Opiate Abuse and Addiction

Opiate Abuse and Addiction

prescription painkillersHere are Pomarri, we safely treat opiate abuse (in pill and IV form) on an outpatient basis. Here are some key facts about opiate abuse and its associated dangers.

What are opiates?

Opiates are drugs used to treat symptoms of pain. They derive from the opium poppy, hence their name. Most opiates are legal by prescription, but some forms, such as heroin and opium, are illegal substances. Two examples of prescription opiates are morphine and codeine.

Related to opiates are a class of synthetic or partly-synthetic drugs called opioids. These prescription drugs are manufactured to generate the same pain-relieving effects that opiates have, and their active ingredients derive from chemical synthesis rather than from the opium poppy plant. Some examples of prescription opioids include:

  • Oxycodone (e.g., Percocet)
  • Hydrocodone (e.g., Vicodin)
  • Hydromorphone (e.g., Dilaudid)
  • Fentanyl (e.g., Duragesic)

How do opiates work?

Opiates and opioids work by targeting your central nervous system, altering the way that pain is perceived. They mimic natural neurotransmitters and attach to specific opioid receptors in the brain, spinal cord, and other organs in the body, after which nerve cells send signals to the brain that block pain, slow breathing, and have an overall calming effect. Put more briefly, opiates and opioids flood the brain’s reward system with dopamine. This typically produces feelings of euphoria, which are often sought by those who abuse and misuse the drug.

Dangers of opiate abuse and addiction

The euphoric and calming effects that opiates and opioids produce make them especially addictive. In fact, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, an estimated 2.1 million Americans suffer from from substance use disorders related to prescription opioid pain relievers, while nearly half a million Americans suffer from heroin addiction. Moreover, the number of unintentional prescription drug overdose deaths has more than quadrupled since 2009.

Opiate abuse and addiction carry with them a myriad of negative consequences, both physical and psychological.

Physical effects

Physical symptoms of opiate addiction include exhaustion, respiratory depression, muscle spasms, insomnia, nausea, vomiting, sweating, and seizures. Ultimately, the physical symptoms of opiate addiction can develop into kidney damage, liver damage, damage to brain structure, bleeding ulcers, and regular seizures. Opiate addiction can even lead to coma or death.

Psychological effects

Psychological symptoms of opiate abuse and addiction include hallucinations, delusions, paranoia, and amplified mental health issues. Ultimately opiate addiction can lead to chronic psychological symptoms and even amplify existing mental health issues.

Behavioral effects

Ultimately, opiate abuse and addiction can have major behavioral effects. Opiate addiction can lead to behaviors such as lying, growing restless, growing lethargic, and withdrawing from once-pleasurable activities. It can also lead to illegal behaviors such as forging prescriptions and robbing pharmacies in order to gain access to more medication. Those who suffer from opiate addiction might also begin to see decreased performance in school or work, or they may begin to fall short of home responsibilities. Opiate addiction can also lead to financial strain, homelessness, job loss, damaged relationships, divorce, and so much more.