Learn About Opioids and Addiction



The United States is undergoing one of the most serious health crises of the modern world – the opioids epidemic. In 2017, more than 70,000 Americans died from a drug overdose, and almost 70% of these deaths were opioid-related. An average of 130 people died each day from an opioid drug overdose and deaths related to synthetic opioids rose by more than 45% from 2016 to 2017. Overdose deaths by prescription opioids increased by more than 10% among Americans ages 65 and older from 2016 to 2017.

Another astonishing statistic is that a total of 702,568 Americans died from drug overdoses from 1999 to 2017, with almost 400,000 of these deaths (56%) involving opioids. Many of these deaths could be prevented with a holistic drug rehab program.

Difference Between Opiates and Opioids

Opiates and opioids are terms used for compounds that bind to opiate receptors in the body. Opiate drugs are derived from the opium poppy plant and include heroin, opium, morphine, and codeine.

Opioids are similar to opiates, but opioids are synthetically manufactured drugs that induce similar effects. Opioids include semi-synthetic opiates that are drugs synthesized from natural opiates. An example of a semi-synthetic opioid is heroin made from morphine. There are also synthetic opioids, for example, fentanyl and methadone.

How Do Opioids Work?

Opioids act by attaching to certain proteins in the body called opioid receptors. These receptors are found throughout the brain and body. They work to regulate pain through the nervous and immune systems.

These receptors also affect the neurochemicals known as endorphins. Endorphins help modulate pain as well as play a role in our reward and reinforcement systems. Endorphins also affect our moods and stress level Check this web for Instant solution https://www.sanctuaryoftransformation.com/.

When an opioid is taken for pain, it attaches to receptors which produces pain relief. Other side effects may also occur that are nervous system related, such as constipation, itchiness, pupil constriction, drowsiness, mental fogginess, and slowed breathing.

Brain changes can lead to a decrease in the responsiveness to opioids (tolerance). The nervous system effects from opioids can also influence moods, either a state of unease or the opposite – euphoria.

Powerful reinforcement occurs from the pleasurable effects and pain relief opioids produce. An association develops between taking the drug and its physiological and perceptual effects. The result is repeatedly taking opioids to gain those effects. Cravings occur when time has passed with no drugs. These behaviors and biochemical reactions taken together drive addiction development.

Short-Term Health Risks

Opioids have short- and long-term health risks. Opioids are mostly prescribed because they work well at quickly relieving pain. Other effects that people experience when they take opioids include “feeling high” (euphoria), mood swings, sleepiness, and confusion. Death from opioid overdose can occur when a person takes a single, large dose.

Other short-term opioid health risks include:

  • Slowed breathing (also called respiratory depression)
  • Constipation
  • Sedation
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Intestinal bloating
  • Decrease in blood pressure
  • Widening of blood vessels
  • Decreases in cardiac function
  • Opioids can also affect the health of the musculoskeletal, immune, endocrine, and central nervous systems. 

Long-Term Health Risks

There are also long-term health effects from opioids that comes with taking them for long durations.  

The first effect is dependence. When three or more of the following factors exist together, dependence has developed:

  • Powerful compulsions to get and consume opioids
  • Difficulty in controlling drug-taking behavior
  • Tolerance, where more of the drugs are needed to feel the same previous effects
  • Loss of interest in pleasurable activities or interests that used to be enjoyed due to opioid use
  • Continued opioid use despite the obvious evidence of harmful consequences

Medical Detox Programs

Detox can be done on an inpatient or outpatient basis. In the early stages, a detox can last from several days to about a week to get the individual through the most critical withdrawal symptoms.

Medication-Assisted Treatment

A short-term opioid detox involves giving opioid substitute medications, such as methadone or buprenorphine. Depending on what medication and how much is initially given, the detox can take anywhere from days to months. Some opioid replacement detoxes can last 7 to 21 days. Other detox methods that use a slower tapering can last up to 6 months or longer.

Therapy in Detox

Many detox programs use other therapies, such as talk therapy, during detox. This prepares the person for the next step, which is formal opioid abuse treatment. Continued treatment is needed after an initial detox because there is an extremely high chance of relapse.

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