Opioid addiction is a worldwide health concern that affects millions of individuals across the United States. The opioid crisis impacts families and communities at large.
We’re here to help you understand the complexities of opioid addiction and how to handle it.
What is Opioid Addiction?
Opioid addiction is a disorder that involves uncontrollable opioid use despite adverse effects.
Opioids include prescription analgesics, heroin, and artificial opioids like fentanyl. Addiction to these substances often causes tolerance, requiring higher drug amounts for the same effect. This overuse often causes dependence to develop, leading to withdrawal symptoms in the absence of opioids.
How Opioid Addiction Occurs
Opioid addiction often originates from misuse. Misuse can involve using another person's prescription or consuming the medication incorrectly or at the wrong dose.
Opioids connect with the brain's opioid receptors. They alleviate pain and prompt a substantial dopamine release. This reaction often motivates individuals to repeatedly consume opioids for the feelings of pleasure.
With continued use, opioids cause changes in the brain. Eventually, the brain depends on the drug to achieve pleasure. Attempting to quit can lead to intense withdrawal symptoms, making it challenging to quit without assistance.
Signs and Symptoms of Opioid Addiction
Early recognition of opioid addiction can speed up intervention. Symptoms fall into physical, behavioral, and psychological categories.
Physical symptoms can be evident to the naked eye. These signs include:
- Reduced breathing rate
- Narrowed pupils
- Recurring flu-like symptoms
Physical dependence can also cause withdrawal symptoms such as restlessness, muscle and bone ache, insomnia, and diarrhea.
Behavioral signs of opioid addiction can involve mood swings and behavioral changes. Individuals may begin to neglect essential responsibilities or activities. Time spent on obtaining, using, or recuperating from opioid effects may become the user’s main focus.
Psychological symptoms are crucial for identifying addiction. These include:
- Impaired judgment
Individuals may obsess over obtaining and using opioids, even in the face of harm.
Risk Factors for Opioid Addiction
Various risk factors influence opioid addiction. Genetics significantly affect addiction, with a higher prevalence in those with a family history of substance misuse.
Personal history, such as past substance abuse or mental health disorders, also increases risk. Environmental influences like peer pressure, stress, and inadequate family involvement can also lead to addiction.
Impact of Opioid Addiction
The consequences of opioid addiction are extensive. Individually, it can lead to health issues like an increased risk of infections, overdoses, and even death.
Other consequences involve job loss, financial distress, and broken relationships. Publicly, it results in serious health issues, including the spread of HIV and hepatitis C, and even heightened crime rates.
Treatment for Opioid Addiction
Treatment for opioid addiction is available for those struggling with these concerns. It typically starts with detoxification to purge opioids from the body. Due to the risk of severe withdrawal symptoms, this should only occur under medical supervision.
Post-detox, a blend of therapies is usually the next step. These can include medication-assisted treatment (MAT), with drugs like methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone to manage cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
Behavioral therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and contingency management can also be useful.
Inpatient and Outpatient Treatment Options
Both inpatient and outpatient treatment options are available. Inpatient or residential treatment offers a structured recovery environment.
Outpatient treatment provides flexibility and can be beneficial for those with robust support networks. The choice between the two depends on the addiction's severity and the individual's circumstances.
Get Help with Opioid Addiction
Battling opioid addiction may feel daunting, but recovery is achievable when the proper steps are followed. Various treatment options exist, all adaptable to each individual's unique needs.
If you or someone you know struggles with opioid addiction, get in touch with Aurora Behavioral Health-Arizona for help. Our team is dedicated to helping individuals conquer addiction and regain their lives.