People’s schema of someone who is struggling with opioid addiction is an unkempt young adult who is living on the streets. While this schema may apply to some people who are struggling with opioid addiction, people who struggle with opioid addiction come from all walks of life. A person who is struggling with opioid addiction may be your esteemed co-worker or your child’s teacher. You may be perplexed about how opioid addiction can afflict the typical people you encounter every day. There are a several reasons typical people get addicted to opioids.
The central fact surrounding the issue is addiction does not discriminate. Addiction is a disease that is just like cancer and heart disease. Just like cancer and heart disease, addiction is not eclectic about its victim’s nationality, race, religion, occupation, education level, socioeconomic status, family background, etc. Addiction will consume anyone it can and try to destruct everything in its victims’ lives.
Another important fact to keep in the front of your mind when you are questioning how typical people can become addicted to opioids is addiction is a disease. Despite the former popular belief, addiction is a legitimate physiological and psychological disease. Addiction is not a flaw of character or a moral issue. People may originally choose to use a substance, but they lose their choice once addiction sets in. When people are suffering from addiction, they cannot stop using without suffering agonizing withdrawal symptoms and psychological torture.
Opioid Addiction: An Addiction that Can Afflict Anyone
Pain is an unpleasant sensation that everyone tries to dodge at all costs. Unfortunately, people experience pain frequently in their everyday lives. However, when a person is severely injured or has a procedure, the pain that they experience is much more severe than a paper cut or scraped knee, so they may be prescribed prescription pain pills. Western medicine places a strong emphasis on alleviating pain and treating symptoms, which is why prescription pain pills were viewed as a remarkable development.
In recent years, prescription pain pills have been prescribed for many more ailments. Many of these ailments are less severe and can easily be managed by non-habit forming medications such as Tylenol or other methods such as ice or heat. An example of this would be a dentist prescribing oxycodone to a patient who has a toothache when the patient could easily manage the pain with Ibuprofen. Prescription pain pills being prescribed for more common ailments means more people are taking them and/or have access to them.
Often, people become addicted to prescription pain pills as a result of medical treatment. Pain medications do not alleviate pain by specifically targeting the area of the body that is causing the pain. They alleviate pain by causing changes in the overall brain and body. People become addicted to prescription pain pills because they experience relief from their emotional pain and euphoric effects because of the changes the pain pills cause to alleviate their physical pain. The emotional effects of prescription pain pills is why people can be introduced to them in other ways such as merely finding them in someone’s house and taking them out of experimentation or at parties where alcohol and other mind-altering, mood-altering substances are being used. Prescription pain pill addiction is a very expensive habit. One pill can cost as much as 50 dollars on the street. Many people who become addicted to prescription pain pills turn to heroin because it is a significantly cheaper high. One hit of heroin can cost as little as 10 dollars.
What Exactly Are Opioids and How Do They Work?
Opioids fall under a category of psychoactive drugs called depressants. Depressants slow down the central nervous system’s activity. When people consume depressants, their bodily processes such as breathing slowdown, which is why opioid overdoses are so common. Examples of opioids are:
- Oxycodone (OxyContin)
- Hydrocodone (Vicodin)
- Other prescription pain pills
Opioids specifically alleviate pain by stopping the transmission of pain signals when they attach to and activate the opioid receptors in the brain and spinal cord. When they target the limbic system, the center of the brain that controls the emotions, they cause feelings of euphoria and pleasure. The brain stem controls the body’s basic life functions such as breathing and heartrate, and when opioids target it, they slow down breathing and heartrate.
When people become physically addicted to opioids, being under the influence of opioids becomes their body’s new homeostasis. If they suddenly stop using the opioids, the body reacts and presents painful withdrawal symptoms such as:
- Muscle pain
- Body aches
- Severe cravings
- High blood pressure
- Rapid Heartrate
- Trouble Sleeping
To the average person, the opioid withdrawal symptoms would not be as severe, but because the person addicted to opioids is accustomed to not feeling pain, they perceive the pain from the opioid withdrawal symptoms as more severe than most would perceive it.
Opioid overdoses occur when too much of the opioid is consumed or it is laced with another substance such as fentanyl. Overdoses occur when the respiratory system becomes so suppressed that it stops working properly. The drug Narcan/Nalaxone counteracts the overdose by blocking the opioid receptor sites, temporarily inhibiting the effect of the drug. Signs of an opioid overdose include:
- Irregular or no breathing
- Bluish skin
- Cold, clammy skin
There is Hope for Those Suffering from Opioid Addiction
Opioid addiction can consume anyone. It is especially easier for people to become addicted to opioids nowadays because doctors so readily prescribe prescription pain pills as if it is a panacea for pain. However, recovery is always possible, but the person suffering from addiction must be willing to pursue it. Denial is the hallmark of addiction, so the people suffering from addiction may not realize that they have a problem and need help for a while. Relapse is a part of recovery, but it is not a mandatory part of recovery. Recovery is a process that may require trial and effort for some people who are going through it. Though addiction has been scientifically and medically proven as a disease, it is still a complex issue. Researchers and medical professionals still have many questions about the complexities of it and how to treat it.
If you or someone you know is suffering from opioid addiction, there are many resources you or the person you know can turn to for help.
- Inpatient treatment
- Residential treatment
- Outpatient treatment
- Intensive outpatient treatment (IOP)
- Alcoholics’ Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics’ Anonymous (NA)
Quality addiction treatment may be costly, but there are many resources you or the person you know can turn to for financial assistance.
- Health Insurance
- Treatment scholarships and grants
- Government assistance
- Personal loans
- Friends and Family
- State funded rehab centers
Just Believe Recovery Center is an outstanding treatment center in Jensen Beach, Florida. If you are interested in treatment for yourself or a loved one or simply have questions about addiction and treatment, you can call them 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 877-813-9235 or visit their website justbelieverecovery.com. You or your loved can be just a step away from receiving the gift of recovery, so reach out to them today.