Opioid abuse is not just an American problem — it’s a global issue. Worldwide, millions of people struggle with opioid addiction, while U.S. soil hosts more than 2 million opioid abusers itself. According to statistics, more than 450,000 Americans have died from an opioid overdose in just over a decade.

But what is it about opioids that make them so addictive and so deadly? If you’re looking to understand opioid addiction a little better or want to know more about how to get opioid addiction help, this blog is for you.

What Exactly Are Opioids?

Opioids are a strong form of medication that is typically used to relieve pain. Essentially, opioids alter the brain’s chemical and signal response to pain. They are usually prescribed by a doctor for the relief of toothache, recovery from surgery, major injuries, and chronic conditions such as cancer.

Opioids are 100% safe to use if taken at the right dose and under strict guidelines by your doctor. However, the issue with these types of drugs is their addictive nature. The misuse of opioids could quickly lead to dependency and life-changing addiction. Common forms of opioid-based medications include:

  • Codeine
  • Tylenol
  • Demerol
  • Dilaudid
  • Fentanyl
  • Methadone
  • Morphine
  • Oxycodone

These medications are also manipulated and treated to create far more dangerous street drugs i.e. narcotics — the most common of which is heroin, which is made from morphine. Heroin is known as a ”one-hit-wonder” drug because of its extremely addictive nature.

Understanding Opioid Addiction 

After a certain period of misuse, your body and brain begins to become dependent on opioids. This is because the drug ”tricks” your brain and body into believing it is necessary for survival.

Addiction to opioids can happen relatively quickly — as your body begins to tolerate one dose, it looks for a higher dose in order to achieve the same ”high” or sense of well-being.

Signs of Opioid Addiction

One of the most obvious signs of any type of addiction is a change in behavior. For those with opioid addiction, some other signs may include:

  • Social withdrawal — avoiding time with family and friends
  • A loss of interest in personal hobbies or regular activities
  • Appearing very tired or depressed
  • A change in eating habits — typically eating far less than usual
  • A major change in energy — appearing overly energetic or hyped up
  • Nervous, jittery or cranky behavior
  • Unstable mood swings
  • A change in sleeping pattern — sleeping far longer than usual

Ultimately, it’s important to grasp that addiction is far more than just a physical condition. It takes hold of the brain and alters it both chemically and psychologically. This is why addiction is described as a disease, rather than a series of ”bad choices”.

Opioid Addiction Help: Treatment Options

Overcoming an opioid addiction is particularly challenging. Unlike trying to quite heavy alcohol or sedative abuse, cutting out opioids is quite risky and requires close monitoring and guidance, as well as medicated detoxification in some cases.

Before anyone attempts to withdraw from opioid use, they must consult a physician first for a thorough health check and to pindown any underlying health conditions. From here, a doctor will recommend the best detoxification and recovery program for opioid addiction.

Popular Treatment Options

There are a number of treatment options to choose from when recovering from opioid addiction. Some people choose to detox and recover on their own, but this requires an extremely strong and supportive network to help you through it. However, if your opioid addiction is severe, detoxing without medical support is not recommended.

The most effective treatment option for this type of addiction is an inpatient detox program, followed by inpatient rehabilitation. Most inpatient rehab centers offer specialized programs for opioid detox and recovery, including medicated and closely supervised detox facilities.

Inpatient rehab also offers counseling and group therapy sessions to help addicts come to terms with what caused their addiction. These programs also teach recovering addicts how to avoid triggers and integrate themselves back into ”normal” day-to-day life.

The Reality of Opioid Withdrawal

Just like recovery from all types of substance abuse, there is a period of withdrawal. Opioid withdrawal is particularly severe. It can even be life-threatening in certain cases if a person suffers from an underlying health condition, such as heart disease.

Some of the most common withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Muscle and bone pain
  • Insomnia
  • Hot and cold flashes accompanied by intense sweating
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Diarrhea and vomiting
  • Intense anxiety and irritability
  • Tremors

Trying to quit ”cold turkey” is often not recommended for opioid addiction. This is because some people are at higher risk due to underlying conditions, and the high possibility of relapse. One of the safest ways to alleviate opioid withdrawal is with medically supervised treatment. This treatment includes approved medicines to provide a certain sense of relief from withdrawal symptoms, which include:

  • Methadone
  • Buprenorphine also known as Suboxone
  • Naltrexone
  • Naloxone — this is often used to reverse life-threatening instances of opioid overdose

These medications can be used as a long-term maintenance plan to avoid opioid relapse, under strict supervision.

How to Help Yourself or a Loved One 

If you or a loved one is ready to accept help in the form of addiction treatment, then the first step is to visit a physician. They will do a thorough investigation of your health, then refer you to the best treatment program, based on your health results.

Most doctors are well-versed in the intricacies of addiction and should be able to refer you to the best addiction center in your region. If you are supporting a loved one or friend through addiction recovery, here’s some advice:

  • Assure them that they are loved and you support their journey to recovery
  • Remind them that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to recovery, it may take several attempts
  • Let them know you’ll be for them every step of the way as a positive influence in their life

If a loved one is resistant to recovery, don’t stage a confrontational intervention. Instead, try to convince them to visit with a physician first, then go from there.

Brush Up on Your Understanding of Addiction Here

In order to help a loved one or yourself through addiction recovery, it’s important to understand opioid addiction, first. Learn everything you need to know about addiction, different substances, treatment options, what to expect during recovery with Addiction Answers.

If you’re looking for opioid addiction help, call us now on (877) 555-6050 and get your life back on track!

Get Help Today

Don’t go through the process of recovery alone. There are people who can help you with the struggle you’re facing. Get in touch with one today.