How Should You Store And Dispose Of Opioids To Protect Family Members
If you are taking opioids, you are not the only one in your household who is in danger of misuse, addiction, and overdose. Other members of your household, including children, are also vulnerable. Hereâs how to protect them:
- Always store opioids in a safe and secure place. Do not leave prescription bottles in the medicine cabinet, and keep the medication away from others, particularly young children. Children sometimes confuse medications with candy and end up swallowing them, which can lead to overdose. Other family members and visitors could also find prescription medications in the house and use them inappropriately.
- Never share your prescriptions. More than half of people who misuse prescribed opioids get them from a friend or relative, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
- Donât throw unused opioids in the trash. Improper disposal of prescription medicines can lead to other people finding and taking them.
If you have leftover or expired prescription medications, follow these drug disposal tips:
Physician anesthesiologists are the most highly skilled medical experts in anesthesia care, pain management, and critical care medicine, with the education and training that can mean the difference between life and death.
Is Opioid Addiction A Disease
Opioid addiction is not simply like diseases such as pneumonia theres not a magic bullet that cures the person, like an antibiotic can cure pneumonia. We can think of opioid abuse as a medical illness that is governed by things inside of us and outside of us.
Medical conditions typically have a core defining feature. With drug abuse, we can think of the defining feature as the dysregulation of choice that is governed by things inside of us and outside of us . For example, think about eating there is a physical craving, but environmental queues can engage our choice to eat, even when we arent hungry.
When we talk about addiction or opioid use disorder, often people refer to a syndrome of symptoms. There is a syndrome of problematic use of the opioid. The syndrome has features, such as the person using the opioid is giving up other things in their life, and the use of the drug starts to impact them . They crave the drug, and the use of it starts to impact their whole life. Their life becomes organized around the use.
Helping Loved Ones With Prescription Drug Addictions
Prescription drug addiction can negatively affect your health. It can also put you at risk of a fatal overdose. Drug addiction can also put a strain on your finances and relationships.
Do you suspect that someone you love is misusing prescription medications? Its important for them to get professional help. Their doctor or mental health specialist might recommend counseling. They might also refer your loved one to an intensive rehabilitation program. In some cases, they might prescribe medications to help curb drug cravings or relieve symptoms of withdrawal.
If you suspect that someone you love has a prescription drug addiction, there are ways that you can help.
For more information on drug addiction, including potential treatment options, visit these websites:
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How Is Naltrexone Used To Treat Addiction
This medicine is very different and doesnt activate the opioid receptor the way that buprenorphine and methadone do, but instead blocks the euphoric/sedative effects of opioids. Your system must be completely free of all opioids before beginning naltrexone. It can be taken orally or as a once-a-month injection.
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What Are The Negative Effects Of Opioid Addiction
Opioid addiction has both long term and short term effects. Short term opiate effects include:
- 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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Common Opioids And Opiates
Opioid pain medications are prescribed mainly to treat moderate to severe pain. In many cases, opioids are prescribed following surgery or a medical procedure. In a recent study by The Recovery Village, participants reported using these common legal opioid drugs, some using more than one:
- Oxycodone: a semi-synthetic opioid that 68% reported using. Common brand names are Percocet and OxyContin.
- Hydrocodone: 56% reported using this semi-synthetic opioid, included in drugs like Lortab and Vicodin.
- Morphine: a highly addictive, naturally occurring substance found in the opium plant that 37% reported using.
- Codeine, a less powerful but still addictive substance, is primarily used as a cough suppressant. Codeine is typically prescribed as a combination medication, and 31% reported using this substance.
- Fentanylis a highly addictive opiate that is produced synthetically. Fentanyl is commonly prescribed as a transdermal patch but is also sold illegally. About 26% of participants reported using fentanyl.
Which Opiates Are Most Addictive
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The United States is facing a serious and very deadly epidemic in the form of opioid addiction. Opioids, which include opiates, are prescription or illicit drugs.
Opiates include heroin and morphine. These drugs work by impacting the reward center of the brain, which is how your body naturally controls pleasure and associated feelings. When you take opiates, the result is that it replicates your bodys natural, feel-good mechanisms and amplifies them. In very high doses, opioids tend to slow some of the central functions of the body, like the respiratory system.
