Addiction Treatment: What Are Opiates? Are They All Addictive?

Ambien Abuse and AddictionAs you probably know, there is an opiate epidemic going on across the nation.  It’s not just the lower income level populations either. It’s the lower, middle, and upper levels of income segments, with people in the poorest sections and the richest sections struggling with an addiction to opiates.

Just browse some of the more popular television shows these days and you’ll find some good documentaries on the opiate epidemic.  People are dying every day due to overdose, and this has the attention of the legal authorities, substance abuse professionals, addiction treatment centers, healthcare providers, and the general population.

What are opiates?

Opiates are drugs that are usually used for relieving pain. This group of drugs is derived from opium, which comes from the poppy plant. Sure, oftentimes people need pain medication when they get through a surgery, or they have a chronic pain condition, but what many don’t realize is that opiates are extremely addictive. It doesn’t matter what you’re education level is, your career, your amount of willpower, and so on; the reality is that the brain can easily get hooked on opiates such as pain pills.

There are legal and illegal types of opiates drugs and all of them can be addictive. Heroin is the most common illegal opiate out there. Some of the most common legally prescribed types of opiates include:

  • Codeine
  • Morphine
  • Hydrocodone
  • Suboxone
  • Methadone
  • Vicodin
  • Demerol
  • Lorcet
  • Oxycontin
  • Naloxone

How opiates help reduce pain and tie into drug addiction

Opiates help in reducing pain as they bind to the natural opioid receptors found in the brain and act as specific chemicals that are similar to sensations of pain relief. If used as directed by a physician, opiates are quite good at reducing pain. Keep in mind that these drugs are intended to be used for short periods to relieve pain, as they can be quite addictive.

Opiate addiction

When one takes an opiate, whether it’s legal or illegal, they experience a sense of peace and euphoria.  Since the feelings are pleasurable, users desire to take more opiates so they can keep feeling the same.  There are specific chemicals in the brain responsible for a feeling of pleasure when opiate drugs are taken. When these neurotransmitters are hit with the opiates, pain is reduced or eliminated and pleasurable feelings occur, making it easy to keep taking opiates. The problem with the continued use of opiates is that regular use of them can lead to addiction. Essentially, you can become addicted to the prescription pain pills your doctor prescribes for you and you can become addicted to street drug opiates like heroin. All opiates are addictive.

Why drug addiction occurs

Why is it that some people become addicted to opiates and others don’t? There are various reasons and circumstances, but there are several factors that cause one person to be more prone to addiction over another.

  • Genetic factors-research has shown that when a person has a close relative with an addiction, he or she is more likely to become an addict than people who have never had such a family history.
  • Coping factors-individuals who have difficulty in coping with negative feelings such as anger, depression, life circumstances, pain, etc., are more apt to turn to opiates for relief and a sense of euphoria. The pleasant effect that eliminates the negative mood can easily lead to addiction.Opiate Abuse Signs

Signs and symptoms of opiate abuse

  • Taking more opiates than prescribed
  • Lack of motivation
  • Depression
  • Purchasing opiates illegally
  • Drugs used for longer periods than intended
  • Inability to reduce the number of drugs taken
  • Spending a lot of time to recover from the drugs
  • Need more opiates to get the same effect
  • Doctor shopping to get more opiates
  • Lower levels of appetite
  • Difficulty in sleeping

Are all opiate drugs addictive?

All the opiate drugs have a similar feature, which is depressing the central nervous system of the body and essentially giving a peaceful and euphoric feeling. These certainly make all opiates risky for addiction, as the effects on the brain and the mind can make it tough to resist wanting to take more.

Addiction Treatment

Regardless of how you’ve become addicted to opiates or pain pills, there is addiction treatment available. Many people find it challenging to admit that they indeed have an addiction to an opiate. Know right now that you do not have to feel ashamed if you’ve become addicted. There are many people from every part of a nation that have inadvertently become addicted to an opiate. If you continue to keep this to yourself, you may find yourself struggling over and over to stay clean.

Various paths to addiction treatment

There are various to recovery, including inpatient and outpatient addiction treatment centers. If you are able to pack up and leave your home for about a month, you may want to consider attending an inpatient treatment center. There you will be surrounded by substance abuse professionals who will be able to monitor you around the clock. The medical staff may even be able to give you some medication to help reduce the likelihood of daunting withdrawal effects.

You’ll be able to meet others who are trying to beat addiction too. You may be introduced to 12-step groups such as Narcotics Anonymous or SMART recovery. These are support groups that you may want to consider attending once you get back home. There you will be able to get a sponsor or mentor and work through some steps that will help you learn how to cope with life without drinking or drugging.

Working through the 12 steps can help uncover negative emotions that perhaps you have been avoiding, and working through them. In the end, you’ll feel more peaceful and joyful, and you’ll feel less likely like taking a drink or a substance to try to find relief from emotional pain.

Outpatient treatment

If you are not able to attend an inpatient addiction treatment facility, you have the option of attending an outpatient addiction treatment facility. Many cities across the nation have such options for those recovering from substance abuse. You’ll be able to meet with an alcohol or addiction specialist for an assessment. You’ll be able to agree on a certain amount of meetings per week and while you’re at the treatment center, you’ll be able to learn about the disease of alcoholism and addiction. You’ll also be able to talk with a counselor about issues you may be experiencing and you’ll be able to create a relapse prevention plan, which will be helpful for when you’re faced with triggers and cravings.

If you’re struggling with an addiction to opiates or any other addiction, know that there is help in the form of addiction treatment centers and substance abuse professionals. You do not have to walk the recovery path alone. If you’ve been relapsing over and over, perhaps it is time to admit that you need some additional help. It may be challenging for a while, but the effort will be well worth it because, on the other side of addiction, there is a wonderful life waiting for you.

If your loved one is the one struggling with an addiction to an opiate or other drugs, know that you are not alone in your endeavor to help him or her.  Sit down and have a real heart to heart with him and share your concern from a place of non-judgment.  Let him know that you don’t want anything bad to happen to him and that you would like for him to really think about his habits.

If he becomes defensive, know that this sometimes happens. Some addicts have a tough time realizing that they are addicted to something. They may not quite be ready to reach out for help or hear the truth.  If this is the case, it may be challenging for you because you worry.  You don’t want anything bad to happen to your loved one.

If you find it challenging to deal with your emotions concerning this situation, know that there are support groups for loved ones of addicts, such as Nar-Anon. There you will be able to meet with others who have loved ones struggling with addiction. You’ll be able to learn things like self-care, setting and keeping boundaries, and ways to not worry so much about the addict’s behavior.

Nar-Anon teaches that you didn’t cause the addiction, and you can’t cure it.  What you can do is learn to take care of yourself and let your loved one take care of himself.  This may sound daunting, but over time, you’ll learn many valuable lessons about yourself, others, and life in general.

Addiction is a disease that can disrupt an entire family. Whether you’re the addict or the loved one of an addict, know that you don’t have to shoulder this alone. It will require courage to reach out for help, but you’ve got that courage deep down. Pull it up and take that step of faith as you make that call or reach out to that specialist for help.

As always, we are here to answer your questions. Please give us a call and we will do our best to help you or your loved one get on the recovery path that is the best path for you. There is a great life on the other side of addiction, so take your first step today.