Addictions Data Verified

Opioid Addiction and Abuse

Published on Oct 14, 2017 and last reviewed on Jun 09, 2022   -  4 min read

Abstract

Opioid addiction is a long-lasting or chronic condition with major health, social, and economic problems. The below article details the same.

Contents
Opioid Addiction and Abuse

What Are Opioids?

Opioids belong to a class of medications that work by reducing the number of pain signals the body sends to the brain. They also change the brain's response to pain and produce feelings of pleasure and pain relief. They are the derivatives of the plant Papaver somniferum, commonly known as the poppy husk. Opioids are taken orally or by inhalation, intravenous, intramuscular, and subcutaneous routes. Healthcare professionals often prescribe opioids to manage moderate to severe pain. The commonly prescribed opioids are Opium, Oxycodone, Codeine, Fentanyl, Buprenorphine, Methadone, Oxymorphone, Morphine, Tramadol, and Hydrocodone. Some opioids, like Heroin, are illegal drugs with a tendency of abuse. When used correctly, opioids are safe. But when a person takes opioids for a long time, it can lead to drug abuse, dependence, and addiction.

What Are the Uses of Opioids?

These medications manage pain well and can help boost the quality of life. Opioids are widely prescribed to treat many issues, like toothaches and dental procedures, injuries, surgeries, and chronic conditions such as cancer.

What Is Opioid Addiction?

Opioid addiction refers to a powerful and compulsive urge to use opioids even when they are no longer required medically. Opioid drugs can even cause addiction in some people when the drugs are appropriately prescribed and taken as instructed. People who become addicted to opioids can prioritize getting and using these drugs over other activities in their lives, often negatively affecting their professional and personal relationships and resulting in poor quality of life.

What Causes Opioid Addiction?

Opioids alter the brain by forming artificial endorphins. Besides stopping pain, these endorphins also make you feel good. Unfortunately, excessive opioid use can cause the brain to rely on these artificial endorphins. Once the brain does this, it can stop creating its own endorphins. Opioids change the brain's chemistry and lead to drug tolerance, due to which, over time, the dose needs to be increased to attain the same effect. In addition, taking opioids for a long time produces its dependence. When people stop taking this drug, they experience withdrawal symptoms like diarrhea, muscle cramping, anxiety, sweating, nausea or vomiting, chills, shaking, pain, depression, and insomnia.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Opioid Addiction?

Opioid addiction is also known as substance abuse. One clear sign of opioid addiction is an inability to stop using opioids. The other common signs and symptoms of opioid abuse include:

What Are the Main Risk Factors for Opioid Addiction?

Several genetic, psychological, and environmental factors contribute to opioid addiction, which can happen quickly or after many years of opioid use.

The known risk factors for opioid addiction and include:

In addition, women have a particular set of risk factors for opioid addiction. For example, women are more likely to have chronic pain than men. They are also more often prescribed opioid medications, given higher doses, and use opioids for extended periods.

How Is Opioid Addiction Diagnosed?

The medical health professional can diagnose opioid use disorder and opioid addiction by a medical assessment. It also often includes testing to rule out mental health disorders. A person struggling with opioid addiction may not display symptoms right away. However, there may be some signs that they need help over time.

What Is the Treatment for Opioid Addiction and Abuse?

Opioid addiction is a serious and chronic problem and should be treated and continually managed and monitored like other chronic conditions. Opioid addiction treatment is different for each person. The main goal of therapy aims to stop using opioid drugs. Treatment can also help avoid using these drugs again in the future. The treatment modalities for opioid addiction include:

1. Pharmacological Treatment: The pharmacological treatment includes two phases, the detoxification phase, and the maintenance phase.

2. Non Pharmacological Treatment: In addition to pharmacological treatment, mental or emotional support is also necessary to manage opioid addiction. The non pharmacological methods are combined with pharmacological treatment to improve the therapeutic regime. These treatments also help a person with opioid addiction avoid opioids, deal with cravings, and heal damaged relationships. It comprises therapies, including:

How Can You Avoid Addiction to Opioids?

Opioids are safe when used for fewer days to manage acute pain, such as pain after surgery or a bone fracture. Work with a doctor to take the lowest dose possible for acute pain. However, opioids are not likely to be a safe and effective long-term treatment option for chronic pain. Many alternate treatment options are available, like less-addictive pain medications and non pharmacological therapies. If a loved one is considering taking opioids to manage pain. In that case, it is vital to consult a physician, anesthesiologist, or other pain medicine specialist about using them safely and exploring alternative options if needed. Learn from a physician or anesthesiologist to use opioids more wisely and safely and explore what pain management alternatives may work for you.

Conclusion:

Opioids are drugs that a doctor often prescribes to help reduce pain. These drugs usually are safe when taken for a short time and as prescribed by a doctor. When used correctly, opioids are safe. But when used for a long time, it can lead to drug abuse, dependence, and addiction. Treatment for opioid addiction and abuse is given by medical professionals. Medications such as Methadone, Buprenorphine, or Naltrexone combined with behavioral therapy can help people recover.

Last reviewed at:
09 Jun 2022  -  4 min read

RATING

16

Tags:

Comprehensive Medical Second Opinion.Submit your Case

Related Questions & Answers


Stress in a Broad Perspective - More Than Merely a Mental Illness!!

Article Overview: Stress is not always due to mental (psychiatric) illnesses. Physical wellness also counts for stress levels in modern life. Read Article


What Do You Think Is Stress in Your Daily Life? Stress is not just a mental illness. It is not merely a disease of your brain and does not always mean that you have a serious psychiatric disorder. It is a multifactorial disorder including general physical wellness, issues related to chronic disease...  Read Article

What precautions need to be taken to prevent HIV and AIDS?

Query: Hello doctor, What are the precautions that need to be taken to avoid HIV and AIDS?  Read Full »

Am I safe to exercise with premature ventricular contractions and bigeminy conditions but no structure heart problems?

Query: Hello doctor, I have PVC and bigeminy. I have had tests done and I do not have structural heart problems. Are alcohol and exercise harmful in case of PVC and bigeminy? Also, is it absolutely safe to exercise, if I have PVC and bigeminy during exercise and afterward as well? I take Thyroxin, bu...  Read Full »

Popular Articles Most Popular Articles

Do you have a question on Psychiatric Illness or Drug Abuse?

Ask a Doctor Online

* guaranteed answer within 4 hours.

Disclaimer: No content published on this website is intended to be a substitute for professional medical diagnosis, advice or treatment by a trained physician. Seek advice from your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with questions you may have regarding your symptoms and medical condition for a complete medical diagnosis. Do not delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice because of something you have read on this website. Read our Editorial Process to know how we create content for health articles and queries.