Slowed breathing happens when someone overdoses on opiates: their brain shuts off the necessary functions of the body and, in severe cases, the person goes into a coma or dies.
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Origins Of Drug Liking
Many factors, both individual and environmental, influence whether a particular person who experiments with opioid drugs will continue taking them long enough to become dependent or addicted. For individuals who do continue, the opioids ability to provide intense feelings of pleasure is a critical reason.
When heroin, oxycodone, or any other opiate travels through the bloodstream to the brain, the chemicals attach to specialized proteins, called mu opioid receptors, on the surfaces of opiate-sensitive neurons . The linkage of these chemicals with the receptors triggers the same biochemical brain processes that reward people with feelings of pleasure when they engage in activities that promote basic life functions, such as eating and sex. Opioids are prescribed therapeutically to relieve pain, but when opioids activate these reward processes in the absence of significant pain, they can motivate repeated use of the drug simply for pleasure.
The Mesolimbic Reward System
When drugs stimulate mu opioid receptors in the brain, cells in the ventral tegmental area produce dopamine and release it into the nucleus accumbens , giving rise to feelings of pleasure. Feedback from the prefrontal cortex to the VTA helps us overcome drives to obtain pleasure through actions that may be unsafe or unwise, but this feedback appears to be compromised in individuals who become addicted to drugs. The locus ceruleus is an area of the brain that plays an important role in drug dependence.
The Appeal Of Opioid Drugs
Opioid drugs produce feelings of pleasure and euphoria that can be appealing. They can also literally block pain, which is incredibly helpful for those with chronic or very severe pain. Whether they are taken to escape mental or physical pain, or just to escape, the appeal would not be so great if people understood that opioids have many serious side effects like addiction and overdose. Perhaps people might realize this at a certain point along the path of addiction, but most likely by then they are already physically addicted.
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Heroin Changes Brain Chemistry
When a person uses heroin, the drug enters the blood stream and goes straight to the brain. Heroin affects the parts of the brain in charge of pleasure, depression, anxiety and sedation. Thats why people who use heroin feel happy and relaxed. They also stop feeling depressed or anxious.
The memory and motivation systems in the brain remember that heroin caused happiness, and they associate heroin with positive experiences. Memories of the positive experiences grow stronger each time a person uses heroin, and the brain becomes increasingly motivated to use the drug.
With prolonged use, heroin starts to disrupt parts of the brain in charge of self-control and judgment. Heroin addiction occurs because the brain is tricked into thinking the drug causes positive experiences. The brain issues cravings for the drug, and the parts of the brain in charge of self-control arent strong enough to overcome the cravings.
Can Use Of Prescription Opioids Lead To Addiction
Yes, repeated misuse of prescription opioids can lead to a substance use disorder , a medical illness which ranges from mild to severe and from temporary to chronic. Addiction is the most severe form of an SUD. An SUD develops when continued misuse of the drug changes the brain and causes health problems and failure to meet responsibilities at work, school, or home.
People addicted to an opioid medication who stop using the drug can have severe withdrawal symptoms that begin as early as a few hours after the drug was last taken. These symptoms include:
- muscle and bone pain
- cold flashes with goose bumps
- uncontrollable leg movements
- severe cravings
These symptoms can be extremely uncomfortable and are the reason many people find it so difficult to stop using opioids. There are medicines being developed to help with the withdrawal process, including lofexidine, a non-opioid medicine designed to reduce opioid withdrawal symptoms that was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2018. The FDA has also approved sale of a device, NSS-2 Bridge, that can help ease withdrawal symptoms. The NSS-2 Bridge is a small electrical nerve stimulator placed behind the persons ear, that can be used for up to five days during the acute withdrawal phase.
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What Are Some Possible Effects Of Prescription Opioids On The Brain And Body
In the short term, opioids can relieve pain and make people feel relaxed and happy. However, opioids can also have harmful effects, including:
- slowed breathing
Opioid misuse can cause slowed breathing, which can cause hypoxia, a condition that results when too little oxygen reaches the brain. Hypoxia can have short- and long-term psychological and neurological effects, including coma, permanent brain damage, or death. Researchers are also investigating the long-term effects of opioid addiction on the brain, including whether damage can be reversed.
