Opiate Addiction 

OPIATE ADDICTIONS

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About Opiate Addiction

Opiate addictions are overwhelming current medical safeguards and drug treatment facilities in the United States. One of the major contributing factors to the exploding number of opiate addictions is the ease by which most individuals are able to obtain a prescription. In fact, opiate prescriptions make up the majority of all prescriptions dispensed and refilled in the United States. Some of the common opiate addictions from prescriptions are hydrocodone, fentanyl, hydromorphone, tramadol, codeine, and morphine. The most common illicit opiate addiction is heroin.

Opiates are derived from the opium poppy, which is a flowering plant grown all over the world. Opiate pain relievers are usually safe if taken exactly as prescribed, and only for short-term pain treatment. It has been shown that even regular opiate use can lead to opiate dependence and opiate addiction. Opiate dependence is when regular use has caused basic changes in brain chemistry, causing users to experience unpleasant side effects when missing even a single dose. One can be dependent on opiates without being a full-blown addict, but the line between the two can be very fine. Opiate addictions manifest as a disease. The disease of addiction is defined by the bodies inability to maintain basic functions without using opiates. This will cause marked changes in behavior, physical health, and even trouble with the law.

With an opiate addition, the disease is never considered ‘cured’. The potential for relapse will remain with the recovering addict for the rest of their lives. The true victory comes with ongoing treatment. Freedom from addiction is something worth fighting for, and we encourage our clients to join support groups such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and SMART Recovery as these will provide invaluable resources when returning to life at home.

Getting help when you need it is important, especially for recovering Oxycodone addicts. Counselors and therapists should remain a constant, even as you begin to feel you have gained ground. Keep your safety net involved in your daily life, and lean on others who can help you continue your opiate recovery process

Common Opiate Addictions

The list below includes opioids most often abused in order of their potency. You will notice that all of them are prescription medications used by medical professionals to treat short-term and chronic pain patients. Opiates can be natural, synthetic or semi-synthetic.

Oxycodone

Oxycodone is a semi-synthetic narcotic that is derived from the poppy plant. Oxycodone is used to treat severe pain and is often prescribed for individuals struggling with chronic pain issues. Taken most often as a pill, oxycodone is available in extended-release tablets that allow dosing to be spaced as much as 12 hours. Oxycodone has unfortunately earned the reputation of being the most misused prescription opiates and causes many individuals to seek urgent care following an overdose. Oxycodone is sold under the brand names OxyContin, OxyNorm, OxyFast, Oxycocet, Percocet, Percodan, Endodan, Roxiprin, and Troxyca.

Common oxycodone withdrawal symptoms:

  • Anxiety, Restlessness, and Irritability
  • Sweating and increased respirations
  • Dilated pupils
  • Nausea, vomiting and stomach cramps
  • Muscle spasms and muscle pain
  • Bone pain

Morphine

Morphine, like all naturally occurring opiates, works within the central nervous system to block the feeling of severe and chronic pain. Morphine can be taken orally, injected directly into the bloodstream, or given as a shot. When morphine is given intravenously, it’s maximum effects are felt within about 20 minutes, and when given orally, 60 minutes. The length of pain relief is often between 4-6 hours. Morphine addiction can cause digestion to slow dramatically, and as a result, will likely cause constipation in those using. Morphine is sold by several pharmaceutical companies under different brand names. Some of these names are MS Contin, Oramorph, Avinza, and Kadian.

Common morphine withdrawal symptoms:

  • Tearing eyes and runny nose
  • Muscle aches and backache
  • Irritability and trouble sleeping
  • Restlessness and rapid heart rate
  • Digestive issues, vomiting, and cramps

Hydrocodone

Hydrocodone is a semi-synthetic opioid that comes from codeine and is usually dispensed in liquid form. Much like morphine, hydrocodone’s primary use is to control moderate to severe pain. Hydrocodone can be taken by mouth in capsule or liquid form, and can also be taken intravenously. The maximum effects of the drug are felt about 20 minutes and can last up to 8 hours. Hydrocodone is sold under many brand names in different formulations, often combined with Tylenol, Ibuprofen, or Aspirin. Some brand names for hydrocodone are Vicodin, Norco, Lortab, Lorcet, Vicoprofen, Ibudone, Reprexain, Lortab ASA, and Zydone.

Common hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms:

  • Cold sweats with goosebumps
  • Excessive sneezing and yawning
  • Mood swings and changes
  • Bone and muscle pain
  • Insomnia
  • Intestinal upset

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Symptoms of Opioid Addiction

Opioids work by slowing down the nervous system’s ability to relay messages to organs, including the brain. Used over time, this causes the nervous system to rewire itself, which permanently alters the brain and the body’s ability to correctly regulate emotions, impulsivity, and cognition.

