Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Why Are Pain Pills So Addictive

But What Makes Hydrocodone So Addictive

Why Are Opioids So Addictive?

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 PsychCentral.com, 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

Why Are Pain Pills So Addictive

If you have a problem with prescription-based pain pills, you should know that you are not alone. And this is substantiated by multiple studies that have examined addiction involving pain pills in the U.S. In a 2017 study published by the National Institute on Drug Abuse , the most recent and relevant data available, researchers revealed that an estimated 2 million Americans misused prescription pain relievers.

While we are on the topic, it is important to note that opioids were the ones that many admitted to misusing or abusing the most. It is also the prescription pain reliever that has led and continues to lead many people down the path of addiction.

Another study from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, published in 2019, revealed that opioids were responsible for over 50,000 overdose-related deaths. It further went on to note that opioid addiction alone is costing the country some $79 billion annually in terms of the following:

  • Healthcare costs
  • Court costs

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 To Beat Addiction To Painkillers

Painkillers are powerful pain-relieving drugs that can come in lots of forms. These include illegal painkillers such as heroin, and prescription painkillers such as fentanyl and codeine. People often start taking illegal painkillers as a result of curiosity, peer pressure or as unhealthy coping mechanisms, whereas prescription painkillers are usually prescribed by a medical professional to provide pain relief after an injury or an operation. However, its still possible for people to acquire prescription drugs illegally.

Whether youre taking illegal or legal painkillers, these drugs can be very addictive and can lead to dependency. In this blog, we explore why painkillers are so addictive, outline the symptoms of painkiller addiction to look out for, and provide tips on how you can beat your addiction to painkillers.

Factors That Influence Opioid Addiction Risk

What Is Opioid Addiction and Why Are Opioids so Addictive ...

Some people will experience the signs of addiction very quickly, while others using the drug similarly will not. It seems that several risk factors increase the occurrence of opioid addiction. They include:

  • Using substances over the long term
  • Beginning to use substances from a young age
  • Poverty
  • Unemployment or poor work history
  • Substance abuse among family members
  • Stressful or traumatic life experiences
  • Chaotic or dangerous environment

A person who experiences more risk factors will be in increased danger of developing an opioid use disorder or addiction, but not having these added risk factors does not exclude a person from possibly gaining an opioid addiction.

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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.

A Culture Of Medication

Some Americans, says Professor Keith Humphreys from Stanford University, believe that life is “fixable”.

“I’m 51,” he says. “If I go to an American doctor and say ‘Hey – I ran the marathon I used to run when I was 30, now I’m all sore, fix me’, my doctor will probably try to fix me.

“If you do that in France the doctor would say ‘It’s life, have a glass of wine – what do you want from me?'”

In 2016, a study compared how Japanese and American doctors prescribed opioids. It found that Japanese doctors treated acute pain with opioids in 47% of cases – compared to 97% in the US.

“There is obviously a willingness, and a habit, of giving opioid pain relief that is not shared elsewhere,” says Professor Feinberg.

“Other countries deal with pain in much healthier ways.”

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Prevention Of Opioid Overdose

Beyond approaches to reducing drug use in general in the community, there are specific measures to prevent opioid overdose. These include:

  • increasing the availability of opioid dependence treatment, including for those dependent on prescription opioids
  • reducing and preventing irrational or inappropriate opioid prescribing
  • monitoring opioid prescribing and dispensing and
  • limiting inappropriate over-the-counter sales of opioids.

The gap between recommendations and practice is significant. Only half of countries provide access to effective treatment options for opioid dependence and less than 10% of people worldwide in need of such treatment are receiving it.

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How Opioid Addiction Happens

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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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    Signs Of An Opioid Overdose

    Every year, thousands of deaths in the United States are attributed to opioid overdose. If you fear that someone has overdosed on opioids, call 9-1-1 right away. Signs that someone may have overdosed include:

    • Loss of consciousness
    • Slow and erratic pulse or no pulse
    • Irregular breathing or no breathing
    • Face is very pale and/or clammy
    • Pupils are constricted
    • Body is limp

    Outlook For Opioid Addiction

    Recovery from opioid addiction is a lifelong process. Relapse is a common and expected part of the disorder: four out of five opioid users report relapsing after starting their recovery. Experts agree that seeking professional treatment that matches a persons situation and staying in that treatment for the appropriate amount of time can significantly increase periods of sustained recovery. People who do not seek professional treatment or who do not finish treatment are at a much higher risk of future relapse. Thankfully, among the opioid rehab patients surveyed, 87% report finishing their first treatment program completely.

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    What Makes Opioids Addictive

    Opioids are dangerous in that anyone can become addicted to them. There is research that shows that with as little as three days of treatment, a person can be on the road to chronic overuse. It just takes a little of an opioid to cause a person to lose so much.

