorder like attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or depression have a higher tendency to develop an addiction. Many times, intake of substances like opioids seems to be a way out of coping with such painful feelings.

Biological Factors

Some biological factors may also contribute to opioid abuse. For instance, the intake of opioids at an early stage can cause changes in brain development. It may also increase the chances of addiction.

Other Factors

Other risk factors that may cause opioid use disorder include peer pressure and lack of family involvement. Many young adults begin to misuse the intake of opioids due to difficult family situations or a lack of bond with siblings or parents.

Signs and Symptoms of Opioid Addiction

Constant intake of opioids leading to addiction may call for early opioid addiction rehab. Consult a mental health professional if these signs of opioid addiction are visible:

Physical Symptoms of Opioid Addiction

Major physical signs of opioid addiction include:

  • Weight loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Cramping
  • Itchy skin
  • Headaches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Joint and muscle pain

Psychological Symptoms of Opioid Addiction

Some noticeable psychological opioid addiction symptoms include:

  • Loss of concentration or interest
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings or behavioral changes
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Distorted perception of reality

Other Symptoms of Opioid Addiction

Some other signs of an opioid use disorder, which include mood and behavioral symptoms, include:

  • Slurred speech
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Withdrawal from social activities
  • Hyperactivity

Side Effects of Opioid Addiction

Continuous intake of opioids proves to cause certain side effects depending on the frequency and length of use. Here’s what to know:

Short-Term Effects of Opioid Addiction

Some of the short-term side effects of opioid addiction include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Impotence in men
  • Constipation
  • Euphoria
  • Breathing Difficulty
  • Headaches

Long-Term Effects of Opioid Addiction

In the long run, here are some of the side effects that occur:

  • Liver damage
  • Increased tolerance
  • Withdrawal symptoms
  • Infertility in women

Opioid Overdose

Opioid Overdose
Intake of too many opioids can cause an overdose, which can be life-threatening. Some of the noticeable symptoms of opioid overdose include:

  • Shallow breathing
  • Lessened Alertness
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Confusion

Treatment of Opioid Addiction

There are various opioid addiction treatment options. Some of the significant ones include:

Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Addiction

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) for opioid use disorder involves using certain substances in combination with behavioral therapies in an opioid addiction rehab program. Three major FDA-approved drugs for opioid dependence include naltrexone, methadone, and buprenorphine. All three opioid addiction treatment medications are useful in combination with counseling and psychosocial support.

Opioid Addiction Support Groups

Support groups are a helpful opioid addiction treatment program. These groups usually include individuals facing similar challenges, especially substance use disorder. These individuals come together to share their struggles without the fear of judgment.

With support groups as a treatment for opioid addiction, learning from other people and knowing more about their recovery journey is easier. Individuals typically share how they manage cravings, triggers, or negative thoughts.

Get Help at Alta Centers

Alta Centers provides suitable opioid addiction treatment programs for individuals experiencing opioid drug addiction. We understand that admission to a treatment center is an imperative and life-changing decision. Hence, we provide support throughout the opioid detox and rehab process, from the first point of contact to aftercare. Contact us today for a supportive treatment procedure.

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