Addiction to prescription opioids is particularly dangerous, the stats speak for themselves. Finding yourself or a loved one unable to break the hold of an opioid habit can lead to a spiraling down into the illicit world of heroin. What starts as pain relief morphing into an all-consuming and utterly brutal addiction.
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An Introduction to Opioid Addiction
Overprescribed, over marketed and underestimated. Prescription opioids have destroyed so many lives over the years and wreaked havoc across the nation. The pain they were meant to erase instead being spread to friends and family after addiction takes hold or an unintended overdose leads to an early death. Magnifying the anguish in that sense.
It’s gotten to the point that the words “opioid” and “epidemic” have been permanently linked. You can’t say one without the other. Why?
- Around 130 people die from opioid-related overdoses, 41 of them from prescription opioids daily
- 10.3 million people misused prescription opioids in 2018
- In 2017, 1.7 million people were suffering from a substance use disorder (SUD) related to prescription opioids
- 2 out of 3 overdose deaths involve an opioid with more than 760,000 overdose deaths since 1999
- Overdose deaths involving opioids, including prescription opioids, heroin, and synthetic opioids (like fentanyl), have increased almost six times since 1999
- Between 1999 and 2016, the pediatric mortality rate for opioid poisoning increased almost 3 times
That last one arguably the most haunting because it means the tsunami of misery isn’t just relegated to the world of adults though.
It’s gotten so bad that in 2017 the Department of Health and Human Services declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency.
Prescription opioids require a prescription, that’s stating the obvious but for a reason. After a prescription has been filled and used, the prescribing doctor may no longer deem it necessary to write for more opioids, what happens then?
You’re already hooked but your supply is cut off.
Heroin, an illegal opioid, can be found on the street and will satisfy your cravings.
Per the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), for those who began abusing opioids in the 2000s, 75% said that their first opioid was a prescription drug and 80% of heroin users reported taking prescription opioids before heroin.
For all the grief they’ve wrought then, what is the point of prescribing opioids? We’ve lost it in the sea of distress caused by addiction but opioids, when used strictly as directed and for a short period of time, are remarkably effective at what they’re tasked with doing. Namely, that’s reducing moderate to severe pain.
You’ve no doubt heard of the most commonly prescribed ones, with brand names like OxyContin, Vicodin, Percocet as well as morphine, codeine and the synthetic opioid, fentanyl. These drugs really do work wonders for a great many people.
NIDA summarizes well how they work and what makes them so addictive:
Opioids bind to and activate opioid receptors on cells located in many areas of the brain, spinal cord, and other organs in the body, especially those involved in feelings of pain and pleasure. When opioids attach to these receptors, they block pain signals sent from the brain to the body and release large amounts of dopamine throughout the body. This release can strongly reinforce the act of taking the drug, making the user want to repeat the experience.
To put it a bit differently, they are a central nervous system depressant that produce intense euphoria in addition to the relief of pain and that acts as a powerful reinforcement mechanism.
What is opioid addiction then?
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What Are the Signs of Prescription Opioids Addiction?
Addiction to prescription opioids is particularly dangerous, the stats speak for themselves.
Finding yourself or a loved one unable to break the hold of an opioid habit can lead to a spiraling down into the illicit world of heroin. What starts as pain relief morphing into an all-consuming and utterly brutal addiction.
Opioid use disorder, as it’s officially known, affects over 2.1 million people in the United States and the signs and symptoms of opioid addiction to keep an eye out for are as follows:
- Using for a longer period of time or more than planned
- Can’t cut back or quit despite trying to in earnest
- Intense cravings
- Inordinate time spent obtaining, taking or recovering from opioid use
- No longer fulfilling responsibilities are work, school or home
- Losing interest in activities once considered enjoyable in order to use
- Continuing to use in spite of clearly worsening physical or psychological state
- Opioid use leading to issues with family and friends
- Developing a tolerance and needing to take more to achieve the same feeling or high
- Using in dangerous situations
- Depleting a prescription for opioids early
- Borrowing other people’s medication
- “Losing” meds so you can get another prescription
- Seeing multiple doctors to write additional opioid prescriptions
- Taking them other than how prescribed or when not in pain as a “just in case”
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when discontinue using
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At Thrive Treatment℠ we accept most private insurance plans and we are in network with Cigna, MHN Health Net, First Health, and Anthem Blue Cross. Additional payment options are available so don’t hesitate to give us a call so we can get you the help that you need.
