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Opiate Addiction Information
Opiates and heroin are much more common than most people think. The common images of junkies in abandoned houses or on the street don’t show the whole picture. Addiction to these substances affects Americans of every age, race and financial level. Use of these drugs has risen to epidemic proportions, with accidental overdoses from prescription pain meds quadrupling since 1999.
Because many who use these substances are either burying emotional trauma or treating legitimate physical pain, addiction treatment is often the only way to break the cycle and find a way to move forward. Because many of these drugs are legal, they are fairly easy to obtain and have become a huge source of addiction in America.Topics Covered Below:
- What are Opiates
- Opiate Addiction
- Heroin Addiction
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What are Opiates
Opiates are drugs derived from the opiate plant. Many of these drugs are legal and are prescribed to treat pain. Opiates include:
Morphine is considered one of the strongest painkillers available, which is why it is often used in treating cancer and other fatal diseases.This drug comes both in pill form or a liquid form that can be injected. Most morphine users experience constipation and shallow breathing.Codeine
Codeine is used to treat mild to moderate pain. It is commonly abused because it’s easier to get a prescription for than stronger opiates. Though it is not as strong as some other opiates, it can still lead to addiction and overdose. Tolerance increases over time, causing the user to turn to more and more pills.Hydrocodone
Hydrocodone is more popularly known by its brand name, Vicodin. This drug comes in pill form, and is used to dull pain signals and the emotions related to them. Because it causes a slowbeat, hydrocone is often relied on by addicts to help them sleep.Oxycodone
Oxycodone is a prescription pain medicine sold in pill form under the brand names OxyContin, OxylR, Oxyl Fast, Percodan, and Percocet. It is manufactured in both controlled release and immediate release formulas. This drug can easily cause addiction because it increases dopamine, or pleasure, in the brain.
Though an opiate, methadone is commonly used to treat drug addiction. It helps reduce cravings and lessen withdrawal symptoms. Taken in combination with addiction treatment, it lessens the high and lows caused by drugs to set the addict up for long-term success.Fentanyl
Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine. It’s often used for pain management following major surgery. This is the powerful drug that resulted in an accidental overdose for recording artist Prince.Meperidine
Meperidine is more commonly known as Demerol. It is a strong painkiller often used during childbirth. It can be taken in pill form or injected.Heroin
See the Heroin Addiction section below for more information.
Addiction often involves secrecy, lying and hiding, so it may be difficult to tell if your loved one is addicted or exactly how much they are using. Some of the symptoms you’ll notice in someone addicted to opiates are:
- No pain if they are injured
- Seeming sedated
- Shallow or slow breathing
- Small pupils
- Nausea and vomiting
- Itching or flushed skin
- Slurred speech
- Confusion or poor judgment
Other signs of addiction include social withdrawal, multiple visits to different doctors to get prescriptions and financial problems. Many say marijuana is the gateway drug, but opiates can work similarly. About three quarters of heroin users were opiate abusers first.
Heroin gives the user a rush of pleasure when they first take it. This drug is taken many ways - snorting, injecting, smoking, or sniffing. It has been described as feeling like being covered with a warm blanket.
Along with the immediate euphoria, heroin use can cause going in and out of consciousness, a cloudy mind, heaviness in the arms and legs, and getting flushed. Long term, the effects are much more severe. Issues caused by continued heroin use include insomnia, collapsed veins, depression, liver and kidney disease, lung complications.
Heroin addiction is not always obvious. One of the most common signs is a general sleepiness.
At first, the symptoms when withdrawing from opiates are fairly mild. These include watery eyes, runny nose, sleeplessness, and restlessness. However, these symptoms may get worse after a couple days and could include vomiting, diarrhea, blurry vision, and rapid heartbeat. As with any addictive substance, the longer one has been using and the larger the amount used, the more dependent the body becomes on the substance. In severe cases, withdrawal from opiates can include extreme sweating and anxiety.
Heroin withdrawal can last anywhere from a few days to a few months. Cravings for heroin are much stronger when withdrawing from the drug. This is often why it’s so hard for addicts to get out of the using cycle. Withdrawal can be extremely unpleasant and may include:
- Depression, anxiety and irritability
- Aches and pains
- Excessive sweating, tears and runny nose
- Diarrhea and stomach pain
- Nausea and vomiting
Withdrawal symptoms, particularly fever, can be extremely dangerous and even fatal. The safest way to detox is with medical supervision. We can help you arrange detox here in Colorado.
To treat an opiate or heroin addiction, it’s necessary to address both physical and mental health. If the addiction began as treatment for physical pain, it is necessary to find a way to deal with that pain outside of addiction. The addict must also deal with any mental issues they may have been trying to self-medicate. Even if no mental disorders exist, they must find a way to change their behaviors so they don’t relapse. Here at Peaks Recovery, we have a comprehensive program to help the addict develop a customized plan for success.
Opiate addiction has risen drastically among young adults, and we treat this age group exclusively. By sharing their experiences with young people like them, addicts can learn the way out of addiction.
Contact us today to learn about your new beginning at our beautiful Colorado campus.