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How Long Until You Are Dependent on Opioids?

Opioids were first introduced and used in the United States in the early 1860s. Wounded soldiers were treated with morphine, and many of them developed a dependence and then addiction to the drug years following the war. Then in 1898, heroin was first introduced by the Bayer Company, claiming it was less addictive than morphine. During the 1910s-1920s, restrictions were placed on narcotics and opioids in the US, requiring a formal prescription to be written. At this time, heroin was outlawed. In the 1970s, the Controlled Substances Act was passed, dividing groups into groups based on the likelihood of abuse. Regulations were also imposed depending on the class. Then came 1995, and the introduction of OxyContin by Purdue Pharma. Oxy was advertised as a less-addictive opioid and one that was much gentler.

Opioid Addiction Statistics Overview

In 2019, an estimated 10.1 million people 12 and older misused opioids. As a result, today, more than 2 million Americans will suffer from an addiction to prescription or illicit opioids. Opioids are responsible for too many deaths in this country. From April 2020 to 2021, about 75,673 died from opioid overdoses. This number increased from 56,064 just the year prior. Most of these deaths were related to Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid 100 times more powerful than morphine.

Why Opioid Dependence Matters

Dependence on opioids can happen after just five days of taking the drug. Opioids are some of the strongest medications on the planet. They trigger the release of endorphins or dopamine, the brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters. This silences a person’s perception of pain and increases feelings of pleasure. The National Institute of Health’s “The Neurobiology of Opioid Dependence: Implications for Treatment” says the following about the addiction to opiates:

Particularly in the early stages of abuse, the opioid’s stimulation of the brain’s reward system is a primary reason some people repeatedly take drugs. However, the compulsion to use opioids builds overtime to extend beyond a simple drive for pleasure. This increased compulsion is related to tolerance and dependence. (NIH)

What may start as a legit need for the opioid pain medication, say after an injury or surgery, leads to the person taking the medication to achieve that increased sense of well-being and pleasure?

Opioid Addiction is Dangerous

Opioid addiction can happen quickly for some individuals and more slowly for others. Addiction to opioids depends on several factors.

  • Personal factors such as weight, age, and mental and medical history
  • The type of opioid. For instance, heroin is one of the most addictive drugs on earth. Prescription opioids aren’t much past it, but heroin is on a completely different level
  • Whether you use the medication correctly or are misusing it

Psychological addiction to opioids can happen in just a few days, especially if it is misused. Physical addiction can take much longer, but it does depend on the factors listed above.

Professional Help For Opioid Dependence

Taking an opioid for three days or less can lower your chances of developing a dependence. If you were prescribed an opioid and think you may be or have developed a dependence, reach out for help immediately. The quicker you get help, the less likely you will become addicted to the drug.

Recovery For Opioid Addiction

Are you ready to speak to an addiction professional about treatment options? Evoke Wellness at Cohasset offers evidence-based treatment programs to cater to each patient’s individual needs. We offer a personalized treatment experience for each of our clients. Evoke Wellness at Cohasset provides comprehensive, integrated care for men, women, and families. Our solution-focused addiction treatment will lead you on the road to long-lasting recovery. At Evoke Wellness at Cohasset, our team of compassionate and understanding addiction specialists is available 24/7 to assist you with your treatment needs. Choose recovery over substance abuse and reach out for professional help now.