Many individuals have a problem distinguishing opiates from opioids. Opiates are extracted from the opium poppy plant. Opioids are synthetic or semi-synthetic drugs made to work just like opiates. Opiates and opioids are both strong painkillers. Of course, heroin is an opiate which is illegal in the United States. Other opiates include morphine and codeine. Physicians use morphine after surgical procedures for patients in severe pain. Opiates and opioids are used for extreme pain for patients who have been in accidents or have chronic pain which comes with terminal illness. Some examples of opioids are:
- Percocet or Percodan
- Duragesic (Fentanyl)
- Lorcet or Lortab
These are some of the better-known painkillers which doctors prescribe to patients. These drugs are being abused for recreational purposes also.
Effects of Opiates
Opiates not only relieve pain in patients, but they also give the feeling of well-being and euphoria. Deep relaxation is another force felt by individuals who take opiates. They act as central nervous system depressants and block pain. For this reason, they have a high rate of abuse and addiction. Over time, if the individual continues taking the drug, they develop a tolerance to it. Once this happens, they have to take more of the drug to feel the same sensations. Therefore, many who have prescriptions for opiates cannot continue getting them. When this happens, they look elsewhere for the drugs.
Some of the short-term effects of opiates are pain relief, euphoria, sedation, and drowsiness. Some of the long-term effects can
- Abdominal bloating
- Nausea and vomiting
- Liver damage
Frequently, those who abuse opiate pills will grind them up and either snort or add liquid and inject them. When injecting drugs, there are many other dangerous side-effects such as pulmonary embolisms or other heart problems. If the injection site gets infected, this can lead to dangerous blood infections. People can contract chronic diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis C using unsterile needles.
Pharmaceutical Companies and Opiates
Doctors have stopped prescribing these drugs so liberally. When opiates first started being produced and prescribed for pain, physicians were not aware of how addictive they were. Pharmaceutical companies took advantage of this; they did not fully disclose their potential for addiction.
From 1991 to 2003, prescriptions for opioids nearly tripled. We now wonder if the pharmaceutical companies don’t share some of the responsibility in this. They appear to be at least part of the blame for the massive number of prescription painkillers prescribed and abused daily.
Who Becomes Addicted to Opiates?
For many years, society has felt that those who become addicted to drugs or alcohol do so because of some weakness or moral flaws. We know today that this is not true. While judgment and choices do have something to do with addiction, it can also come about from other issues. Take painkillers, for instance; they can be a blessing for someone who has a terminal illness or someone recovering from major surgery. However, someone who is in chronic pain which is not that severe can start taking the painkillers only to develop a tolerance. Tolerance means that it takes more of the drug to relieve the pain, or they must take it more often than prescribed because they can no longer go the length of time as they did before with pain subsided.
Some individuals start using prescription painkillers solely for recreational purposes. In many instances, these are young adults or teens who can steal the drugs from parents or grandparents who legally have them. Young adults have “Skittle parties” where each person brings whatever they can find in their parents’ medicine cabinets, put them all in a bowl, and draw something out of the bowl and take it having no idea what it might be or how it will affect them.
Recreational users of opiates use them for one purpose, and that is the feeling of euphoria that they feel when using the drugs. They like the feeling the drugs give them. This feeling is the same reason many users of prescription opiates turn to heroin when they cannot get the prescription painkiller form. Another reason for turning to heroin is the fact that it is cheaper and more available than the painkillers on the streets. The majority of heroin on US streets today is manufactured in Mexico.
Descending Into Addiction
Once addicted to opiates, you will continue to descend rapidly. Those struggling with addiction of any kind start and keep neglecting obligations and responsibilities in their personal life and their working life. If attending school, you stop going to school or at least are not productive when there. Neglecting responsibilities with your personal life such as not paying bills and instead using the money for the drug of choice is typical for you. The same goes for ignoring your family and their needs. You risk losing everything and everyone you love and care about if you don’t make changes.
Get Treatment for Opiate Addiction
At this point, you must seek treatment for your addiction to opiates. You can research different treatment options and decide on the one that is best for your individual preferences and needs. One particular thing to look for in a drug rehabilitation center is if they have detox at the facility. Detoxing from opiates is not necessarily life-threatening; however, in an inpatient facility where there is a professional staff on hand 24/7, you will be made as comfortable as possible during the detoxification process. Should any medical issues arise, a staff member will be available to take care of them immediately.
After completing detox, you will be ready to focus on your recovery through treatment programs and counseling. Attending group therapy sessions, as well as individual counseling, will give you all the knowledge of how your addiction started as well as how to keep from relapsing once you return to your day-to-day life at home. You will meet other clients in rehab and form friendships and bonds that will last for years, if not forever. Through group therapy sessions, you are learning that you are not alone in your struggles with addiction. You and your peers can discuss experiences with opiates and substance abuse and offer support and encouragement to each other.
Most inpatient treatment programs provide aftercare treatment for clients when they leave the facility. This treatment is a benefit worth taking advantage of because you can have continued counseling (as needed) after returning home. This program helps if you have cravings or the temptation to use again. If you return home and realize that you are not quite ready to be on your own in recovery, you can attend outpatient counseling or attend a support group to help you continue on the right path and remain recovered from addiction.
Don’t let opiate addiction ruin the rest of your life. Enroll in a treatment program today to regain your health and happiness.