Opioids are one of the most addictive substances a person can use. The current opioid epidemic is due, in part, to many people who begin using prescription opioid painkillers, but move onto harder drugs like heroin after they develop physical dependence. Their addictive nature comes from their ability to change brain chemistry very quickly, as well as their ability to create intense feeling of euphoria quickly upon use. The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that 2.1 million people in the United States suffer from opioid addiction, with 467,000 of them addicted to heroin. Opioids act by attaching to receptors in the brain that reduce pain and, when these receptors are overwhelmed by synthetic opioids, create a feeling of euphoria. These drugs create changes to the reward system in the brain, causing a user to have to take increased amounts in order to achieve the same reward, or high, as they could previously attain with smaller doses. This is known as developing a tolerance. The NIDA explains that “Tolerance occurs when the person no longer responds to the drug as strongly as he or she did at first, thus necessitating a higher dose to achieve the same effect. The establishment of tolerance hinges on the ability of abused opioids (e.g., OxyContin, morphine) to desensitize the brain’s own natural opioid system, making it less responsive over time.” These neurological changes require a user to continue to take opioids or else they will experience withdrawal symptoms when the drug is removed. Symptoms of opioid withdrawal can be extremely painful and discomforting, and may include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and flu-like symptoms. A major contributing factor to the development of opioid is addiction is derived from a user’s attempts to escape withdrawal symptoms by using continually and in higher doses, which intensifies and exacerbates the nature of the addiction. Physical dependence, however, is only one factor in the development of addiction. Effective treatment must address the psychological, emotional, and environmental aspects of the addiction after detoxification. This not only breaks the physical addiction to the drug, but also helps a client develop the tools they need to maintain long-term sobriety.
Your addiction does not define you. When you make the decision to change your story by seeking help, you begin to change your life. Oceanfront Recovery, a men’s treatment center in beautiful Laguna Beach, offers individualized treatment programs to address all aspects of addiction or alcoholism. For more information about these treatment options, call today; (877) 279-1777