Opioids Addiction and Abuse

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Prescribing opioids is a fairly common practice, thanks to their wide range of uses as pain killers, muscle relaxants, cough suppressant, and other uses. Unfortunately, opioid dependence, addiction, and abuse are equally common. 

These highly addictive drugs often lead to substance abuse, and addictions can be difficult to get rid of due to the acute withdrawal symptoms that go with no longer taking the drug when you've developed an addiction or dependence.

Let's take a closer look at opioid addiction, abuse, and withdrawal. Especially, the different types of opioids, and how to deal with substance use disorder involving opioids.

Opiates vs. Opioids

The terms opiate and opioid are remarkably similar, which can lead to some confusion. Let's briefly discuss the differences between these two types of drugs.
This term refers to the natural opioids, those derived from the opium poppy or other plants containing a form of opium. This type of drug is
Typically regulated, and considered a scheduled drug.
Generally used primarily for pain relief.
This is a much broader term, which encompasses both the natural opiates and a range of semi-synthetic and synthetic opioids. This type of drug is:
Much broader, including both scheduled and over-the-counter medications.
Used for medical condition treatments that include, but are much broader than, pain relief.

Commonly abused opiates and opioids

Abuse of both opiates and opioids is fairly common. Some of the most commonly abused opioid drug types include:
Oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet)
Hydrocodone (Vicodin, Norco)

Types of Opioids

highlighting all the areas of opioid addiction
Opioid addiction and abuse are widespread, largely due to the fact that there are so many opioid drugs that have legitimate uses in the medical field. Prescription opioid abuse is only one of the problems in this regard, however, and opioid use disorder may arise in many different ways.

Below, we'll detail some of the different types of opioids, as well as their uses. It's worth noting that these are common prescription pain relievers, so many people encounter them.

Natural opioids

So-called natural opioid drugs are derived directly from the poppy plant, or other natural sources containing a form of opium. The opioids occur naturally in parts of the plant (often their sap or resin) and are extracted for use in pain relievers and other opioid medications.

Opioid addiction is a common result of using these medications, and drug abuse has been common since people first discovered opium. Some of the commonly encountered natural opioid medications include the following:
Historically used as a relaxant and pain reliever. This powerful painkiller is used today for extreme pain, including pain following surgery or pain brought on by cancer.

This mild to moderate pain reliever, a typical component of cough suppressants, is frequently taken in combination with other drugs.

This opioid is not frequently utilized for medical purposes on its own; instead, it is largely used in the synthesis of other opioids.

This opioid medication has a long history of use as a muscle relaxant and vasodilator. It is mostly used to treat specific cardiovascular diseases today.
Natural opioid prescriptions have a wide range of legitimate uses, but physical dependence is not uncommon since they're strong and highly addictive.

Semi-synthetic opioids

Semi-synthetic opioids are opioid drugs derived from natural opioids but partially synthesized to form a different type of compound. They're just as addictive as natural opioids, but have more medical uses. Some of the common semi-synthetic opioids include the following:
Strong semi-synthetic opioid oxycodone is used to treat moderate to severe pain.

A semi-synthetic opioid drug called hydrocodone is frequently administered to treat moderate to severe pain.

Strong semi-synthetic opioid hydromorphone is used to treat severe pain.

A semi-synthetic opioid with effects resembling those of oxycodone, oxymorphone.

A special type of semi-synthetic opioid, buprenorphine is used to treat opioid addiction and relieve pain.

This semi-synthetic drug has no legitimate medical uses. Heroin use generally occurs when people are seeking a buzz, or the numbing effects of the drug. Intravenous heroin use is the most common, but not the only methodology. This opioid drug is 100% illegal.
This type of opioid drug has a wide array of uses. Interestingly, buprenorphine is a useful addiction medicine that's often used in the treatment for opioid addiction. Other uses include palliative care, postoperative pain relief, and other types of pain management.

Synthetic opioids

Synthetic opioids are entirely derived from synthetic compounds. Rather than being derivatives of natural opioids, these drugs are fully synthesized and made as chemical imitations of natural drugs.

Some of the most common types of synthetic opioids include the following:
Fentanyl is a strong synthetic opioid that is mostly used to treat extremely painful situations, such cancer patients or situations involving surgery.

An artificial opioid called tramadol is used to treat mild to moderately severe pain. It inhibits the reuptake of serotonin and norepinephrine as well as opioid receptor agonism.

A synthetic opioid called methadone is primarily used to treat opiate addiction and to control pain. It aids in easing the symptoms and cravings associated with opioid withdrawal, enabling people to stabilize and participate in treatment.

Meperidine (Demerol)
A synthetic opioid called meperidine is used to treat moderate to severe pain.
Synthetic opioid addiction is not uncommon, and these drugs should be taken with care. Opioid Use Disorder OUD is a common side effect of using opioids, and may require opioid therapy to ensure recovery. Synthetic opioids have a wide range of uses, including as pain relievers, anesthesia, Medically-Assisted Treatment for Opioid addiction, and end-of-life care.

Prescription opioids

Prescription opioids are often those with the highest potential for opioid abuse and addiction. This category may contain opioids from all the categories listed above, but are generally more strenuously regulated.

Some of the most common types of prescription opioids include the following:
Oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet)
A synthetic opioid called meperidine is used to treat moderate to severe pain.

Hydrocodone (Vicodin, Norco)
When treating moderate to severe pain, doctors typically prescribe the opioid hydrocodone, which is frequently taken with acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

A less potent opioid known as codeine is used to relieve mild to moderate pain or as a cough suppressant.

