Opiate addiction is no longer mostly caused by illegal drugs like heroin, but in legal pain killers prescribed to teenagers and adults alike by physicians. Here is some more information about this important crisis and how to get help.
What Opiates Are
Opiates are derived from an opium poppy plant, and doctors have been prescribing forms of opium for decades for everything from coughs to bowel relief.
Some modern forms of opiates are morphine, codeine, oxycodone, hydrocodone, methadone, fentanyl, meperidine, opium, and heroin. The difference between opioids and opiates is that opioids are synthetic and opiates are naturally derived. They are equally as addictive, and the two terms are used interchangeably.
What Opiate Addiction Is
Opiate addiction is now the leading cause of drug overdose in the United States. In 2015 it was estimated that 20,101 deaths were the result of overdose from prescription painkillers, which was nearly twice as high as the number of deaths due to heroin overdose.
Opiates are extremely addictive because they stimulate the pleasure and reward centers in the brain. The high produced is so much more intense than what the body produces on its own, that the only way to sustain it is to use the drugs. After continued use the brain will stop making dopamine and endorphins and the only way to experience feeling pleasure again is to take drugs. The stages in opiate addiction are:
- Tolerance – the user must use larger doses to experience the same high
- Physical Dependence – the body will experience withdrawal if the user stops taking the drugs
- Psychological Dependence – the user begins craving opiates
Most addictions begin by the user being prescribed an opiate pain killer from a doctor for an injury or surgery. This leads to the patient believing or claiming that they are still in pain to receive further prescriptions, or to visit multiple doctors to receive more prescriptions for opiates.
How to Get Help
Talk with your doctor about alternative pain reliving methods. Be aware when opiate addiction symptoms occur and get help immediately, and to say it again, get help immediately. Most opiate addicts find that they cannot afford the expensive prescription drugs and will use heroin to facilitate their addiction. It is far more effective to begin opiate detox in Orange County at the first hint of a symptom than to take the risk.
Be sure that the facility you choose is qualified and has experience dealing with opiate detox in Orange County. Treating an opiate addiction is very different from treating an alcohol or any other type of addiction, so make sure your program providers have the experience needed to help you or your loved one back to health.