What Opioids Do that Make People Want to Abuse Them
If you’ve never taken them, you might wonder what opioids do to make people want to abuse them. If you have taken them, and even just taken them legitimately, it’s often easy to understand what makes a person want to take them illicitly. For many people who are taking opioids to fight pain, the other effects aren’t easily overlooked. Things, like feeling pleasantly drowsy, and feeling no pain at all, can be pretty alluring. When you add these effects to the way that many opioids leave you feeling like you don’t have a care in the world, and it’s not so hard to see why so many people begin taking them for reasons other than pain control.
So, if you’ve taken them, you know that even when taken as directed, prescription painkillers can have a significant effect on the way you feel. Not only are they extremely effective at fighting pain, they also have a way of making many people feel pretty good. If you haven’t ever taken them, then you’re lucky that you’ve never experienced something that causes enough pain to warrant your doctor prescribing you pain meds.
How do Opioids Work?
When taken to treat pain, opioids bind to the opioid receptors in the body. We all naturally make some opioids, which bind to these receptors. They help women to make it through childbirth and can give us the ability to fight through pain in extreme situations. Opioids also make us feel good. When the body makes its own opioids, we feel pretty good. It’s our brain’s way of giving our body a reward for working hard, eating something that makes us feel good, and even having sex.
When opioid pain medications are taken, however, they can actually work to block the nerves that send pain signals. They are still binding to the opioid receptors in the body, but the prescription pain medications are a much more intense burst of opioid than our bodies can produce. In this way, they are effective, because the body doesn’t heal very effectively when it’s feeling the stress of pain. So, opioids are a good way to help people begin to heal in accident, injury, or post-operative situations.
When taken as directed, and for as short an amount of time as possible, prescription pain medications can be highly effective at doing their job. They post very little risks when used short-term, which is promising in those who have problems with other types of pain medications or have intense pain that needs immediate relief.
What Opioids Do When Taken Illicitly
When taken illicitly, opioids have the potential to stop the pain, but they can also leave a person feeling high. In other words, euphoric feelings are normal. Sleepiness and a feeling of disconnection are common. Many people choose to abuse opioids because they say that being high off them is a lot like floating in a warm cloud. It’s peaceful, and stress tends to fall by the wayside.
While they do leave a person feeling disconnected, they can ease anxiety and stress. Often, when people take these medications, they experience extreme sleepiness and might doze off. People who take opioids illicitly often do so because they have trouble coping with stressful situations in their lives.
These medications also slow the bodily functions, so breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure all go down. These effects leave a person feeling “comfortably numb,” and extremely relaxed.
In fact, some people start taking opioids illicitly because they struggle with pain that is not well controlled, or has not been addressed and is not being treated. This is because opioids still eliminate pain, even when taken without a prescription.
Why do People Start Abusing Opioids?
Now, if you’re still not sure why people start abusing opioids, you’ve probably never had a reason to take them. Often, the abuse can begin when a person is prescribed them to help cope with legitimate pain. The intentions start innocently enough, the desire to ease the pain is the only thing that matters.
As a person continues taking these drugs, they can often develop a tolerance to them. Which means that when pain continues for any amount of time, the dosage of the medication might need to be adjusted to continue to be effective in treating pain.
Some people who take opioids really enjoy the effects of them, so even though their reasoning for taking the medication might be legitimate, the reason they keep taking them might not be. In fact, this is part of the reason why so many people continue using opioids after they don’t need them anymore.
Other people start using opioids because they are looking for a different high. They might be casual pot smokers who go to a party and have an opportunity to try a pain pill. Or, they might take benzos recreationally and find that they like the way that opioids make them feel.
Another group that struggles significantly with opioid abuse is older people. Many of them are given these medications to treat situations that cause long-term pain, such as back or arthritis pain. When they develop a tolerance, they start to take more of these drugs. Over time, they find that they like the way they feel when they take more of them than directed.
When Opioid Abuse Turns Into Addiction
For many who abuse opioids, the situation doesn’t turn into an addiction in a noticeable way. Some who are prescribed these medications and take them for a long time notice that if they try to stop taking them, they experience withdrawal symptoms. They might also find that they worry about having to live without them. Their feelings of sadness and despair over not being able to continue taking opioids are often a defining aspect of a true opioid addiction.
For lots of people that find themselves addicted to opioids, it’s not something that happens suddenly. Addiction of any kind tends to be more of a slow build. It starts out small, and over time, becomes progressively worse. That’s why people who have been abusing substances for years find that they have much more serious addictions than those who have only been continuously using for a shorter period of time.
There are some signs that an addiction is developing, though. Anyone who is taking opioids should keep an eye out for them, especially if you find that a tolerance has developed:
- Taking more of your medication than prescribed.
- Taking opioids without a prescription at all.
- Taking opioids even when no pain is present.
- Taking opioids to get high, or because they feel good.
- Thinking about taking opioids even when you’ve already taken a dose.
- Worrying about not having enough opioids.
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when opioids are not taken.
While these are not the only indications that an addiction is developing, they are some pretty solid signs to look out for. If you notice that you or a loved one is experiencing these symptoms, you might want to consider the possibility that you’re developing an addiction to opioids and talk to your doctor about quitting taking them if you are prescribed them.
If you’re not prescribed opioids, but find that you’re starting to get addicted to them, there are some things you can do to overcome your addiction and make detoxing easier at the same time.
When It’s Time to Overcome Your Opioid Addiction
When you find that you have an addiction to prescription pain pills, you already know what opioids do. You might have even gone from prescription pills to other types of opioids. Now you probably even know that overcoming your addiction is going to be a challenge.
What you might not know is that many new developments in addiction treatment are making it easier than ever to start living a clean and sober life, and when you’re really committed to recovery from your addiction, you’ll probably find that addiction treatment of today is even better than you imagined it could be.
At Elite Rehab Placement, we understand what opioid addiction is like. We all know what opioids do to make us feel so good, and we get why addictions to painkillers can happen. We also know that in order to feel really good about living clean from these substances, you need to find a treatment program that makes you feel great about recovery.
We can help you to find the right treatment program for your needs so you can go from worrying that you’re never going to make it living addiction free, to experience a successful, happy recovery journey that you can really embrace.
Best of all for you is the way there is no cost and no obligation. So you’re enjoying peace of mind that you’re finding addiction treatment that is well-matched to your needs, but you’re also going to find that our insurance specialists are amazing at helping you get the treatment you need while helping you to use all of your health insurance benefits and make getting help truly affordable.
If you know what opioids do, and you’re one of the millions out there that have been sucked into their effects, it’s time to stop the cycle and get off them. We can help you take the first steps to living a healthy, recovering lifestyle. So, why not give us a call today to find out more? You’ll be glad you did.