Today, opiate addiction is an out of control epidemic in America. Opiates refer to a group of drugs that are used to treat pain. They are usually derived from opium from the poppy plant. Opiates are usually legitimately used to treat pain. They produce a sense of well being, euphoria, which can be very addictive to some people. They change the way the brain responds to pain. They disrupt the pleasure center of the brain causing a high feeling. When used to relieve pain, some patients develop a tolerance. They therefore need more of the drug to get the same effect. This for some people goes on and becomes an addiction.
Opioid Abuse – aka Opiate Addiction
Prescription drug abuse is the biggest addiction problem in the U.S. today. The medications are surprisingly easy to obtain. There are a number of factors that have contributes to how sever the prescription drug abuse is in the country. They are;
- Increase in the number of prescriptions dispensed and written
- Greater acceptability by the society of using medications for different purposes
- Aggressive marketing by the pharmaceutical companies
Studies show that prescription opiate abusers are more likely to develop heroin addiction that those who do not abuse opiates. This is because heroin offers the same high but at a cheaper price.
Signs and Symptoms of An Opiate Addiction
The major indicator of an addiction is the continued use of a substance even when it has negative repercussions. An addict will start doctor shopping which is getting multiple prescriptions from various doctors. They will start to suddenly experience financial difficulties and extra pill bottles will start turning up in the trash.
There are a number of physical signs that you should look out for if you suspect that a person has an opiate addiction. They include;
- Noticeable euphoria
- Marked drowsiness or sedation
- Constricted pupils
- Slowed breathing
- Loss of consciousness
- Dramatically changing moods
- Social isolation
Many people focus on the short term effects of opiate abuse and they often overlook for long term effects. Long term effects of opiate abuse include;
- Weakened Functioning of the Immune System
- Gastric problem that ranges from constipation and severe intestinal ileus and bowel perforation
- A plethora of medical issues that are secondary to the intravenous administration such as; systematic infection, contracting blood borne illnesses, localized abscesses and embolic events.
- Significant respiratory depression
Withdrawal From Opiate Addiction
Opiate withdrawal can be quite uncomfortable and successful treatment should include supervised detox to maximize comfort and also ensure safety during the withdrawal process. Withdrawal is not fatal but supervision is requires so as to minimize the risk of relapse. The severity of the withdrawal symptoms depends on the level of dependency. Dependency is directly tied to the duration of abuse, the dosage amount, how the drug was taken and other underlying medical conditions.
Early Withdrawal Symptoms of Opiate Addiction
- They usually start in 6- 12 hours after the last dose for short acting opiates or in 30 hours of long acting opiates. They include;
- Muscle aches
- Trouble sleeping
- Excessive yawning
- Anxiety running nose
- Racing heart
- Fever and hypertension
Late Withdrawal Symptoms of Opiate Addiction
They usually peak after 72 hours and last a week. They include;
- Nausea and vomiting
- Drug craving
- Stomach cramps
Some psychological withdrawal symptoms and cravings may continue for weeks. To decrease the symptoms and side effects of withdrawal, the mental health professionals provide therapy and psychological support the patient needs.
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