Opioid Use and Abuse

Let’s first begin with what an opioid chemical is and how these chemicals affect a person’s brain. An opioid is a powerful doctor-prescribed painkiller such as: morphine, methadone, hydrocodone, and oxycodone. Another form of an opioid is heroin, which is an illegal drug.  Opioids prescribed by a doctor are used to treat both severe acute pain (limited in duration, such as following surgery) as well as various types of chronic pain (lasting longer than three months). These chemicals target the same brain receptors as heroin, causing euphoria. In addition to the euphoric side effect, there are also many other side effects that include sedation, respiratory depression, and constipation. As such, a risk of long-term opioid therapy is addiction, usually defined as the development of abuse or dependence.

Risk Factors for Opioid Use Addiction:

Although people with chronic pain are more likely than others to receive prescriptions for opioids, the risk of developing a painkiller addiction depends on more than just prolonged exposure to these drugs. For this reason, it is necessary that clinicians conduct a comprehensive medical and psychiatric evaluation of patients before prescribing an opioid medication.

opioid use and abuse There is a significant link between non-opioid substance abuse disorders, such as misuse of alcohol and illegal drugs, and therapeutic opioid abuse. The American Pain Society notes that the most significant risk factor for developing a painkiller addiction is a personal or family history of an alcohol or other substance use disorder. In a study from the Cleveland Clinic, researchers conducted a retrospective analysis of therapeutic opioid abuse with 199 patients treated for non-cancer pain. The reason for this study was to investigate the association with non-opioid substance abuse disorders, opioid dosage, and therapeutic opioid abuse (TOA).

The results were very interesting: 87 of 199 patients were diagnosed with TOA.  25 percent of these patients with NO known history of substance abuse identified with TOA. For those with a known history of substance abuse, the number jumped to 83 percent.

Something else to be aware of when being prescribing opioids is age. The risk of an individual becoming dependent or addicted to this chemical is significantly higher in teenagers and young adults than it is in older adults. Studies show the age range that suffers most from this addiction are ages 12-25.

Options for Treatment:

Because opioid addiction creates long-term changes in the brain, people undergoing treatment not only experience debilitating withdrawal symptoms, they are also prone to relapse because of cravings. An individual will need to undergo 2 major steps to come off of an opioid addiction: (1) Detoxification, and (2) Long-term Maintenance. The best way to take these steps is to find a treatment center that can cater to your specific needs and get you on the road to recovery.

Although counseling is an important part of treatment, most people addicted to opioids require treatment with medication during both detoxification and maintenance therapy, which is why it is so important for a person to refrain from coming off these chemicals on their own. The choice of which medication to use depends on how severe the addiction is. This decision must be made by a physician well-trained in addiction medicine to ensure a safe transition off of the prescription painkillers.

opioid use and abuse Opioids have become a frightening issue in this generation of young adults and we are beginning to see this problem more and more in the field of addiction.  Our opioid detoxification program, located in Laguna Beach, California, provides the support a person needs to get through the difficult withdrawal phase of opioid rehabilitation. Early withdrawal symptoms include anxiety, muscle aches, and insomnia. Later withdrawal symptoms include abdominal cramping, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. Our staff monitors each individual closely during withdrawal, in a process that can usually be completed in 7 to 10 days.

During opioid withdrawal, we make sure a person remains hydrated and receives nourishment as their appetite increases and their body heals. At the same time, they receive counseling during their stay and partake of our many amenities to heal their bodies and soul. For example, since we are located nearby the ocean we integrate the ocean experience into our therapy. Once the withdrawal symptoms subside, Soul Sanctuary follows up with additional residential treatment that lasts one to four weeks. We want to see long-term success in everyone’s recovery and we will do our best to make sure that happens!

If someone you know is struggling with alcohol or drugs, visit www.soulsanctuarylaguna.com or call 800-772-1097 to learn more about our treatment programs.