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The Opioid Dependency Crisis in The US

Opioid

The term opioid applies to a broad range of substances that are effective at addressing severe pain, often while producing a euphoric effect. While opioids are used in treating patients when this type of pain is present, they also have a significant street presence. Legal (with prescription) opioids include oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, and morphine, among others. Street opioids that are not used medicinally include heroin and fentanyl. One thing that both forms share is a robust addictive quality that makes can develop into a dependency problem in those using them.

Dependency, Addiction, And Long-Term Effects of Opioids

Addiction is a condition that develops when something that once brought pleasure becomes something you feel you can’t live without. Drug addiction manifests as a seemingly irresistible craving for the substance. Those living with addiction report feeling out of control and driven to use the drug despite repeated severe consequences of doing so. Opioids are incredibly addictive due to the powerful way they stimulate your brain’s reward centers.

When you take opioids, they cause you to produce endorphins, which activate the neurotransmitters that produce feelings of pleasure. This, in turn, produces a feeling of significant well-being until the drug begins to wear off. When it does, many report a strong desire to return to that state as quickly as possible. This is the first hook these substances get into you on the path to addiction.

This becomes more troublesome over time due to the development of tolerance. Each dose results in the opioid in the body producing fewer endorphins in response. This means it takes more of the same substance to achieve the same experience. This tolerance often leads users to seek stronger forms of the substance or obtain it through illegal means. The only to end this cycle is to stop taking opioids, but once you’re addicted, this can be difficult. Worse, it can become quite dangerous to your health to do so without help.

Some factors that influence your risk of addiction include:

  • Non-Prescriptive Usage- Opioids are most often provided in the form of a pill. Those using them recreationally may crush the pill so that they can snort or inject it. This can be deadly when the form provided is extended-release. Rapid release of large quantities into your bloodstream can cause an overdose.
  • Time Using The Opioid – The longer you have been using the opioid, the more likely you will become dependent on it. The risk of addiction increases significantly after spending more than five days taking them.
  • Other factors include:
    • Poverty
    • Unemployment
    • Genetics
    • Youth
    • Issues with criminal activity or DUIs
    • Risk-taking behavior
    • Heavy tobacco use
    • Severe depression or anxiety

If you’re concerned about forming an addiction to opioids, speak to your doctor.

Your Doctor Can Help Break The Cycle

Doctors are well aware of how dangerous opioid use can be and how difficult the addiction can be to break. Attempting to end addiction alone can be extremely difficult and is often dangerous. Once your body is addicted to opioids, it can respond very poorly to attempts to break that addiction. Your doctor can assist in breaking your addiction safely and effectively.

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