Living With Opioid Addiction
The first step toward recovery is recognizing that you have a problem with opioids. If you think you are addicted to them, know that there is help for you. The first step in breaking addiction is realizing that you control your own behavior.
The following steps will help you fight your addiction:
- Commit to quitting. Take control of your behavior and commit to fighting your addictions.
- Get help from your doctor. They can be your biggest ally, even if youre trying to quit a drug they prescribed. Your doctor may be able to prescribe medicine that will help ease your cravings for the addictive drug. Talking with your doctor or a counselor about your problems and your drug use can be helpful, too.
- Get support. Certain organizations are dedicated to helping people who have addictions. They want you to succeed and will give you the tools and support you need to quit and move on with your life. Ask your family and friends for support, too.
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Risk Of Opioid Overdose
Because opioids are highly addictive, it is all too easy for individuals to accidentally take too much of the drug. In this case, they are at risk for an overdose, in which the bodys major organs, including the heart, lungs, and brain, stop functioning.
Signs and symptoms of an opioid overdose include:
- Confusion and difficulty speaking
- Lack of energy or exhaustion
- Slowed or stopped breathing
Its critical that anyone who witnesses the telltale signs of an overdose call 911 immediately. Many emergency medical crews now carry drugs such as naltrexone that can reverse opioid overdoses if administered quickly.
Effect Of Mental Health On Opioid Use
Opioid use is very common among people with mental health conditions.
About 16 percent of adults in the United States have a mental health condition, yet they receive more than half of all opioid prescriptions, according to a 2017 study.
People with depression are also 3.63 times as likely to misuse opioids, according to a 2018 study involving people with chronic pain.
More severe depression was associated with a higher risk of opioid misuse. When compared with study participants without depression, participants with severe depression were 14.66 times as likely to misuse opioids.
Having a mental health condition also increases your odds of using opioids long term. Adults with mood disorders are
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Tolerance Vs Dependence Vs Addiction
Long-term use of prescription opioids, even as prescribed by a doctor, can cause some people to develop a tolerance, which means that they need higher and/or more frequent doses of the drug to get the desired effects.
Drug dependence occurs with repeated use, causing the neurons to adapt so they only function normally in the presence of the drug. The absence of the drug causes several physiological reactions, ranging from mild in the case of caffeine, to potentially life threatening, such as with heroin. Some chronic pain patients are dependent on opioids and require medical support to stop taking the drug.
Drug addiction is a chronic disease characterized by compulsive, or uncontrollable, drug seeking and use despite harmful consequences and long-lasting changes in the brain. The changes can result in harmful behaviors by those who misuse drugs, whether prescription or illicit drugs.
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.
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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.
What Are The Risks Of Opioid Misuse
Opioids are powerful and addictive. Your brain wants more opioids over time, even if you think its a bad idea. The longer you use opioids, the less they seem to work. Its easy to feel like you should take more: Your body wants more of the drug to get the same level of pain relief. For some people, this becomes an addiction.
Someone addicted to opioids looks a lot like everyone else. A person with an addiction might be an honor-roll soccer player who started out with a prescription for opioids after knee surgery. Or it might be an office manager with chronic low back pain. Opioid addiction can happen to anyone, including the people you love the most. Dont overlook the signs of abuse. If you think someone might be misusing opioids, talk to them right away.
Its easy to overdose on opioids. One dose could kill you, even if its the exact same dose you took yesterday. Opioids slow your breathing. If you take too much, your breathing will stop and you can die. If you think someone is overdosing, you can give them Narcan, a drug that helps the person wake up.
Your body gets attached to opioids when you use them regularly or for a long time. This is called physical dependence. Your body doesnt feel good without the drug. If you try to stop, youll go through intense withdrawal. Many people who are dependent on opioids will become addicted.
“4 out of 5 cases of heroin addiction start with prescription medication.”
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