Recovering from Opioid Addiction

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Opioids are a class of narcotic, both legal prescription medications and illegal street drugs, that contain a substance (either natural or synthetic) that is derived from the poppy plant. Opioids are prescribed to help with pain maintenance and are excellent pain relievers but they have very strong addictive properties. If not managed properly, opioid use can quickly lead to dependency and addiction.


Why are opioids so addictive?

Opioids work in the body by helping to mask any feelings of pain and increase feelings of pleasure. Often these medications are prescribed after surgery or an accident when pain levels are very high. Because opioids are so good at covering up the pain it can be overwhelming when they are stopped and the pain returns. For this reason, many people continue taking the medication even as their pain naturally decreases, making it harder for them to cope without the drug. The longer that someone is prescribed an opioid and the higher the dose of the medication, the greater the risk for developing a dependency or addiction to the drug.

What are the most common opioids?

The most commonly prescribed opioids are:

  • Morphine
  • Hydrocodone
  • Percocet
  • Codeine
  • Fentanyl
  • Methadone

The most common illegal opioids are:

  • Heroin
  • Opium

Opioids and overdose

The risk of overdosing on an opioid is a very real and serious possibility. Thousands of people across the country die each year from opioid overdose, due to misuse of the drug. As tolerance levels increase, many feel the need to take more of the medication to feel it’s effects, however this can have dangerous consequences. Taking opioids with alcohol, street drugs or prescription sedatives can also lead to overdose and possibly death. Signs of an overdose include confusion, difficulty walking and talking, hallucinations, extreme drowsiness, dizziness, slowed breathing, cold and clammy skin, passing out or being unable to be woken up. If any of these symptoms occur it is imperative to seek medical help immediately.
Recovering from opioid addiction

Recovering from an opioid addiction can be a daunting and challenging task. Due to the fact that this type of drug has such strong addictive properties, recovery can be difficult and many people experience relapses before becoming completely and permanently drug-free.

When an opioid is stopped, there are many withdrawal symptoms that may occur, some of which can be very severe, including; increased pain or pain spread all over the body, nausea, vomiting and flu-like symptoms, mood swings and irritability and difficulty sleeping. One of the best and most successful methods for overcoming this type of addiction is an in-patient rehabilitation facility. These facilities offer a combination of medical intervention to assist with managing the physiological effects of the addiction and withdrawal symptoms along with case-specific counselling and psychological therapies. Use of these two methods offer a comprehensive approach to identify and treat each patient’s individual circumstances and can have a better long-term success rate with lower incidence of future relapse.

Recovering from an opioid addiction can be difficult but success is possible. The best course of action, however, is to avoid addiction in the first place. Avoid using street drugs and take only medications that have been prescribed for you. Make sure that all prescription drugs are taken exactly as ordered by your physician and if at any time you feel that you are becoming dependent on an opioid, speak to your doctor right away.

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