Because of this altering of neuron function, addicts are extremely vulnerable to relapse and overdose, even after completing inpatient opiate addiction rehab. Opiates alter brain chemistry differently than other addictive drugs, and because the changes are often lifelong, recovery for addicts can be a daily battle requiring vigilance and dedication.

  • Extreme mood swings
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Infections
  • Slowed breathing and heart rates
  • Dry mouth
  • Kidney problems
  • Hepatitis
  • Nausea and nomiting
  • Memory and cognitive changes
  • Increased pain
  • Seizures and temperature Fluctuations

The cycle of drug seeking causes many addicts to compromise relationships, financial security, employment, and overall health and wellness. It is not uncommon for formerly compliant members of the community to resort to law breaking to gain access to their next drug fix. Because the withdrawal from opiates is extremely painful and difficult, users will resort to almost any means when seeking their next high.

Detoxification from Opiate Addiction

Drug addiction treatment for opiate dependence has become one of Orange County rehab centers main detoxification services. Because of the highly addictive nature of opiates, over 20 million Americans struggle with addiction and abuse. This figure also includes heroin addicts, and this number continues to grow each year.

Withdrawal from all opiates is a painful process, involving the entire central nervous system. Patients who are using are physically and psychologically dependent on the substance, making withdrawal symptoms extreme and sometimes dangerous.

Early withdrawal symptoms include muscle aches, agitation, anxiety, sweating, and fever to name a few. Late withdrawal symptoms usually peak 72 hours after patients stop using. The symptoms continue with the addition of nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, depression and extreme drug cravings.

It is not uncommon for individuals to experience the psychological symptoms and cravings for longer than a week. For this reason, attempting to detox alone is not encouraged. It is vital for you to have a support group including therapists and other mental health professionals. Coastline Rehab Center offers clients well-rounded detox.

Inpatient Drug Rehab 

In August 2010, almost 2 decades after the release of their powerful pain management drug, the same pharmaceutical company unveiled an updated formulation it touted as “abuse deterrent” hoping it’s appeal to abusers would diminish. While it was formulated to be more difficult to crush for an addict’s easy high, it was not foolproof.

March 2016, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) started a new campaign to address the rampant opioid epidemic that had burned like a wildfire out of control. The director of the CDC wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine that ample study of the data collected regarding the effects of long-term opioid use remains incomplete. He did note that there was no other prescribed pain medication available for nonterminal conditions that caused as many patient deaths.

The battle to control this “wonder drug” has cost millions of dollars, tens of thousands of lives and destroyed an untold number of families since its release in 1994, and the numbers just keep compounding each year.

Support Services offered for Opiate Addiction

Seeking opiate recovery following detox is important for life-long success. The goal of any solid Orange County rehab center is sober living. The road to recovery can be difficult, but the choice to get sober is the first step in the right direction. Inpatient rehab for OxyCodone abuse can help keep you focused on your long-term treatment plan while offering protection from the environment that allowed enabling and addiction to control your every waking moment.

Following the initial detox period, the immediate struggle becomes the mental and emotional battle to remain sober. Learning to live without drugs requires inpatient therapy and counseling. As most clients have gone through detox apart from family members, an important component of inpatient treatment will be family and group therapy sessions. Most opiate treatment centers offer 30-day, 60-day, and 90-day programs and then length of an individual’s stay will depend on the severity and length of their addiction

The Birth of an Epidemic

Opioid abuse has become an epidemic in America. The drug class itself has been around for over a century, and heroin was once touted as a “wonder drug” until it became illegal in 1924. For many years, treatment for pain was considered to be superfluous to western medicine, and medical professionals were trained to avoid prescribing any opioids.

This thought process was revisited in the 1980’s when two renowned doctors published a paper in The New England Journal of Medicine detailing an extensive study on the limited addictive nature when used under strict medical supervision. Doctors began to consider pain as a ‘controllable entity’ again and started revisiting opiate prescriptions for chronic pain sufferers.

This changed with the introduction of OxyContin in 1994 when a pharmaceutical company praised the drug’s ability to give those living with chronic pain conditions a new lease on life. During the next year, over 11 million prescriptions for opioid painkillers were filled all while the addictive nature of this synthetic opiate was downplayed.

At the same time, new standards for care were implemented by the Joint Commission, and all accredited hospitals and medical centers underneath this agency were instructed to include pain assessments for all patients. The same pharmaceutical company that developed and advertised OxyContin in the 1990’s sponsored a series of books that the Joint Commission published and required doctors to adhere to.

Within this book, studies were cited claiming “no evidence that addiction is a significant” when patients were prescribed OxyContin for the management of pain. It even went as far as to accuse medical professionals of false and inflated concerns about OxyContin’s addictive qualities. After professional outcry, the Joint Commission was forced to withdrawal it’s stand on short-term opioid addiction from published materials.

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