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Opioid addiction can lead to a lot of health issues, but also economic and social problems. Although opioids are sometimes prescribed by physicians in the treatment of certain conditions such as chronic pain, some individuals end up abusing opioids and overdosing on them.
Some opioids are legal, while others are not. However, abusing any opioid can be very dangerous and may cause the brain to suffer various changes. While there are people who successfully quit an addiction by seeking treatment, others are not this lucky and they end up causing irreversible damage to their bodies, some even passing away as a result of their drug abuse.
Opioid-involved overdose deaths have increased and understanding the dangers of this addiction and how to recognize the signs, as well as where to seek help can help make a change.
What Are Opioids?
Opioids are substances that rely on opioid receptors in order to cause effects similar to those of morphine. They are medicines that are usually prescribed by physicians to relieve severe pain. Although these pain killers can be useful, they can also be extremely addictive.
The CDC declared that over 100,000 people died from a drug overdose in the U.S. between May 2020 and April 2021, and synthetic opioids caused 64% of the deaths.
Fentanyl is the drug abused the most during this period, and the drug that is mainly responsible for a large number of deaths. According to experts, the COVID-19 pandemic caused an increase in the use of fentanyl.
Some opioids that you may see prescribed by healthcare providers include buprenorphine, oxymorphone, codeine, hydrocodone, morphine, methadone, fentanyl, and oxycodone. Meanwhile, there are also illegal opioids, like heroin.
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Why Are Opioids so Addictive?
Opioids are highly addictive, and this is what makes them so dangerous. Even when it comes to legal opioids prescribed by a doctor, one might not follow the recommended dose, which can make them addicted to the substance. However, an addiction can start even when the medicine is taken as directed by the healthcare provider.
When a person becomes addicted to opioids, their priorities will change. They will no longer care about other activities in their lives, and they will just find ways to obtain and use opioids. This can have a huge negative impact on their life, as it might ruin their relationships and professional life.
Opioids impact brain chemistry, and they can make people build a drug tolerance. So, in order to reach the initial effect of the drug, people will start increasing the quantity they consume. But this can be dangerous and result in an overdose. Also, using opioids for a very long time can lead to dependence, and if people do manage to give up on opioids, they will deal with opioid withdrawal.
Legal and illegal opioids are both extremely dangerous, and they have a high risk of overdose if the individual consumes too much of the drug. When opioids are combined with other drugs, the risk is increased.
SIgns of Opioid Abuse
Someone who is abusing opioids will show some signs that those dear to them may notice. They will be unable to abstain from taking opioids. Also, their whole life will be centered around opioids, which may cause them to lose their job and leave them bankrupt and can also ruin friendships and other relationships.
In order to find out whether someone is abusing opioids or not, you must recognize the signs. It is important to bear in mind that some people can abuse opioids yet not deal with physical dependence.
A person who is physically dependent on opioids will find it hard and almost impossible to stop consuming these drugs, and when they do so, they deal with withdrawal symptoms such as sweating and cravings. Some very common signs of opioid addiction include:
- Weight loss
- Being unable to control the use of opioids
- Very intense cravings
- Sleep habit changes
- A low libido
- Financial issues
- Bad hygiene
- Experiencing flu-like symptoms very frequently
- Changes in exercise habits
- Isolating from friends or family
- Stealing from businesses, friends, or family
A doctor can diagnose opioid use disorder. This is mainly because the addiction signs will not be present right away and may not be visible to the naked eye.
Effects of Opioid Addiction
Opioid addiction can lead to various negative effects that affect both the addict and his family/friends. Some effects of opioid addiction include:
- School issues
- Work issues
- Bad financial situation
- Social problems (such as losing the support of family members, friends, romantic partners, etc.)
- Being committed to a mental hospital involuntarily
- Health problems (such as heart infections, collapsed veins, pulmonary complications, abscesses, as well as permanent damage to the kidney, liver, and lungs)
- Building a history of drug-related crimes, as well as incarceration
- Death from suicide or an overdose
Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms
Opioid withdrawal happens when someone stops consuming opioids. It especially occurs when people have been abusing the drug for a very long time or have been consuming large quantities of opioids.
Withdrawal symptoms can be very intense and may cause individuals to go back to abusing the drug. This is why reaching out to a professional in this stage is crucial.
Some withdrawal symptoms include:
- Agitation or irritation
- Muscle pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Suicidal thoughts and attempts
How Real Deal Can Help
Real Deal wants to make a difference by offering a safe space for people who are fresh out of an opioid addiction situation. Here, we offer sober living programs and focus on self-improvement, accountability, and community.
People can live in a quiet, peaceful, and secure place where regular testing and meetings take place. Not only will the former addict get rid of the opioid use problem, but they will also learn how to take care of themselves again.
If you or someone else is struggling with opioid addiction, call a professional as soon as possible! The sooner you seek help, the higher the chances are to prevent permanent damage and tragic scenarios. We are here for you!