In the United States, opioid use disorder has taken almost a million lives since 1999. For each of those lives lost, countless others suffer through opioid addiction and dependence.
Opioids can be both legal and illicit, and it is not only possible but common to develop an addiction to opioids even when taking them as prescribed. They are typically given as analgesics prescribed by doctors to help patients deal with pain, such as post-surgery or for chronic pain issues.
Opioids include prescription drugs such as:
- Hydrocodone with or without acetaminophen (Vicodin, Lorcet, Lortab, Norco ER, Hysingla)
- Fentanyl (Actiqu, Abstral, Fentora, Duragesic)
- Meperidine (Demerol)
- Morphine (Kadian, MS Contin, Morphabond)
- Oxycodone with or without acetaminophen or naloxone (Oxaydo, OxyContin, Pecocet, Roxicet)
- Oliceridine (Olynvik)
Opioids work by binding to opioid receptors, located in the spinal cord and brain, as well as other areas in the body. When they do this, they send the signal to your brain that you are not in pain.
Opioid dependence and opioid addiction are not the same thing, though dependence can often lead to addiction. Dependence occurs when someone develops a tolerance to the opioid, thereby needing to take more and more to achieve the same effect, as well as experiencing withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, anxiety, irritability, muscle pain, and stomach upset upon stopping or decreasing use.
Addiction to opioids occurs when someone continues to use the drug despite negative consequences. Some of the other signs of opioid use disorder that may require treatment include the following:
- Mood swings and irritability
- Physical agitation
- Lack of motivation and interest in activities/people not associated with use
- Shallow or slow breathing Inability to stop or decrease using opioids
- Feelings of shame or secrecy surrounding the use of opioids
- Strained or lost relationships due to use, yet the user continues to use anyway
- Cravings to use opioids
- Using opioids in situations where it is physically hazardous, such as driving
If you or a loved one’s use meets this criterion in the past 12 months, then you may be suffering from opioids use disorder requiring treatment. Call our opioid recovery center to schedule an assessment or to learn more about the holistic treatment of opioid use disorder.