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.
Opiate Addiction Treatment Programs
Prescription Pain Medication Abuse
Opioid and Morphine derived pharmaceuticals are very commonly prescribed for varying levels of pain control, and are often very addictive in nature.
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, 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 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
- 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.
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.
- Extreme mood swings
- Sleep disturbances
- Slowed breathing and heart rates
- Dry mouth
- Kidney problems
- Nausea and nomiting
- Memory and cognitive changes
- Increased pain
- Seizures and temperature Fluctuations
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.
About Opiates and Addiction
Drugs classified as Opiates are responsible for the current drug epidemic sweeping across the United States. The rate of overdose deaths directly linked to opiates has increased at an alarming rate over the past 20 years. With OxyContin prescriptions flooding drug cabinets since 1996, illegal distribution and abuse have skyrocketed. The facts are clear, prescription opiate abuse has caused a huge increase in deaths and addiction.
Drug use and abuse have been on the rise, but the increase in opiate-related addictions is second to none. So commonplace is this disease, popular culture has accepted opiate addiction rates as the new reality in a fight against prescription drug abuse. One does not have to look very far to find sobering statistics regarding opiates and the plague they are causing on men, women, and children.
The Beginning of a Public Health Crisis
This public health crisis started with seemly innocent pain prescriptions handed out in shocking numbers through the late 1990’s and 2000’s. Many addicted began as patients seeking pain relief following injury or illness. Pain management became a booming business and access to Vicodin, Percocet and OxyContin was relatively unrestrained. As the medical community began to realize the need for stricter distribution protocols, the number of addicts had become almost unthinkable. Faced with increased scrutiny, many turned to cheaper painkillers such as heroin, and the war against opiate abuse rages on today.
The following are some facts regarding Opiate Addiction:
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Opiate medications are painkillers. Prescribed under the brand names such as Hydrocodone, Codeine, Morphine and Methadone, Opiates can be found in many drug cabinets. These medications are prescribed for post-operative, illness-related, or accident-related pain control. Many addicts were prescribed long-term pain management, often self-regulated.
Opiates are very effective in controlling moderate to severe pain. The effectiveness of opiates is unfortunately also their downside as they are highly addictive and easy to abuse.
Opiates can cause major, life-threatening issues even when used properly. It is important to understand that opiates, whether taken in their natural state or synthetically derived, are very powerful medications. Patients taking opiates should be forewarned of blood pressure and cardiac complications, as well as respiratory issues, before taking any prescription opiates.
Opiate addiction is a disease. While not curable, addiction is treatable and manageable. Individuals addicted to drugs with the opiate class, as well as street drugs such as meth, crack, and cocaine, are all fighting a disease. The stigma with drug treatment can be the biggest obstacle to seeking treatment. More needs to be understood about this disease if we are to work to help addicts looking for recovery.
Most teen addicts admit to taking opiate drugs available in their own medicine cabinets. The first line of defense in homes should be locking up prescription painkillers and other medications that are attractive to youth. Many youth start using at home, or in another family member’s home, and soon resort to cheaper, street drugs when prescriptions are used up.
Some Historical Facts About Opiates
Opiate medications are derived from the opium poppy plant. The use of opium for recreational and medicinal uses has been in practice for thousands of years. Some prescription opiates, such as Morphine, are considered natural opiates. Others, such as heroin and OxyContin are synthetic opiates, meaning the natural product is often remade in a manufacturing laboratory, creating stronger, more controlled dosing.
Opiate addiction has been around for a long time. For as long as opiates have been used recreationally, individuals have become addicted. Well before the addictive nature of the opium plant was understood, abuse of this drug was documented.
Opium dens were commonplace in America. Immortalized in movies and books, opium was an escape drug for many overseas before making it to the United States in the 1830’s.
Morphine was once considered a miracle drug. During the Civil War, morphine was doled out to the injured without much consideration for their addictive qualities. Many did not understand this fact as its potency was kept from public knowledge, and as a result, many that had served our country became abusers.
Opiates Are Powerful Drugs
Opiates can permanently rewire brain neuron function. Chronic use of opiates, even within prescription dosing, can cause lifelong brain chemical changes that increase tolerance to natural chemicals such as dopamine, which can lead to opiate abuse by individuals seeking to feel ‘normal’ again.
OxyContin manufacturers reformulated their product to deter illicit use. Responding to the resounding outcry following the surge in medication abuse including snorting and injecting, the manufacturer reformulated the tablets making them harder to use illegally.
