Opiate drug addiction has gone up by 183 percent in the last seven years compared to about 130 percent rise in over all prescription drug abuse. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services acknowledges opiate abuse as the second most prevalent form of prescription drug addiction in the United States. At least 10 percent of Americans face the increased risk of prescription drug dependency.
What is an opiate?
An opiate is a narcotic pain killer drug made from an opium derivative. The most popular opioids prescribed to control or manage pain include morphine, oxycodone, fentanyl, vicodin and hydrocodone. These are available in various forms – pills, tablets and liquids. Opiates alleviate pain by inhibiting pain transmission by the central nervous system.
How do opiates work?
It is important to know how an opiate medicine works. An opiate stimulates opioid receptors in the body. Located in the brain, spinal cord, and gastrointestinal tract, these receptors alter the way pain is experienced. It blocks the pain signal transmission and brings in a rewarding system where these opiates incentivize the brain where neurotransmitters become active in response to receptors and override pain perception.
What is opiate drug addiction?
Opiate drug addiction occurs when there is a constant and strong craving for opiates allowing these drugs to become psychologically or physically habit-forming. The patient with opiate drug addiction develops a high-level of tolerance for these medications and requires increased intake to feel the same effect. Such chronic exposure leads to greater physical dependence underlined by a compulsion to take the drug.
How does opiate drug addiction occur?
Opiates lead to euphoric-like effects in users. Neurotransmitters activated by the receptors cause the brain to avoid pain sensation perception and instead, experience a rewarding feel. However, the effect lasts only for a short term and patients resort to continued opiate use to experience pain relief. This gradually turns into a habit and dependency develops. With dependency becoming more pronounced, patients suffer from withdrawal syndrome whenever they suddenly stop or reduce the intake of these drugs.
What are common causes of opiate drug addiction?
- Prolonged use of opiate drugs
- Self-medication over a long time
- Biological vulnerability
- Genetic factor
- Gender and ethnicity also play a role in habit forming and drug addiction.
- Mental and medical disorders also influence dependency on opiates.
- Environment, peer group, friend circle, family, education, stressful ambience and socioeconomic are counted among the factors that can enhance the risk and course of opiate drug addiction.
- Sexual and physical abuses force patients to take recourse to drug abuse and develop addiction.
- Lack of guidance for adolescent patients
What are signs and symptoms of opiate drug addiction?
- Psychological symptoms:
Mood change, euphoria for the opiate drug, increased anxiety, depression, onset of mental disorder, increased irritability, lack of concentration and motivation, craving for opioids, confusion
- Behavioral symptoms:
Self-medication, use of opiate drugs at the slightest pretext, doctor shopping, social withdrawal, increased drug use, more time devoted to obtaining, using opiates, less attention to study, daily work or family matters, abandonment of important activities
- Physical symptoms
Mentally depressive, increasingly insensitive, high blood pressure, physical agitation, sleeping problem, increased fatigue, depressed respiration, withdrawal effects, cold sweat, muscle and bone pain, altered temperature perception, restlessness
What are consequences of opiate drug addiction?
Opiate drug addiction leads to psychological and health problems that become acute in due course and may result in death. Psychological changes gradually turns into mental illness and affect the lifestyle and relations. Physical changes in opiate drug addicts lead to deterioration in health and fitness. An addiction to opiates has the potential to cause job loss, divorce, sexual abuse and financial ruin. Mental disturbance and lack of alertness may result in accidents, incarceration, homelessness and domestic violence. Addicts are at the increased risk of developing bleeding ulcers, damage to liver, kidney and brain that lead to coma and death.
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