Opioid addiction

Opioid addiction is an ongoing epidemic.

Opioid addiction is an ongoing epidemic, affecting millions of people throughout the country. Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of accidental death in the U.S. with more than 100,000 people losing their lives in the last year. Despite growing concern surrounding the effects of opioids, physicians continue prescribing opioids at alarming rates.

Emerge Recovery exists to help you find freedom from the life-threatening grips of opioid addiction. Our specialized approach to drug rehab ensures you find the solution to your struggles with substances.

What are opioids?

Opioids are a class of drugs that include:

1. Prescription pain relievers (OxyContin, Vicodin, codeine, morphine, etc.)

2. Heroin

3. Fentanyl

These drugs block pain signals by interacting with opioid receptors throughout the brain and body. Opioid pain relievers can be a useful medication when used as directed for a short period. Regular ongoing use can lead to dependence and place people at a greater risk of misuse and abuse.

How do people misuse opioids?

Opioids are powerful drugs because they alter brain chemistry. They interrupt regular brain functions by stimulating certain areas responsible for signaling pain. In addition to pain-relieving effects, opioids also have euphoric effects, especially at larger doses.

Even those who use opioids as prescribed can develop dependence. The drugs change their brain chemistry to the point they experience negative effects when they stop taking them. Someone who continues using opioids to avoid the negative effects, or to experience the pleasurable ones, progresses into opioid misuse.

Opioid misuse includes things like taking too much of the medication, taking another person’s medication, taking it in a way other than prescribed, or using it to get high. Once you reach this point, the likelihood that opioid addiction may develop increases significantly. Misuse is dangerous and life-threatening but addiction is often lethal.

How many people experience opioid addiction?

While prescription painkillers do come with the risk of dependence, only about 4% of people who use them progress to using heroin. However, an alarming 86% of people who use heroin started with nonmedical prescription painkiller use. The majority of people use their prescription as directed but still face the chance of developing dependence.

A notable percentage of the population in the United States experiences some form of opioid use disorder. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, this includes:

  • 0.2% heroin use disorder (691,000 people)
  • 0.8% pain reliever use disorder (2.3 million people)
  • 1.0% opioid use disorder (2.7 million people)

While they may seem like small numbers, it also means you probably know someone who struggles with opioid addiction. Or maybe you’re concerned about your opioid use. Opioid misuse and abuse can affect anyone regardless of age, gender, economic status, location, and more.

What are some signs of opioid addiction?

Opioid addiction develops when someone uses drugs compulsively despite the consequences they cause. How do you know when opioid use has gone too far? If you’re wondering whether you meet the criteria for opioid use disorder, you may want to reconsider your use. Signs of opioid addiction include:

  • Compulsive, uncontrollable opioid use
  • Drug cravings
  • Weight loss
  • Constipation
  • Frequently feeling sick
  • Changes in sleep habits
  • Decreased libido
  • Isolation from friends and family
  • Stealing to support the habit
  • Getting into legal troubles
  • Worsening physical or psychological health

If you notice any of these signs, it’s time to reach out for help.

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