Unless you’ve been living under a rock or have managed to completely avoid the news for the last decade-plus (which honestly seems like a great idea at times), you’re painfully aware of the ongoing opioid crisis that’s been ravaging America.
Data from 2018 showed that 128 people died every day from opioid overdoses.
While there seems to be some semblance of light at the end of the tunnel with overdose deaths declining a touch recently, there’s still a long way to go. The number of drug overdoses deaths was still 4 times higher in 2018 than 1999, with ~70% of those involving an opioid of some kind.
Pretty brutal stats for a class of drugs that can genuinely do some good for the people that truly need it.
What Are Opioids?
As per the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “opioids are a class of drugs that include the illegal drug heroin, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, and pain relievers available legally by prescription, such as oxycodone (OxyContin®), hydrocodone (Vicodin®), codeine, morphine, and many others”.
As you’ll no doubt note, those brands are extremely familiar. Add to that Percocet and Lortab and the picture gets a little clearer on how widespread these drugs are. Principally they’re prescribed for relief of moderate pain. For severe pain, like advanced cancers, synthetic opioids like fentanyl are prescribed which are 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. The power of these drugs is off the charts.
Doctors largely have our best interests in mind and there’s inherently well-deserved trust in the relationship but the scope of what opioids are prescribed for has expanded over the years and put more and more people at risk for falling into addiction. In 2017 alone, more than 191 million opioid prescriptions were filled. Overprescription and marketing of opioids have certainly played a sizable role in this ongoing crisis.
Other opioids, like Methadone, are used in the treatment of opioid addiction and themselves are inherently risky.
The last of the opioids worth mentioning is one that’s just entirely illegal: heroin. An absolute wrecking ball of a drug, heroin can be smoked and snorted but is most typically injected. There were 5 times more deaths from heroin in 2018 than there were in 2010.
Why Are Opioids Addictive?
Regardless of whether you’re taking a prescription or the illegal variety, opioid addiction and dependence principally stem from the same thing. They all act similarly in producing feelings of euphoria in addition to blocking pain to achieve the desired painkilling effect. It’s that euphoria from the release of endorphins that triggers the reward centers of your brain and gets the ball of addiction rolling.
Due to the strength of these drugs, even a short stint on opioids can activate that mechanism in the mind and have you chasing those euphoric sensations with larger and larger doses.
How to Get Help With an Opioid Addiction and Dependence
The process begins with an internal recognition that you’re ready to take your life back. Arguably the toughest thing to tackle before starting down the road of recovery is the detox. Depending on how long you’ve been hooked on opioids you’ll have built a strong dependence on the drugs to feel “normal”, therefore getting them out of your system can create some unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.
After detox, inpatient addiction treatment is a great way to address why you started using opioids in the first place. During this time, you’ll learn techniques and coping mechanisms for long term sobriety.
Getting help with opioid addiction is genuinely a phone call away, so when you’re ready, reach out to us at Star Recovery Center and we’ll take you through the next steps.