Many opiate overdoses are unintentional. Noted in the overdoses of both chronic users and addicts, the tolerance built when using opiates such as Morphine, Hydrocodone, Heroin, Suboxone, Methadone, and Percocet reduces the drug’s effectiveness. To achieve the same “high”, users constantly increase their doses. This leads to fatal overdosing, almost always unintentional.
About Opiate Addiction Withdrawal
Opiate addicts avoid treatment because of withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal from opiate addiction can be very painful and involves cravings, nausea, vomiting, muscle contractions, bone pain, sweating, and insomnia. Let untreated, it is almost impossible to manage symptoms without professional help and medical intervention. Withdrawal without supervision can be dangerous and is never suggested.
Opiate withdrawal symptoms can last up to two weeks. While some in detox report that troublesome withdrawal symptoms lasted for months, most experience a peaking between 48-72 hours of quitting.
Opiate addicts can relapse more than other recovering drug abusers. Because of the basic brain chemical changes in a recovering opiate addict, relapse is not uncommon. This should not be viewed as a failure but as a part of long-term recovery. Sobriety is a life-long battle for opiate addicts.
Opiate withdrawal medications can help detox significantly but are also addictive. Drugs like Suboxone are often a part of drug detox treatment for opiate abuse, but since this drug is a synthetic opiate, addiction is possible as a result. Care must be taken when using another opiate to treat existing addiction.
Looking for more information about opiate addiction? Coastline Rehab Centers has resources available for addicts and their family members. Contact us directly today and let us help get your recovery journey started.
About Opiate Drugs
Opiate addiction signs and symptoms are often quite noticeable, as opiate addiction causes major instabilities in its abusers. Opiates are drugs that can be derived naturally or synthetically from either the opium poppy plant or in a pharmaceutical laboratory. Opiates are both legal prescription medications and illicit street drugs. Some of the legal opiates commonly prescribed would be morphine, hydrocodone, oxycodone, and codeine. Heroin is an illegal opiate sold on the streets.
Opiates are relatively safe when taken for short-term pain relief and under the close supervision of medical personnel. That said, opiate addictions are on the rise, and the opiate addiction epidemic has caused major societal and financial issues for almost every state across America. Opiate addiction signs and symptoms can vary from individual to individual, but there are some commonalities that all opiate addicts experience. Once individuals recognize opiate addiction signs and symptoms in their loved ones, the decision to seek treatment is urgent. Opiate addiction signs can be confused with other chronic illnesses, which can delay recognition and treatment.
Signs and Symptoms of Opiate Addiction
Some opiate addiction signs and symptoms are easier to recognize than others. For many individuals addicted to opiates, the specific reasons for their addiction remain a mystery. There have been shown to be genetic factors that play a role in an individual’s likelihood of becoming an addict. There are also some indirect genetic influences that may cause an increased risk of opiate addiction or any addiction at all. Peer groups play into this group, as who we choose to spend our time with will directly impact our behaviors. An individual’s coping factors also have a role in the chances of drug addiction or opiate dependency. Should you have questions or concerns, call Coastline Rehab Centers now and speak to one of our phone counselors.
- Decreased motivation
- Improved alertness
- High heart rate/blood pressure
- Lowered appetite
- Disrupted sleep patterns
- Decreased inhibitions
- Sensitivity to all stimuli
- Slowed and shallow breathing
- Bronchospasms and chest pain
Common Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms
- Severe cravings
- Stomach pain and cramping
- Cold sweats and chills
- Joint and bone pain
- Vomiting, diarrhea, nausea
- Muscle contractions
- Body shakes
- Disrupted sleep and insomnia
Opiate Addiction and Co-occurring Disorders
It is quite common for opiate addicts to have co-occurring disorders. Usually, this involves the abuse of two substances, but it can also include physical and psychological disorders. It has been stated that opiate addiction can open up a Pandora’s box of issues and problems for the heroin addict and their families. It is important to understand and recognize that co-occurring disorders become an emergent issue when mental illness is a factor. Mental illness and opiate abuse seem to have a magnetic pull towards each other, possibly from the changes in brain function caused by opiate abuse. Some of these co-occurring disorders are the following:
- Bipolar Disorder
- Anxiety Disorder
- Panic Disorder
- Depressive Disorder
- Tobacco Use
- Cannabis Abuse
- Alcohol Abuse
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)