Opioid use can easily lead to addiction, even if only used for a short period of time. Opiate abuse is a considerable problem in America, with thousands of people attending opiate rehab centers every year. This is mainly because of the way addiction to the substance develops that often makes it difficult to detect. The most alarming aspect of this epidemic is that anyone is at risk of developing opiate addiction, regardless of personal circumstances or history.
Although the length of time a person uses opiates has a bearing on the risk of developing an addiction, it is impossible to predict who is vulnerable or predisposed to. Whether taken in the prescribed form or used as an illegal substance like heroin, opiates are now the leading cause of drug-related deaths in the US.
Opiate addiction is a chronic condition that doesn’t develop overnight and there are now numerous ways of treating it in opiate rehab centers. Due to the potency of opiates, dependence can develop very rapidly in some cases. The illness is characterized by an overwhelming compulsion to use substances that is driven by the body’s dependence. One of the main warning signs a person has is developing an addiction is that they will continue to abuse opiates despite the devastating consequences on their lives.
Opiates work by triggering the release of endorphins, which are the brain’s “feel-good” neurotransmitters. Endorphins block pain sensations by boosting feelings of euphoria which creates a temporary state of wellbeing. One of the main difficulties with opiate use is that when the drug wears off, it is not long before the body craves a repeat performance of the euphoric sensations – this is generally the first step towards a negative cycle of addictive behavior.
Short-Term Versus Long-Term Effects
When a person takes opiates over a period of time, the body progressively slows its production of endorphins. This essentially means that the same dose will have less potency and it will take a bigger amount of the substance to achieve the desired effects. This is known as tolerance. One of the main reasons opiate addiction has become so common is because once tolerance develops, it isn’t long before the addictive compulsion to use follows.
Doctors are acutely aware of the risks of opiate use and they are often unwilling to increase a patient’s dose. For people with chronic pain conditions, this can lead to them seeking alternative routes to obtaining a prescription. Using others to get prescription painkillers or “doctor shopping” are commonly attempted by people who have been denied an increased dose of prescription opiates. When these methods start to fail, the only alternative left to them is heroin or other street opiates, which are much cheaper and more widely available than prescription painkillers.
Although dependence on opiates can be quick to develop, opiate rehab can effectively address an individual’s problems before they have become too serious. If a person is prescribed opiates for a chronic pain condition and has been taking them for some time, it is advisable for them to consider attending opiate rehab in order to find other ways of managing pain. The earlier a person enters opiate rehab, the sooner they can be in recovery.
Opioid Addiction Risk Factors
Opiates become most addictive when they are taken using different methods than those prescribed. It is not unusual for people to start crushing their pills so they can be snorted or injected which makes them take effect in a much more powerful way. However, this practice is life-threatening and even more dangerous if the opiate medications are long or extended-acting formulae. The risk of fatal overdose is increased significantly when opiates are abused in this manner.
Other known risk factors of opioid misuse and addiction include:
- Personal or family history of substance abuse and addiction
- Age of the individual
- History of legal problems relating to substance abuse such as DUIs
- Risk-taking behavior
- Regular contact with people or places where substance abuse is acceptable
- The presence of a mental health condition such as anxiety or depression
- Stressful circumstances or situations
Steps To Prevent Opioid Addiction
For most people, prescription opiates are safest when they are used for no more than a few days to manage acute pain. Chronic pain conditions last for longer which places people at high risk of developing tolerance and ultimately opiate addiction. When someone is suffering from long-term pain, the safest approach is to find other ways to manage their symptoms that do not involve highly potent chemicals such as opiates.
Many opiate rehab centers today offer completely natural and holistic methods of pain management that can benefit someone who has become reliant on opiates in whatever form to ease their symptoms. In terms of avoiding opioid use altogether, there are alternative medications available for chronic pain conditions which can offer effective relief. For individuals facing having to manage pain for a prolonged period of time, the best way of preventing opioid addiction is to avoid taking them regularly.