Monday, April 15, 2024

Why Are Opiates So Addictive

Understanding Prescription Drug Addiction

What causes opioid addiction, and why is it so tough to combat? – Mike Davis

Just because a doctor prescribes a pill doesnt mean that its safe for everyone. As the number of issued prescriptions rises, so do the rates of people misusing prescription drugs.

In a survey conducted in 2015, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found that 18.9 million Americans aged 12 and older misused prescription drugs in the past year. About 1 percent of Americans aged 12 and older had a prescription drug use disorder.

Drug addiction is a component of drug use disorder. Its a disease that can affect your brain and behavior, making it difficult to control your use of drugs. Some people become addicted to illicit recreational drugs, such as cocaine or heroin. However, its also possible to become addicted to medications that your doctor has prescribed. If you become addicted to a prescription drug, you may compulsively use it, even when it causes you harm.

Some prescription drugs are more addictive than others. Most addictive drugs affect your brains reward system by flooding it with dopamine. This results in a pleasurable high that can motivate you to take the drug again. Over time, you might become dependent on the drug to feel good or normal. You might also develop a tolerance to the drug. This can push you to take larger doses.

Read on to begin learning about prescription drugs that are commonly misused.

Opioid Tolerance Dependence And Withdrawal

From a clinical standpoint, opioid withdrawal is one of the most powerful factors driving opioid dependence and addictive behaviors. Treatment of the patients withdrawal symptoms is based on understanding how withdrawal is related to the brains adjustment to opioids.

Repeated exposure to escalating dosages of opioids alters the brain so that it functions more or less normally when the drugs are present and abnormally when they are not. Two clinically important results of this alteration are opioid tolerance and drug dependence . Withdrawal symptoms occur only in patients who have developed tolerance.

Opioid tolerance occurs because the brain cells that have opioid receptors on them gradually become less responsive to the opioid stimulation. For example, more opioid is needed to stimulate the VTA brain cells of the mesolimbic reward system to release the same amount of DA in the NAc. Therefore, more opioid is needed to produce pleasure comparable to that provided in previous drug-taking episodes.

The Neurobiological Basis of Dependence and Withdrawal

The locus ceruleus is an area of the brain that is critically involved in the production of opioid dependence and withdrawal. The diagrams show how opioid drugs affect processes in the LC that control the release of noradrenaline , a brain chemical that stimulates wakefulness, muscle tone, and respiration, among other functions.

Tramadol Addiction And Abuse Statistics


A study from 2005 found that 84% of patients who abused Tramadol in very high doses had seizures within 24 hours.

In 2013, 1.5 million people abused Painkillers such as Tramadol for the first time.


From 2012-2013, over 60 percent of people who used Painkillers like Tramadol got the drug from a friend or relative.

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Why Are Opioids So Addictive

Opioids work by blocking out pain and making you feel calm and happy, which can lead to a huge potential for abuse and addiction . The 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports that approximately 10 million Americans misuse opioid painkillers each year.

âHuman nature is to maximize pleasure and minimize pain,â addiction counselor Lin Sternlicht, LMHC, MA, EdM, tells WebMD Connect to Care. â Opioids are highly effective at doing so on a psychological and physiological basis.â The power of these addictive drugs lies in their ability to disrupt essential neurochemical systems in our bodies.

How Do People Get Addicted To Heroin

Opioid Addiction: Side Effects, Withdrawal and Getting Clean

When a person uses heroin, the drug enters the brain. There, it is converted into morphine, where it binds with the opioid receptors. This results in a surge of dopamine, which causes the user to experience sensations of euphoria. This is the high that keeps people coming back for more.

As the person continues to use heroin, their brains neurons adapt to the exposure. As time goes on, they start to only be able to function well when they have had the drug. If they do not get it, they will go into withdrawal and experience symptoms that are very hard to cope with.

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What Is Opiate Addiction

Addiction is the general term for an action that was originally pleasurable but has become something an individual cant live without. Drug addiction specifically involves intense cravings for substances and out-of-control use of that drug.

Anyone is at risk of developing a drug addiction if they decide to try particular substances. However, opiates are some of the most addictive substances on earth, with heroin taking the top spot for most addictive. Opiate addiction can, therefore, be triggered by the first-time use of an opiate drug.

The reason opiates are so addictive is that they trigger endorphins, which numb pain and increase pleasure, although this effect eventually wears off and leads to a crash, leaving the brain craving that feeling of well-being. Opiate addiction is a chronic brain condition that can lead to social, financial and health concerns.

Pharmacological Interventions And Treatment Implications

In summary, the various biological models of drug addiction are complementary and broadly applicable to chemical addictions. Long-term pharmacotherapies for opioid dependence and addiction counteract or reverse the abnormalities underlying those conditions, thereby enhancing programs of psychological rehabilitation. Short-term treatments for relieving withdrawal symptoms and increasing abstinence are beyond the scope of this article instead, we refer readers elsewhere for detailed neurobiological explanations of the various nonopioid-based abstinence initiation approaches such as clonidine and clonidine-naltrex-one for rapid detoxification .

