Opioid Addiction

Causing a steady rise in overdose deaths and the sole reason for the development of the opioid epidemic here in America, opiates and opioids are among the most dangerous drugs on this planet. Whether bought illegally or from a pharmacy, opioids, and opiates have some of the most powerful influences on the brain which can result in addiction with only first-time use. But, fortunately, for those who wish to rid their lives of addiction, opiate and opioid addiction treatment are effective in obtaining long-term recovery.

The Difference Between Opiates and Opioids

There is common confusion about the difference between opioids and opiates. But, there is indeed a difference between the two. Essentially, the biggest difference between these two classes of drugs is how they’re made. On one hand, opiates are all derived straight from the sap of the poppy plant. These are mostly illegal street drugs including opium and heroin. Opioids, on the other hand, are all derived synthetically in a lab. While these drugs are man-made, they are developed to chemically resemble the makeup of opioids. These drugs are your prescription narcotics given to relieve pain in medical settings. Some opioids commonly prescribed include:

  • Codeine
  • Fentanyl
  • Hydrocodone
  • Hydromorphone
  • Meperidine
  • Methadone
  • Morphine
  • Oxycodone

How Opiate and Opioid Addiction Develop

Opiate and opioids stimulate receptors in the brain which, when stimulated, release naturally produced “feel good” chemicals (dopamine) throughout the bloodstream. When these chemicals are released, the user experiences euphoric side effects. But, with long-term use, eventually, dopamine receptors only release these chemicals when opioids or opiates are present in the body. This is known as drug dependency. Once dependency forms, a long-term user of opioids or opiates will have a compromised reward system.

The Compromised Reward System of Those Addicted to Opiates and Opioids

Dopamine and other naturally produced chemicals that are released when an individual utilizes opioids or opiates are usually released for different reasons. As humans, we react positively to positive reinforcement. And, that’s just what dopamine provides. So, when we eat, have intercourse, drink water, and nurture our children, dopamine is released so that we are positively rewarded for these behaviors. This way, we’re motivated to continue these behaviors. On the contrary, an individual dependent on opioids or opiates has a compromised behavior reward system. This means they aren’t positively rewarded by a surge of dopamine when performing daily activities, but only when the drug of choice is used.

Symptoms of Addiction to Opioids and Opiates

Since dopamine is only released when drugs are used for an addicted individual, normally motivated behaviors no longer hold high priorities. This is why many addicted individuals become malnourished, suffer from broken relationships, and begin to withdraw from social circles. Along with the behavior reward system side effects that an addicted individual may face, other physical and emotional consequences may occur as a result of opioid or opiate addiction like:

  • Mood disorders like anxiety and depression
  • Chronic constipation
  • Brain damage
  • Respiratory depression
  • Liver damage
  • Weakened immune system
  • Heart disease
  • Seizure
  • Death by overdose

Detoxing from Opioids and Opiates and Experiencing Withdrawal

While it’s possible to recover from an opiate or opioid addiction, it cannot be done with going through the detox process first. This means removing the drug from the system. And, it’s done by simply waiting until the drug is no longer present throughout the body. But, since an addicted body is dependent on the substance it’s addicted to, without the administration of the drug, individuals experience withdrawal symptoms during detox. Unfortunately, these symptoms are not pleasant. But, fortunately, they are not life-threatening and do not last forever. Withdrawal symptoms individuals addicted to opiates or opioids will likely face may include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Anxiety
  • Stomach pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Chill sweats
  • Increased heart rate

Opiate and Opioid Addiction Treatment

Because withdrawal symptoms can be agitating, it’s suggested that individuals get professional help with a medical detox plan. After medical detox, individuals can benefit from a number of different opiate and opioid addiction treatment methods and therapies including individualized counseling, holistic therapy, and family counseling. Find out what opiate or opioid addiction treatment works best for you at Asheville Recovery Center and gain the freedom from opiate or opioid addiction for your own life!