Opioid Addiction

The Serious Problem of Opioid Addiction

Opioid addiction is a serious public health issue that affects people of all ages and backgrounds and has devastating consequences. Opioid addiction has been labeled an epidemic, as opioids are the most commonly abused drug in the world and their use is linked to the highest rate of overdose death in the United States.

An opioid is a type of narcotic pain reliever used to treat moderate to high pain. Most commonly prescribed opioids are hydrocodone (Vicodin), codeine, oxycodone (Percocet), morphine, and fentanyl, among many others. Heroin is also an opioid, but is not typically prescribed for medical treatment. Some opioids are available legally with a prescription, while others are available illegally on the street.

Opioid addiction occurs when a person begins to misuse these drugs either by taking them in larger amounts than prescribed, taking them more often than prescribed, or taking them without a prescription. Many people who become addicted to opioids started using the drug for legitimate medical reasons such as treating chronic pain.

Signs of Opioid Addiction

There are several common signs of opioid addiction that individuals should be aware of, such as:

  • Taking larger amounts of opioids than prescribed by a doctor
  • Seeking out multiple doctors to get an opioid prescription
  • Using opioids in combination with other substances such as alcohol or benzos (Xanax)
  • Engaging in dangerous activities while under the influence of opioids
  • Inability to control opioid use despite its negative consequences (such as neglecting responsibilities)
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, sweating, muscle aches, anxiety, and restlessness when not using opioids

Treatment for Opioid Addiction

Treating opioid addiction can be a difficult and long process, but it is possible. The first step is typically medical detoxification, which is the process of removing the opioids from the body. After the detox period, a person may need to enter a rehabilitation program or inpatient treatment center to further address the addiction and focus on long-term recovery.

Treatment for opioid addiction usually includes individual or group therapy, medication-assisted treatment, such as buprenorphine or methadone, and 12-step recovery programs. During treatment, individuals learn how to identify and address the issues that are contributing to the opioid addiction, such as stress, mental health issues, and underlying conditions.

Preventing Opioid Addiction

In addition to treatment, there are some steps individuals can take to help prevent opioid addiction, such as:

  • Sticking to the prescription as written by the doctor
  • Storing opioids safely and securely
  • Educating family and friends on the potential risks of using opioids
  • Finding alternative methods for treating pain, such as exercise, massage, or mental health counseling
  • Seeking professional help if the person is having difficulties with opioid use or withdrawal

Opioid addiction is a serious problem that affects millions of people in the United States each year. If you or someone you know is struggling with opioid addiction, it is important to seek professional help as soon as possible to start on the path to recovery.