The Science of Opioid Addiction – You Are Not Alone

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Opioid products are derived from plants and other substances containing chemicals, and because of this, opioid addiction has been around almost since the beginning of time. It has been used in war for medical treatment, and today is used to treat a wide range of surgical or chronic pain problems. But it has become a crisis. Opioid addiction and overdoses cause more deaths than car accidents and gun violence for Americans below the age of 55 and have killed more Americans than HIV. Understanding this crisis can help you in your recovery.

Overdoses are the worst-case scenario for those who are addicted and their families, and that dealing with this addiction is a crisis in itself. Find out more about this addiction, and know that you are not alone.

Defining the Opioid Crisis

The opioid crisis is a crisis that costs the United States $78 billion in medical and legal costs every year. The Mayo Clinic reports that nearly one-third of Americans are using prescription opioids and that America leads the world here.

Approximately 80 percent of the world’s opioids are found and consumed in America. This addiction is more common than the disease of diabetes. These numbers define the opioid crisis.

These are the most common opioids used in America:

  • Codeine – Tylenol 1, Tylenol 2, Tylenol 3, Tylenol 4
  • Fentanyl
  • Heroin
  • Percocet
  • Oxycodone
  • Morphine
  • Methadone
  • Tramadol

How Does Opioid Addiction Happen?

The problem of opioid addiction is not just social. It’s a chemical problem in the brain. The body becomes dependent on these chemicals, and overuse to accommodate that dependency is what has led to the crisis. That is why doctors today are so reluctant to prescribe them. Some doctors have even been charged for over-prescribing, as that factor has led to overdose and wrongful death.

When you first take opioids, your body releases endorphins at a specific rate. These are the chemicals in these drugs that make you feel happy. The more you take, the more your body needs. That is because as you take them over time, your body will slow down this endorphin rush. 

The same dose will stop triggering this feel-good feeling. This is why so many people overdose. Most overdoses are accidental. People just want to keep taking the medicine until they feel good again, and have been taking it too long to find effects. This is the point when you’ve developed a tolerance to the chemical.

Symptoms of Opioid Addiction

When your behavior starts to change to accommodate this tolerance, then you might have an opioid addiction. Talk to your doctor if you can, or, contact a treatment center that can help you recover from addiction and eliminate social behaviors contributing to your addiction.

You know you are addicted if you can’t stop taking the substance. Other signs of opioid addiction include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Bad coordination
  • Slower heart rate
  • Nausea
  • Constipation – a side effect of the medication
  • Bad decision-making
  • Loss of care or concern in daily responsibilities, or, putting meds over responsibilities
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety or panic attacks

Ask for Support

When you are dealing with opioid addiction, know that you are not alone.  Detox, recovery, and treatment centers know just how pervasive and dangerous this problem really is. There is help for you through every step of your recovery. Contact a rehabilitation center to find out more and get started on the journey of putting this crisis behind you for good.