What is Opioid Addiction?
Opioids are a specific type of pain medication that blocks pain and creates a feeling of euphoria for the user. A handful of different types of drugs fall under this label: Oxycodone, Fentanyl, Buprenorphine, Methadone, Oxymorphone, Hydrocodone, Codeine, and Morphine.
Often opioid addicts begin their usage innocently. The addict sustains an injury that requires legitimate pain medication. Then eventually, the pain meds don’t work as well as the victim hopes, or they find themselves taking more meds to get the same effect.
They begin to deal with their pain with only the meds, and before they know it, they’ve developed an opioid dependence. Even when the opioid is prescribed appropriately, an addiction can result.
The move from opioid user to opioid addict starts when the opioid changes the chemistry of the brain. This then leads to drug tolerance. Then the user needs more of the drug to achieve the same effect.
Opioids were not necessarily a bad thing from the start. After all doctors, people who pledge to protect life, prescribed them.
But the desire to kill more than just physical pain has led to the overuse of opioids, and then dependence, and subsequently desperation.
This is opioid addiction and often the story of every opioid addict, good people who weren’t just looking for a fix, but people who had a legitimate injury and then received relief and then couldn’t let go.
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What Are the Symptoms of Opioid Addiction?
Short-Term Opioid Addiction Symptoms
Drowsiness: Feeling abnormally sleepy or tired during the day. Forgetfulness or falling asleep at inappropriate times.
Slowed breathing: The opioids can attach to central nervous system receptors . This can dramatically slow the breathing rate. An opioid overdose can become life-threatening and cause to stop breathing completely.
Constipation: the heavy usage of opioids can make become constipated.
Unconsciousness: Opioids can lead to a decreased level of consciousness, pinpoint pupils and respiratory depression.
Long-Term Opioid Addiction Symptoms
Continued use or abuse of opioids can result in physical dependence and addiction. The body adapts to the presence of the drug and withdrawal symptoms occur if use is reduced or stopped. These include restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, and cold flashes with goose bumps (“cold turkey”). Tolerance can also occur, meaning that long-term users must increase their doses to achieve the same high.
What Are the Symptoms of Opioid Withdrawal?
Opioids cause problems, but once you’re addicted, you cannot just walk away from the drugs without experience even more problems. Withdrawal symptoms vary.
Early Withdrawal Symptoms
Addicts experience early withdrawal symptoms as soon as 12 hours after the last drug use. The strength of the drug determines the severity of the withdrawal. These symptoms include agitation, anxiety, muscle aches, increased tearing, insomnia, runny nose, sweating, and yawning. Your body is reacting physically to its desire for the drug early on.
Later Withdrawal Symptoms
Later withdrawal symptoms come after the early symptoms. These may last up to a week and typically peak about 72 hours after drug usage. They include abdominal cramping, diarrhea, dilated pupils, goose bumps, nausea, and vomiting.
While the symptoms are uncomfortable, they are not life threatening. Addicts need to remember this as they sustain the symptoms of withdrawal.
What Are the Dangers of Opioid Addiction?
More than any other danger in an opioid addiction, death can result from an opioid overdose. Unfortunately, not all opioids are made the same, and overdoses can easily lead to death. High doses of the drug cause breathing to slow or stop and then leads to unconsciousness and death if not treated immediately.
Opioid drug overdose tops the list of causes of death for Americans under the age of 50. This is a serious problem in America today.
If you do not die from an opioid addiction, you will find your life forever changed by it. You will experience financial problems and potentially lose your home. You will lose your family, your children, your spouse, and your close connections. Your support system will quickly dissolve as you begin to do whatever you need to do to get the drugs that feed your addiction.
You will experience physical problems, such as neural deficits, constipation, nausea, vomiting, and gastrointestinal bleeding. You’ll experience cognitive impairment including drowsiness and lethargy as a result of the addition.
Opioids also greatly affect the respiratory system. When you overdose on an opioid, the high levels of the opioid will induce sleep. As you sleep, the carbon dioxide feedback loop keeps you breathing normally. However, the high level of opioid will block this loop. Individuals can literally suffocate because of this overdose.
Signs of an Overdose
An overdose occurs far too commonly. If you see someone experience these symptoms, contact help immediately.
Overdoses lead to slow, shallow breathing, and extreme sleepiness. An overdose victim will not be able to talk and will have blue skin color and dark-colored lips. You will hear snoring or gurgling sounds as that victim slowly begins to suffocate.
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