The medications most commonly used to treat opioid abuse attach to the brain cells mu opioid receptors, like the addictive opioids themselves. Methadone and LAAM stimulate the cells much as the illicit opioids do, but they have different effects because of their different durations of action. Naltrexone and buprenorphine stimulate the cells in ways quite distinct from the addictive opioids. Each medication can play a role in comprehensive treatment for opioid addiction.

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Find The Help That You Or Your Loved One Needs For Opioid Or Opiate Addiction

With the stigma still surrounding opioid addiction, many people avoid going to treatment and end up endangering themselves. At The Recovery Village, we believe there is no shame in having an addiction to opioids or any other substance. Addiction is a disease, and like any disease, it requires medical care and attention. With the right course of action, including detoxification, treatment plans, and supervision from qualified staff, you can put opioid addiction in the past and lead a happy and successful life. There is no better time to seek treatment than now contact us today to learn more.

Opioid Addiction From A Dcs Perspective

Why are opioids so addictive?

Two researchersThomas R. Kosten, MD and Tony P. George, MDwith connections to Yale University School of Medicine, VA Connecticut Healthcare System, and Connecticut Mental Health Center set out to answer both of these questions via an article published in Addiction Science & Clinical Practice. First, Kosten and George indicate that fully understanding opioid addiction can be invaluable to the clinician because it enables you as a healthcare provider to better understand why a patient is behaving a certain way.

Knowing more about this particular addiction also allows you to create a more realistic treatment program by taking the patients addiction into account. This can be very beneficial, especially if the patient is experiencing a lot of musculoskeletal pain, thus the reason he or she may be taking the opioid to begin with. So what lies behind the addiction?

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Is Help For Opiate Addiction Possible

Yes, treatment for opiate addiction is possible. Typically it starts with medically assisted detox that helps you get through the worst of the withdrawal period safely and as comfortably as possible. Other common treatment methods used for opiate addiction include cognitive behavioral therapy, education, and promotion of lifestyle changes and the development of a long-term sober support system.

For more information on how you can break out of the cycle of opiate or opioid addiction, contact us at New Day Recovery today.

Tramadol Effects And Abuse

Tramadol is often prescribed because it has less addictive potential than other Opioid Painkillers. While most Painkillers are Schedule II substances under the Controlled Substances Act, Tramadol is a Schedule IV substance.

Tramadol is abused for its calming and euphoric effects. People who abuse Tramadol usually feel relaxed and happy. People with severe pain may also take higher doses of the drug, which puts them at higher risks of serious side effects, including seizures and respiratory depression.

Frequent Tramadol users may become addicted and graduate to harder Painkillers or illicit drugs to satisfy their cravings.

As a Central Nervous System Depressant, Tramadol slows down lung and heart function. Those who take very large doses of Tramadol can stop breathing altogether and may experience a fatal overdose. Symptoms of Tramadol overdose can include:

  • Sleepiness

The risk of developing an addiction to Tramadol is higher when the drug is taken with other substances. As a CNS Depressant, it can be very dangerous to mix Tramadol with other CNS Depressants, like alcohol, Opioids, and Sedative Hypnotics. Mixing these substances can lead to respiratory depression. It also increases the risk of seizure or overdose.

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How Can A Heroin Overdose Be Treated

Naloxone is a medicine that can treat an opioid overdose when given right away. It works by rapidly binding to opioid receptors and blocking the effects of heroin and other opioid drugs. Sometimes more than one dose may be needed to help a person start breathing again, which is why its important to get the person to an emergency department or a doctor to receive additional support if needed. Read more in the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administrations Opioid Overdose Prevention Toolkit.

Naloxone is available as an injectable solution and nasal sprays . Friends, family, and others in the community can use the nasal spray versions of naloxone to save someone who is overdosing.

The rising number of opioid overdose deaths has led to an increase in public health efforts to make naloxone available to at-risk persons and their families, as well as first responders and others in the community. Some states have passed laws that allow pharmacists to dispense naloxone without a prescription from a persons personal doctor.

Read more about naloxone in Naloxone DrugFacts.

What Are The Negative Effects Of Opioid Addiction

Subutex: This Opioid Replacement Therapy is Highly ...

Opioid addiction has both long term and short term effects. Short term opiate effects include:

  • Vomiting
  • Constricted pinpoint pupils
  • Loss of consciousness

Because opiates cause delayed reaction times, many states have imposed strict laws against drivers who take to the road after using the drugs.

The long term effects of opiate addiction include:

  • Weakened immune systems
  • Gastric problems such as constipation or bowel perforation
  • Severe respiratory depression

In cases of severe addiction, opioids do cause death. In fact, the CDC estimates that every day, 91 peopledie from opioid overdose . The New York Times estimates thatmore people die from opioid related complications than from any other drug.

How long a person stays before becoming an addict of opioids is relative. However, once dependence is established, stopping becomes very difficult. In fact, the person can suffer severe withdrawal symptoms if he/she stays long without consuming the drug.

