Opiates bind to specific receptors in the central nervous system to relieve pain and produce euphoria. Some opiates, like heroin, are illegal and can oftentimes lead to abuse and addiction. Prescription opiates include: hydrocodone (one brand name for it is Vicodin), oxycodone (OxyContin and Percocet are commonly seen brand names for it), morphine (alias Kadian and Avinza) and codeine. Hopefully no abuse will result from these when taken as prescribed in the short-term.1
However, depending on the individual, extended use of opiates – even those taken by doctor’s prescription – can lead people down a dangerous slope. Few people who find themselves in the frenzied cycle of addiction (get, use, and then think about how to get more of it) can break free on their own.
Rational minds – like the professionals at a highly respected opiate rehab clinic – must usually become involved in order to lead opiate abusers out of the strong grip of addiction. “But what’s so wrong with abusing opiates, really…just for a while?” you may ask. Well, let’s weigh the benefits and hazards of opiate abuse versus a life without opiate dependence.
The Nature of Opiate Abuse
Yes, opiates act to produce desired pain relief and a sense of well-being, but their abuse through overuse can create a relentless master that makes greater and greater demands on the user over time.
Opiates and opioids alter the brain’s normal mode of operation. By continued use, these changes in brain chemistry and circuitry – including structural alterations in the mesolimbic pathway that involves dopamine transmissions and reward triggers – can pull an individual into more frequent use and higher dosages. You see, the body’s natural reaction to these powerful drugs is to develop tolerance (adaptation) to them, requiring the user to take more and more drugs in order to achieve the desired effect.
Addiction is a neurobiological disease that affects memory and decision-making. For this reason, many addicts do not recognize that they have a drug problem, or they simply refuse to acknowledge it. Denying the problem does not make it go away, and ongoing opiate abuse involves the following risks:
- Growing dysfunction within the brain reward and central nervous systems.
- Regular spikes in opiate dosage become necessary to achieve the same psychoactive effects.
- Addictive behaviors that compromise relationships, employment, health and finances.
- Drug-involved accidents harm the user, loved ones and the general public.
- Physical and mental health side effects increase discomfort and dysphoria.
- Even the body’s natural pain relief system goes by the wayside, since endorphins – hormones that the body naturally produces when pain signals are received in the brain – decrease over time when artificial pain relievers are introduced again and again.2
Peace and happiness, for an opiate abuser, means obtaining more and more opiates – far beyond what may be easily obtainable…or affordable. Even then, a real sense of well-being is hard to come by as time wears on. Things can get crazy. As a Drug Abuse Warning Network recently reported, approximately 30% of all drug-related emergency room visits involve either heroin or prescription opioid painkillers.3
The Immense Benefits of Recovery from Addiction
When opiate or opioid addiction forms, the brain reward system responds to little else and the user can think of little else. Physical and psychological dependence makes greater and greater demands on the user.
Recovery from opiate or opioid abuse and addiction involves the following forms of healing:
- The brain reward system and neurotransmitter pathways begin returning to normal.
- Memories of drug use decrease in frequency and potency.
- Relationships can address strains, responsibility shifts, enabling and trust issues.
- Feelings of happiness and satisfaction are no longer limited to opiate highs.2
The early stages of recovery may involve challenging moments as the mind and body heal, but the same treatment tools that empower recovery can also improve other areas of life. At the most effective opiate rehab centers, treatment is integrated and evidence-based, addressing any other co-occurring disorders. In other words, recovery should involve healing of the whole person, just as opiate abuse was destroying the whole person.
Free from the bondage of abuse and addiction, people can return to their authentic self. They can regain the joy and satisfaction of being productive, and they can find enjoy a sense of pleasure and fulfillment in personal relationships with other people once again – a life no longer consumed with getting and using opiates. New memories can now be formed, and dreams can be fulfilled.
What Really Happens at Good Addiction Treatment Centers?
When addicts seek help for opiate or opioid abuse, rehab centers customize treatment to address each patient’s specific needs. The following therapies are commonly employed during opiate rehabilitation:
- Integrated treatment for co-occurring mental health and personality disorders.
- Behavioral and motivation therapies that improve thought patterns and perspective.
- Relapse-prevention strategies for coping with drug cravings and triggers.
- Classes to assist with healthy anger/stress management and conflict resolution.
- Holistic pain management for opiate use associated with chronic pain.
One of the key goals in rehab is to address unresolved trauma, social anxiety, depression and other issues that may have motivated substance abuse and can trigger relapse. Tackling these issues improves both recovery and one’s quality of life.4
We understand and are equipped to address all of the issues related to opiate and opioid abuse and addiction. When you call our 24/7 toll-free line, we will answer your questions, provide useful information and help you make a wise decision about what action to take. We can even help you determine if your health insurance will cover the necessary treatment. For immediate assistance, we encourage you to call now.
1 “What Are Opioids?” National Institute on Drug Abuse, https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/prescription-drugs/opioids/what-are-opioids , (November 2014).
2 Kosten, Thomas R., M.D., et.al., “The Neurobiology of Opioid Dependence: Implications for Treatment”, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2851054/ , (July 1, 2002).
3 “DrugFacts: Drug-Related Hospital Emergency Room Visits”, National Institute on Drug Abuse, https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/drug-related-hospital-emergency-room-visits , (May 2011).
4 “DrugFacts: Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction”, National Institute on Drug Abuse, https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/treatment-approaches-drug-addiction , (January 2016).