Opioids are their own class of drugs that are naturally found within the opioid poppy plant. They work by attaching to a protein called opioid receptors that are located in the spinal cord, the brain, the gut, and other parts of the body. When they are attached, the opioid drug will block pain messages sent through the body to the brain. This effectively relieves pain in the body. While they are very effective, they also carry a lot of risks, the biggest being addiction to the opioid. Opioids also cause a very relaxed, numbing, and euphoric high that is highly sought after.
How Does Opioid Addiction Happen?
Addiction can occur before you know it. Opioids are actually one of the most addictive kinds of drugs out there and the United States is currently dealing with an opioid epidemic. Death due to opioids is at an all-time high. According to NIH, in just 2019 alone, almost 50,000 people in our country died from an opioid-related overdose. We can help the fight against the opioid epidemic by knowing a few things about its addiction. Here are a few things you should know.
1. Addiction is Not A Choice While abusing the drugs is a choice, after all, no one forced you to take them, addiction to the drugs is not a choice. Addictions themselves are a disturbance within the brain’s chemistry that is brought on by the misuse of opioids. When an opioid is taken, it activates the brain’s reward center causing a release of dopamine. That is responsible for feelings of satisfaction and pleasure. The dopamine also triggers the brain to make a memory that associated those good feelings with what caused it. Once the brain has gotten used to having the opioids in its system, it no longer knows how to function properly without it and causes withdrawal symptoms. This turns into a vicious cycle and is how addiction happens.
2. Anyone is at Risk of an Opioid Addiction Addiction does not discriminate no matter your race, religion, social status, or gender. It is an equal opportunity that causes affliction. No one is immune to the disease that is addiction. It is still pretty unclear why some people are more susceptible than other people. There is some speculation that it can run in families. Either way, do not pretend to think you will not become addicted.
3. Opioid Addiction and Mental Health Disorders Addiction itself is a very complex disease, and it is often co-occurring with other mental health problems like anxiety, depression, PTSD, ADHD, traumas, and many others. Those who suffer from a mental health disorder are much more likely to abuse drugs than someone without them. Many people go undiagnosed and without any treatment for years, while opioid addiction rips their life apart.
4. Sobriety is a Marathon, Not a Sprint Those who are not dealing with addiction can be difficult to understand when people with an addiction can just quit. It’s hard for their family and friends to watch them throw everything away over and over again. Because of the complexity of the disease and its long-term effects on the brain, relapse is very common. Recovery does not happen overnight, and it requires a lot of trial and error.
5. Effective Treatment is Available to you Treatment for opioid addiction starts with a medically assisted detox. After that, we recommend you participate in intense treatment to get to the root of your addiction. However, there is help out there for anyone, and you can know the gifts of sobriety if you want it.