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How Opioid Addiction Occurs

November 24, 2022

How Opioid Addiction Occurs

America is currently a public health crisis on two fronts. One is the global COVID-19, but the other has been around for over a decade and reaching new levels of severity as a result of the pandemic. I am of course talking about sharp rise in opioid use we are currently encountering.

In a time of high stress and isolation, where people have been sheltering in place, losing their jobs and fretting over loved ones–many are resorting to drugs to feel better. Unfortunately, this also means a rise in drug addiction and overdoses. In times like these, knowing how opioid addiction occurs can help you stay safe and weather the storm.

How Opioid Addiction Occurs and the Symptoms of Opiate Use

So, what are the signs that somebody is an opioid user? If a loved one is abusing their medication, or has developed an addiction, here are some changes in behavior to look out for:

  • Poor hygiene
  • Bizarre sleeping patterns (always tired, rarely sleeps or sleeps at odd hours or in excessive amounts)
  • Stops exercising or practicing healthy behaviors
  • Poor finances
  • Comes in late to work or school or misses family obligations
  • Isolates themselves from others

The symptoms of opioid use, like the changes in behavior we just mentioned, stem from increased misuse and include:

  • Euphoria and numbing of the body when taking the drug (aka “the high”)
  • Drug cravings
  • Confusion
  • Insomnia
  • Chills
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea
  • Slowed Shallow breathing
  • Gastrointestinal problems (stomach pain, diarrhea or constipation)
  • Tremors

How Long Does It Take to Get Hooked on Opiates?

Opiates prescribed for medical use such as oxycodone, codeine, meperidine and fentanyl are regarded as opioids that are both effective painkillers and very addictive. Yet because these drugs are prescribed by doctors, there is a common belief that these drugs are far less addictive than say street drugs like heroin. This is unfortunately not the case.

Ideally, the role of any doctor prescribing painkillers is to monitor patients’ dosages and discourage misuse but there is still a chance that the person still develops an addiction. But how long does it take to get hooked on opioids?

According to Johns Hopkins, physical dependency can develop in as soon as two weeks. It can also occur more quickly and vigorously some based on factors such as:

  • Genetics – The inherited likelihood of developing an addiction or abusing drugs
  • Environmental – Living in an area with high crime, being in toxic relationships or having an unstable living situation
  • Psychological – Having mental disorders that are associated with a likelihood of developing an addiction such as personality disorders, bipolar disorders, adjustment disorders, anxiety and depression

Important Stats About Opioid Addiction and Drug Abuse Prevention

  • For the entire year of 2019, 9.7 people abused prescription painkillers.
  • From April 2020 to April 2021, 100,000 people have perished from opioid overdoses alone.
  • According to a SAMSA study from 2009, found that only 11% of American who need addiction treatment receive it.
  • There is research to suggest that the longer a person remains sober the lower the chances of relapse will be. One study found that those in the first year are 40-60% likely to relapse compared 15% after 5 years.

Important Stats about Opioid Addiction and Drug Abuse Prevention Treatment and Rehabilitation act

The Treatment and Rehabilitation Act (1973), the Americans with Disabilities Act (1990) and the
the Affordable Care Act (2010) provide bold protections for those suffering from drug addiction and mental illness.

If you are one of many that is concerned about how going to addiction treatment might affect your life prospects, you should know that the Treatment and Rehabilitation Act was designed to prevent discrimination by employers, the legal system and insurance providers. These laws recognize drug addiction as a disability treatable with rehabilitation and require most insurance plans to cover treatment as they would other procedures.

Symptoms of Opioid Withdrawal

Those who have been using for a long time and in large amounts should take caution and consider seeking the help of an inpatient detox program when getting clean.

Opioid withdrawal symptoms occur within the 24-hours after stopping; the onset usually coinciding with the next missed dose. Opioid withdrawal symptoms can range from minor to severe and include:

  • Anxiety and depression
  • Intense urges to use
  • Agitation and restlessness
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Excessive perspiration
  • Insomnia
  • Chills
  • tremors
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Rapid heartbeat

How Long Does It Take to Detox from Opioids?

There are a few different methods of cleansing the body of opioids such as inpatient detox, residential detox, and ultra-rapid detox. The main goal of these programs is to get clients though the height of opioid withdrawals.

With residential and inpatient detox programs, an individual is given access to medical care, nutritional support, and medications that will lessen the severity of the symptoms and help with opioid cravings. For those who do not need medical intervention, social detox programs can provide a safe relapse-free environment with psychological counseling.

Acute withdrawal symptoms for opioid dependency typically last between 3-7 days. This is why detox programs catering to individuals with opioid use disorder (OUD) tend to last a week. Another style of detox: rapid or ultra-rapid detox, offers patients the fastest way to detox from opiates but its methods and success are controversial.

Best Treatment Center for Opioid Addiction

The best treatment centers for opioid addiction can effectively utilize medications for opioid withdrawals in addition to providing their clients with several evidence-based therapeutic options, educational resources and opportunities for social development.

One common complaint people have about subpar addiction treatment centers, is the tendency to feel mistreated or alienated from staff. A great program is also one that prioritizes involvement by listening and taking their needs of their clients into consideration when establishing treatment plans and goals.

If you or a loved one is seeking information on addiction or mental health resources please call (888) 564-4780.

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