What Are the Signs of Cocaine Addiction?
Whether it’s you or a loved one that has problematic usage, in moments of clarity the question of “am I addicted to cocaine?” has no doubt crept in. Recognizing what cocaine abuse and addiction look like is the preliminary step in moving towards getting cocaine addiction help because you can’t solve a problem unless you’re able to name and understand it.
Things to look out for that would clue you in on a problem are:
- Being awake for extended periods of time, sleep patterns drastically altered
- Dilated pupils
- White powder on nostrils or around the mouth (if taken orally or nasally)
- Burn marks on hands or lips (if being smoked)
- Overly confident, excited and/or energetic
- Loss of appetite
- Mood swings and irritability
- Overly talkative
- Financial issues
- Unable to maintain work, school, home or family responsibilities
- Resorting to criminal behavior to get money for cocaine
- Spending more and more time focused on getting and doing cocaine
- Building a tolerance and needing ever-larger amounts of cocaine to achieve the same high
- Losing interest in once pleasurable and enjoyable activities
- Increasingly risky and reckless behavior
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not using
They don’t sneak up on you, symptoms of cocaine addiction – and addiction in general – are often happening right in front of your eyes. You just need to be able to call a spade a spade. Additionally, there are long term health issues that build up related to the specific ways in which cocaine is consumed:
- If Snorting – Constantly running nose, nosebleeds, loss of smell, problems swallowing, nasal septum perforation.
- If Smoking – Respiratory issues and general distress, asthma, elevated risk of pneumonia and the like.
- If Taking Orally – Intestinal problems like bowel decay from reduced blood flow and potentially life-threatening issues like gangrene of the bowel.
- If Injecting – The risk for contracting bloodborne diseases increases dramatically the longer you are taking drugs via injection, which includes elevated risk for HIV, hep C and more as well as skin infections and destruction of veins.
Prescription Opioid Withdrawal
Opioids are powerful and as such they pack an equally immense punch when you come off them.
The withdrawal symptoms are more severe the longer you’ve used because your body has grown increasingly more dependent on the drugs to function. They generally start within 24 hours of your last dose and include:
- Excessive sweating
- Muscle aches
- Abdominal cramping
- Rapid heart rate
- Elevated blood pressure
- Pupil dilation
- Nausea and vomiting
Withdrawal symptoms typically peak around 3 days after the last time you took opioids and can linger for over a week.
Trying to quit cold turkey, or abruptly stopping, only makes those symptoms more intense and in turn more likely for you or a loved one to avoid the discomfort by using again. It’s therefore recommended to go through withdrawal and detox under the supervision of medical professionals who can help alleviate the worst of the symptoms by either assisting you in tapering off your opioid use slowly or giving you medication like methadone, buprenorphine, naltrexone or naloxone to help manage the withdrawal.
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Thrive Treatment's Prescription Opioid Treatment in Los Angeles Can Help
While the scourge of the epidemic continues, the good news is that there are opioid addiction solutions.
Beating an addiction to opioids is hard, let’s call a spade a spade. What makes it even harder is trying to do it all on your own. From the detox and the accompanying withdrawal symptoms to righting your mental state, it’s a herculean task to take on by yourself.
Opioid treatment in Los Angeles is about taking that burden off your shoulders.
At Thrive Treatment our team of certified doctors and addiction specialists as well as our compassionate clinical staff are here to support your recovery fully. Through a combination of treatment techniques and modalities, we help you create a sobriety you can truly sustain. In group and individual therapy sessions we work with you to uncover any underlying causes of addiction, develop healthy coping mechanisms for the future and impart the importance of self-care.
Being addicted to something that was supposed to help you is especially brutal and cruel. Know that you or your loved ones are not alone though, reach out to us at Thrive Treatment to learn more about treatment for prescription opioid addiction.