Nobody plans on becoming addicted to opioids. Many people find themselves in this dire situation because they suffer from chronic pain, they were in an accident, or they have an underlying medical condition.
In any of these situations, your doctor may prescribe you with opioids. The chemical makeup of these prescription medications are powerful, and you can become addicted in a short time.
If you’ve become addicted to opioids and are trying to break free, there are options. Help is out there.
What Are Opioids?
These powerful painkillers are derived from the poppy plant and are used to manage pain. Opioids are partially synthetic compounds that bind with opioid receptors in the brain to reduce pain messages. Common opioids include Fentanyl, Demerol, Tramadol, OxyContin, and hydrocodone.
Opioids differ from opiates in that they are partially synthetic. Opiates come from the opium poppy flower and include morphine, codeine, and opium. While they are natural, they are still addictive. However, they are not as common as opioids. Even heroin is an opioid due to its synthesis process, which includes synthetic compounding.
Most people do not set out with the intention of becoming addicted to painkillers. They may be prescribed opioids by a doctor. However, according to some research, the risk of opioid addiction increases significantly after just five days of use. For example, if you are prescribed a week’s worth of painkillers after a surgical procedure, your risk of becoming addicted is real.
As you continue to take opioids, your tolerance rises, meaning that the usual dosage doesn’t reduce pain or deliver a high as effectively. To combat a high tolerance, you need to take more substantial amounts of opioids in more frequent doses. This increases the risk of addiction further, creating a psychological and physical dependence on opioids.
Opioid addiction can lead to overdose and death, especially when someone mixes their opioids and another substance, like alcohol or benzodiazepines, which are also central nervous system depressants.
How Do I Know if I’m Addicted?
There are some clear signs that your painkiller prescription may have gotten out of hand. With a high tolerance, you may seek other avenues to get your opioids, including many doctors and multiple prescriptions. This is called drug-seeking behavior, and it is a sign of addiction.
Some people begin to snort or inject their opioid pills to get a stronger high. When you can no longer get access to prescription opioids, you may be tempted to move to heroin because it is cheaper and provides the same high.
Additionally, if your
opioid consumption is disrupting your life by causing you to lose jobs, ruin relationships, or otherwise derail your goals, it may be time to seek help.
If you have potent urges that are almost uncontrollable to find more opioids or find yourself lying, stealing, or breaking the law to obtain more opioids, you have an addiction issue.
Physical symptoms of opioid addiction include drowsiness, uncoordinated actions, physical agitation, nausea, mood swings, sleep disruptions, constipation, loss of consciousness, and more.
If you’re addicted to opioids, we want you to know help is available.
What Are My Options?
There are various ways to tackle this problem. It won’t be easy, as opioids have a strong hold on those addicted to them, but many people have successfully broken the chains of addiction, and so can you.
Most of these avenues are more successful if you have support. Breaking an addiction on your own is very difficult, but not impossible.
Some of the tools people have used to break free from opioid addiction are turning to holistic medicines, therapy, and physical therapy. Any of these alternates may help reduce a patient’s pain, so they don’t have to rely so heavily on opioids.
Other ways to manage opioid addiction is to gradually cut down on the number of pills you take, put your plan into writing, and reach out to a loved one for support through the complicated process.
For some, however, breaking free on your own is not possible. Opioid withdrawal is a severe condition and, if unmanaged, could result in death. More severely addicted patients may want to consider a treatment center.
At a treatment center, you get the help you need for your opioid addiction. Doctors and medical staff can manage the symptoms of opioid withdrawal to make you as comfortable as possible through the process.
Combining a stable support system, MAT (Medication-Assisted Therapy), and traditional therapy has helped many patients understand the root causes of their addiction and gain control over their lives.
The first order of business at the treatment center is to get you through withdrawal. When going through withdrawal from opioids, you might experience bone pain, nausea, sleep disruption, tremors, severe gastrointestinal discomfort, and hallucinations.
Withdrawal is not easy or pleasant, but a dedicated and knowledgeable team can help you through it.
Medical-Assisted Therapy can help you feel as comfortable as possible. Treatments using Naltrexone, Vivitrol, Suboxone or Methadone are effective at eliminating physical opioid cravings while you work to strengthen your emotional and psychological health. These treatments can gradually be reduced until you are weaned off opioids.
After a patient has successfully weaned themselves off opioids, the real work starts. The former addict needs to understand the reasons, other than the intense chemical pull of opioids, behind their addiction.
Behavioral therapy can help guide you through some of the problematic issues and experiences that might have led to a dependence on opioids.
Opioids imbue a sense of euphoria in the user, making them forget their stresses and daily troubles. It is crucial to understand why you wanted this sense of euphoria in the first place, and therapy can help you get there.
Through therapy, a patient can come to understand themselves, their past, and how they interact with the world around them. Therapy can give you the tools and strategies you need to navigate daily stresses and people. This can lead you to a happy, sober stable life in the end.
One of the most vital elements in the recovery process is establishing a robust support system for you to lean on. Once you’re sober, you have to rebuild trust and relationships with your family and friends. This takes time and effort.
Staff and medical personnel at Right Path Addiction Centers help guide you through this challenging but ultimately life-changing process while you’re in treatment and after you leave the center.
Ongoing support and treatment can help you balance the challenges of your newly sober lifestyle so that you can maintain it and live a happy life.
Opioid addiction is a disease that doesn’t discriminate between age, ethnicity, or socio-economic status. It can strike anyone, anytime, anywhere.
To break free from addiction, you need the insight and guidance of an experienced, trusted treatment center, like Right Path Addiction Centers.
We can help you break the chains of addiction and get your life back on track. Call us today and start the journey to a happier, sober you.
Native of Moldova, Dr. Zhitar is Board Certified in Addiction Medicine as well as Internal Medicine and completed his training at UPMC Shadyside, Pittsburgh, PA in 2000.