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Is It Dangerous To Quit Heroin Cold Turkey

It can be very dangerous to stop using heroin cold turkey. That is because the withdrawal symptoms people experience can be extremely hard to manage. Once a person stops using heroin, their tolerance for the drug changes almost immediately. As they continue to abstain, they require less of the drug in order to get high.

The problem is that a lot of people do not realize this is happening. If they end up relapsing, they will typically go back to taking the same amount they used before they quit. This can result in an overdose, which can be fatal unless they get medical help right away.

How Opioid Addiction Happens

Opiates are highly addictive drugs, making addiction a very real possibility. When a person takes an opioid or opiate, the drug enters the brain through the bloodstream and creates a flood of artificial endorphins and dopamine. These are neurotransmitters responsible for feelings of reward, pleasure and satisfaction, and the opioids effect on them creates a rush of euphoria. Because the high is unlike any naturally-occurring rush of dopamine or endorphins, the only way a person can experience it again is by using the drug again.

After repeated use, however, the brain will reduce its ability to create dopamine and endorphins naturally. As a result, a person may only be able to experience these feelings again when they use opioids. Because of the strong and desirable feelings that flood the brain, and because they may no longer feel pleasure naturally, they may crave an opioid high. People choose to abuse opioids to lessen their pain and continue experiencing these euphoric feelings on demand. This is one of the main reasons opioids are highly addictive.

There are several steps to developing an opioid addiction. These include:

  • Tolerance: When a person has to use increasingly larger doses of opioids to experience the same high
  • Physical dependence: When the body would enter withdrawal if the person stops taking the drug
  • Psychological addiction: Mental cravings for opioids set in, leading to addictive behaviors.


  • Purple or blue fingernails and lips
  • Losing consciousness
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    Treatment For Heroin Addiction

    While heroin addiction is critical, it is treatable. If someone is overdosing on heroin, an injection of naloxone can be administered to reduce the effects. Naloxone can save peoples lives. However, people need to seek treatment when they are addicted to heroin.

    The treatment of heroin addiction may require people to complete heroin detox through a medically supervised detoxification where medical professionals will monitor them and work to reduce some of the withdrawal symptoms.

    After someone has detoxed from heroin, they will undergo focused treatment heroin addiction treatment.

    With treatment, individuals can conquer their addictions to heroin.

    Being surrounded by a supportive and trusted staff can make all the difference in recovery.

    Contact SpringBoard Recovery today to receive help if you or a loved one is addicted to heroin.

    A variety of effective treatments are available for heroin use disorder, including both behavioral and pharmacological . Both approaches help to restore a degree of normalcy to brain function and behavior, resulting in increased employment rates and lower risk of HIV and other diseases and criminal behavior.

    Although behavioral and pharmacologic treatments can be extremely useful when utilized alone, research shows that for many people, integrating both types of treatments is the most effective approach.

    Planning involves coming up with a treatment plan that is tailored to your needs and desires.

    But What Makes Hydrocodone So Addictive

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    Hydrocodone changes the way the brain functions. The drug alters the balance of chemicals in the brain and creates ongoing cravings that are difficult to overcome without professional treatment. Essentially, the drug stops the natural production of positive feelings, so when a person no longer takes hydrocodone, he feels anxious and depressed and experiences physical withdrawal symptoms. At this point, according to an article at, many people rely on hydrocodone to avoid bad feelings, instead of using it just for a euphoric effect.

    As an opioid, hydrocodone blocks sensations of pain and causes sedation or euphoria as it binds to opioid receptor cells in the brain. In its molecular structure, the drug is closely related to morphine, a powerful analgesic that occurs naturally in the opium poppy. Someone who takes hydrocodone quickly converts the drug to a form that provides a rush of pleasure and profound relaxation. Studies by the NIDA show these pleasurable feelings bring users back to heroin again and again, in spite of its dangerous side effects.

    Hydrocodone addiction isnt a reflection of a persons character or willpower. Instead, its an indication of the power of a drug that interferes directly with the way a persons brain experiences pain and pleasure. Recovering from hydrocodone addiction requires changing the way a person experiences the drug physically and psychologically

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    What Causes Opioid Addiction

    Opioid drugs alter your brain by creating artificial endorphins. Besides blocking pain, these endorphins make you feel good. Too much opioid use can cause your brain to rely on these artificial endorphins. Once your brain does this, it can even stop producing its own endorphins. The longer you use opioids, the more likely this is to happen. You also will need more opioids over time because of drug tolerance.

    Drug tolerance is when your body, over time, gets used to the effects of a drug. As this happens, you may need to take a higher dose of the drug to get the same effect. When you take opioids over time, you need a higher dose to get the same pain relief.

    If you stop using an opioid for a period of time, your tolerance will begin to fade. If you need to begin taking it again, you most likely will not need your former higher dose. That can be too much for the body to take. If you stop taking a medication, and then resume, talk to your doctor about dosage.

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