Opioid Addiction is a life-threating condition that can negatively affect the health and emotional well-being of the person who suffers, as well as the lives of those who love him or her.
Drugs classified as opioids such as Vicodin and OxyContin are found in both prescription and illegal forms and can be used for either medical or illicit recreational purposes. In either case, opioids are painkilling narcotics with a high potential for abuse and dependence.
What is Opioid Addiction?
All opioids, regardless of form or potency, cause central nervous system (CNS) depression. As such, they reduce neurological action in the body and induce pleasant effects such as feelings of relaxation and euphoria. The misuse and abuse of opioids, however, can and often does result in life-threating effects such as excessive sedation, respiratory distress, coma, and death.
Opioids are chemically addictive because once administered they impact neurotransmitters in the brain such as serotonin and dopamine. These “feel good” chemicals are also associated with reward-seeking, which induces drug cravings, a means the body uses as an attempt to receive more rewarding effects.
Opioid Dependence and Tolerance
After a prolonged period, opioid use can result in dependence, a state in which the user’s system becomes incapable of normal function without the drug’s presence. As the body attempts to restore balance, it endures a great deal of stress, and this strain produces highly unpleasant and frequently painful withdrawal symptoms.
When a person’s body is no longer responding to a drug, as usual, this is an indication that the corresponding opioid receptors in the brain have become desensitized to it. The user then little choice but to use more opioids more frequently if he or she is to continue experiencing the sought-after effects. This condition is known as tolerance.
As these users steadily increase drug use, they also continue to heighten the risk of serious complications such as respiratory distress, overdose, and death.
Getting Help for Opioid Addiction
There is currently no cure for opioid addiction, but persons who choose to undergo treatment can recover and experience long-term abstinence and wellness.
If you or a loved one is struggling with opioid addiction is it never too late get help.