Due to the rising number of overdoses from the misuse of opioid drugs, the United States is concerned about the opioid epidemic. Experts say that the U.S. is in an opioid crisis as it is estimated that over two million Americans have a problem with opioids. The first government account of 2016 nationwide drug deaths is estimating 59,000, the largest annual jump from the previous year ever recorded in the US.
Therefore, it’s important to inform yourself and your loved ones about opioid drugs and misuse, opioid abuse symptoms, opioid addiction and opioid treatment available.
WHAT ARE OPIOID DRUGS?
Opioid drugs include medication pain relievers, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl and the illegal drug heroin. Opioid drugs change how the brain responds to pain and they work by lowering the pain signals the body sends to the brain. When opioid pain relievers are taken as prescribed by a physician, pain is managed safely. Short term pain relief (a few days) rarely leads to opioid dependence or addiction. However with regular or long term use of opioids, it is possible to develop a opioid addiction disorder even when taking the medication as prescribed by a doctor. As a result, if misused, opioids activate reward regions in the brain that produce a euphoric or “high” when taken at larger doses than prescribed.
TYPES OF OPIOID DRUGS
CODEINE is found in cough medicine and is a weaker opioid prescribed for mild to moderate pain.
HYDROCODONE (Vicodin) is the most commonly prescribed opioid. It is used for dental and injury related pain.
MORPHINE is a potent pain reliever used before and after surgical procedures for pain management and also prescribed to terminal cancer patients.
OXYCODONE (OxyContin, Percocet) is used for severe pain and is highly addictive.
OXYMORPHONE (Opana) is prescribed for moderate to severe pain relief. It is twice the strength of OxyContin and can be addictive very quickly. Opana ER is the first opioid drug that the U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has requested to take off the market because of opioid abuse and opioid addiction.
FENTANYL is a purely synthetic opioid 50 to 100 times stronger than heroin. It is commonly used for surgical anesthesia and also prescribed to treat pain. Almost all of the Fentanyl on the streets is illicitly manufactured.
HEROIN is a non-prescription illegal opioid drug that many turn to after being addicted to prescription opioids.
OPIOID DRUG DEPENDENCE, TOLERANCE, AND ADDICTION
With regular or long term use of prescription opioids prescribed from a physician or misuse of opioid drugs obtained illegally for recreational use, a person can quickly become dependent or tolerant on the drug. Evidence of dependence is when a person stops using the drug and withdrawal symptoms exist. Drug tolerance is when a person’s body gets used to the effects of the drug therefore has to take more of the drug to get the same effect.
Opioid addiction is a disease. because the body and mind can’t function without the drug. Compulsive drug use exists even when the person is having negative consequences in their life from the drug use.
HELP IS AVAILABLE
If you are using a drug without a doctor’s consent or if you can’t control your urge to take a drug, the first step is to realize that you or your loved one may have a problem. There are both physical and behavioral signs that become noticeable with drug abuse. If you recognize any of these signs in yourself or a loved one, please get help. Opioid dependence or addiction is a complex condition. Opioid addiction can be treated effectively with a medication-assisted treatment plan combined with drug addiction counseling and support.