Morphine (MS Contin, Kadian)
A strong opioid, morphine is usually used to treat severe pain.It is frequently used in hospitals to treat cancer-related pain and post-surgical discomfort.

Fentanyl (Duragesic)
Very strong synthetic opioid fentanyl is frequently used to treat severe pain.

Tramadol (Ultram)
An artificial opioid called tramadol is used to treat mild to moderately severe pain. It works in two ways: by activating opioid receptors and preventing the reuptake of serotonin and norepinephrine.

Side Effects of Using Opioids

how it can effect family members
Prescribed opioids and other types of opioid use have a wide range of side effects. Taking opioids may lead to the following side effect (among others):
Nausea or constipation
Skin rashes or itchy skin
Dry mouth
Dizziness or lightheadedness
Excessive sweating
Respiratory effects like slowed or shallow breathing (respiratory depression) or a suppressed cough reflex
Mental effects like mood swings, cognitive impairment, impaired judgment, difficulty focusing, and dulled emotions
Gastrointestinal effects like a decreased appetite, stomach pain, or vomiting
Cardiovascular effects like low blood pressure or a slow heart rate
Hormonal effects like reduced sex hormone production or impacted menstrual cycles and fertility
Long-term use can easily lead to opioid addiction, abuse, and even opioid overdose. More about opioid use disorder and opioid addiction below.

Causes and Risk Factors of Opioid Use Disorder (OUD)

Substance use disorder is a common problem that affects a large part of the population. Opioid addiction is a fairly common form of drug addiction, which has led to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration releasing a toolkit for the prevention of opioid overdose deaths.

There are many different factors that can contribute to the development of Opioid Use Disorder, so let's take a closer use at some of the common causes, and contributing risk factors.
Physical factors
1. Impact of opioid receptors on the brain
2. Tolerance, dependence, and withdrawal symptoms

Environmental factors
1. Influence of social and cultural norms
2. Availability and accessibility of opioids

Psychological factors
1. Co-occurring mental health disorders
2. Self-medication and emotional pain

Signs and Symptoms of Opioid Addiction

Like most types of drug abuse, opioid use disorder has a large range of signs and symptoms. This type of substance use disorder may be identified through the presence of the following signs and symptoms,

Behavioral indicators

When suffering from opioid use disorder or opioid withdrawal symptoms, people often undergo an array of behavioral changes. Some of these may include the following:
Changes in social activities and relationships - People suffering from opioid use disorder tend to have difficulty maintaining relationships, and regularly shifts in social standing. They may be reluctant to attend gatherings, find it difficult to spend time with friends, or encounter similar social struggles.
Neglecting responsibilities and declining performance - As with social requirements, opioid addiction can lead to struggles with fulfilling responsibilities. An individual who previously performed excellently may find it exceedingly difficult to maintain a similar, or even lesser, level of performance.

Physical and physiological signs

The physical and physiological indicators of opioid use disorder (OUD) may be more noticeable than the behavioral indicators. Some of them may include the following:
Constricted pupils
Slowed breathing
Constipation and other digestive disorders
Tract marks or injection sites
In severe cases, you may also see symptoms of opioid tolerance and withdrawal. Signs of tolerance may include:
A need for larger, or more frequent, doses
A gradually, or rapidly, increasing amount of opioid use
A shortened duration of effectiveness for the opioid in question
Opioid withdrawal symptoms are severe, which is why many people aim to prevent withdrawal symptoms when recovering from addiction. Some of these may include:
Flu-like symptoms
Aches and pains
Gastrointestinal problems
Mood swings
Pupil dilation
Increased heart rate
Increased blood pressure
These are but a few of the prevalent symptoms of opioid withdrawal, but they make it easy to see why addicts would want to avoid withdrawal symptoms.

Opioid Overdose: Signs And Dangers

With prolonged opioid use, and the accompanying tolerance to these drugs, comes a steady increase in the size and number of doses required to be effective. This can easily lead to drug overdoses.

Recognizing an overdose immediately is critical when it comes to saving the person suffering from an overdose. The signs of opioid overdose include the following:
Extreme Drowsiness or Loss of Consciousness
Slow or Shallow Breathing
Blue Lips and Fingertips
Pinpoint Pupils
Cold and Clammy Skin
Limp or Inability to Move
Slow or Absent Pulse

Treatment and Recovery Options for Opioid Abuse

opioid addiction treatment at a rehab in Thailand
Since these drugs are so addictive, and abuse is fairly common, various different addiction treatment options are available. We'll discuss some of these below.

Medical Detox

Medical detox is probably the most appropriate form of addiction treatment for opioid use disorder. The withdrawal symptoms for this disorder can be sever to the point of being fatal.

Medically-assisted opioid use disorder treatment allows patients to be weaned off opioids using less addictive opioids, and other medical tools. The advantage of this kind of detox is that you can avoid the worst of the withdrawal symptoms.

Behavioral Therapies

Behavioral therapies have proven castly effective as a way of treating opioid addiction. It uses techniques like CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) to help retrain the patient's brain. By changing their way of thinking and creating new associations, and methods of coping, behavioral therapies help the patient to step away from drug-linked behaviors.

Support Groups

Support groups are an essential part of opioid addiction treatment options. Having the support of other people who have experienced similar things is invaluable on the road to recovery.

Attending Inpatient Rehabilitation Programs at Miracles Asia

If you, or a loved one, suffers from opioid addiction or dependency, then an inpatient rehab program is the best option. Miracles Asia offers fantastic rehab options. Not only do our programs combine the best of behavioral therapies and traditional rehab, but we have medical staff on-site to help you work through the process without suffering from high-grade withdrawal symptoms.

Get your life back on track today. Contact us.

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