Addiction to pain pills currently affects over two million Americans, and the numbers are growing.
The main medical purpose of opioids is to relieve pain. They work to diminish the effects of painful stimulus in the brain by targeting brain receptors and altering emotions. What you may not know, is that opioids target the same brain receptors as heroin, causing temporary euphoria. As such, the risk of opioid addiction is very real.
What Are Opioids?
Opioids are synthetic opiates. Opiates, which are chemicals derived from opium, include heroin and other drugs. Common medications that fall within the classification of opioids include:
- Oxycodone – OxyContin, Percocet
- Hydrocodone – Vicodin, Lortab
- Morphine – Kadian, Avinza
- Meperidine – Demerol
- Codeine and Diphenoxylate (Lomotil)
Hydrocodone products are the most commonly prescribed for general pain. If you’ve ever had a tooth pulled at the dentist or were recovering from a broken bone, you may have been prescribed hydrocodone. Codeine is often prescribed for mild pain and is one of the ingredients in some prescription cough medicines.
The fact that opioids are routinely prescribed by a variety of doctors, dentists and other medical professionals can lead to some misinformation or myths surrounding the seriousness of opioid use, especially when it comes to the very real possibility of drug addiction.
Myth #1: As Long As It’s Prescribed, It’s Safe
Current consensus by medical professionals, as reported by Harvard Health, is that prescribing opioids for chronic pain caused by cancer or during end of life is both appropriate and humane. On the other hand, the use of opioids to treat general conditions such as a toothache, migraines, arthritis or back pain is highly controversial and can lead to opioid addiction. Just because it’s prescribed to you or someone you love, does not mean you won’t become addicted.
According to estimates reported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, over two million people in the United States currently suffer from substance use disorders directly related to prescription painkillers.
Myth #2: Taking Prescription Opioids Isn’t Connected to Heroin Use
Both opioids and heroin affect the same part of the brain and bind with the same group of receptors. One is derived from natural substances and the other is synthetically produced.
According to JAMA (The Journal of the American Medical Association) today’s typical heroin addict started using heroin in his or her early twenties, lives in the suburbs and was unwittingly led to heroin after withdrawing from opioids prescribed by his or her doctor. It is a very common picture for young professionals to find themselves progressing from that first prescription to “doctor shopping” for additional prescriptions, and, finally after a tolerance builds, they find themselves in a desperate situation of either buying opioids illegally or turning to heroin.
Myth #3: I Can Stop Using Opioid Painkillers Whenever I Want
This is one of the most common lies addicts tell themselves. Opioid dependence is marked by extremely strong cravings, which are difficult to manage by yourself. It’s more than a matter of willpower. Whether you or someone you love has progressed to heroin use, or you are asking yourself, “How do I stop taking Oxycodone, Vicodin or another painkiller?” there is help. Opioid addiction is a treatable medical condition. There is no reason to go it alone.
Opioid Addiction is Real, but so is Recovery
More than simply “getting clean,” a treatment plan can get to the root of why the individual became addicted in the first place and treat the core of the problem, not just the symptoms.
The Shores Treatment and Recovery is a drug rehab center that treats clients with dignity and respect. Our addiction treatment program is covered by most insurance and our individualized treatment plans allow you to return to your family, work, and daily life as quickly as possible. You don’t have to go through it alone.