    Opioids bind to opioid receptors in the brain and on cells throughout the body. These cells are responsible for feeling pleasure and pain. When opioids attach to these receptors, they block pain signals being sent from the brain.

    The body then produces an enormous amount of dopamine that is sent throughout the body. This dopamine production reinforces the act of taking the drug. This makes a person want to repeat the experience of taking the drug, making it addictive.

    In the short term, opioids make people feel happy and relaxed. When overused, they can lead to confusion, euphoria, drowsiness, slowed breathing, and nausea. Misuse of opioids can lead to hypoxia, which could produce long-term or short-term effects. Researchers are studying whether the effects of addiction to opioids on the brain can be reversed. Prescription opioids and heroin share many similarities chemically and can produce the same high. Opioid addiction is a chronic disease. It causes an uncontrollable compulsive desire to get the drug. People who are addicted to opioids will strive to get the drug regardless of the negative consequences.

    How Pain Pills Work

    Prescription Painkillers Addiction and Recovery Information

    The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that about 54 million Americans have misused a prescription drug at least once in their lives. At the time of the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health , approximately 4.3 million American adults were considered to be currently abusing prescription painkillers.

    Taking these drugs, even as directed, can lead to physical and psychological dependence, as the brain gets used to the chemical changes incurred by their interference. When an opioid drug enters the brain, fills an opioid receptor, and depresses the central nervous system, it also increases the presence of dopamine and endorphins. Dopamine is one of the brains chemical messengers, or neurotransmitters, that signals feelings of pleasure. With repeated chemical interference, the brain may stop making and absorbing dopamine naturally, and brain chemistry may be negatively impacted. This is called drug dependence. When an opioid drug wears off, dopamine levels dip and both physical and emotional discomfort can occur.

    Opioid withdrawal can be difficult, and individuals may struggle to stop taking prescription painkillers as a result. A loss of control over dosage and the frequency of taking these drugs, and overall compulsive drug use, may result these are the hallmarks of addiction. According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine , 2 million Americans battled prescription opioid addiction in 2015.

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    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.

    What Is The Difference Between Drug Tolerance Dependence And Addiction

    Drug tolerance and dependence are a normal part of taking any opioid drug for a long time. You can be tolerant to, or dependent on, a drug and not yet be addicted to it.

    Addiction, however, is not normal. It is a disease. You are addicted to a drug when it seems that neither your body nor your mind can function without the drug. Addiction causes you to obsessively seek out the drug, even when the drug use causes behavior, health, or relationship problems.

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    Misuse And Abuse Of Opioids Is A National Epidemic

    Opioid is a term used to describe a variety of medications that work by interrupting pain signals to the brain and producing a pleasurable effect. Hydrocodone, oxycodone, fentanyl, morphine and codeine are all examples of opioids.

    Medications such as these provide almost immediate relief from pain symptomsbut they are so powerful and effective, the brain often responds by wanting more. This can lead to tolerancemeaning you need more of the drug to produce the same effect because the dosage you originally received is no longer enough to make you feel better. In some people, it can even lead to the desire for stronger drugs that produce good-feeling effects even faster.

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    Caution: These Are The Most Addictive Pain Meds

    Why Are Opioids So Addictive?

    97% of users don’t have a problem with opioids. Here’s how to avoid becoming part of the other 3%.

    The dangers of prescription painkiller addictions have been in the news for years, as abuse and overdose of the drugs has skyrocketed. The biggest offender is a class of drugs called opioids, such as oxycodone , hydrocodone , hydromorphone , and meperidine . If your doctor suggests that you try one of these medications to relieve pain, it is unlikely you will become addicted. But you must proceed with caution.

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    Purdue’s Need For A New Painkiller

    In this 1990 memo, Robert Kaiko, the scientist who would go on to help invent OxyContin, explains why Purdue needs another painkiller.

    Purdue already had developed a technique to stretch a drugs release over time. In MS Contin, the technique made morphine last eight to 12 hours. Kaiko and his colleagues decided to use it on an old, cheap narcotic, oxycodone.

    Sold under several names and formulations, including Percocet and Roxicodone, oxycodone controls pain for up to six hours.

    With the delayed-release technique, executives theorized, the drug would last 12 hours at least twice as long as generics and the high end of MS Contins range.

    Over the next decade, Purdue sunk more than $40 million into development of OxyContin, Paul D. Goldenheim,then-vice president of scientific and medical affairs, wrote in a 2003 court declaration.

    Sales and marketing representatives gathered at the companys headquarters, then in Norwalk, Conn., in March 1995 to start planning the roll-out of the new drug.

    OxyContin can cure the vulnerability of the … generic threat and that is why it is so crucial that we devote our fullest efforts now to a successful launch of OxyContin, then chief executive Michael Friedman told the group, according to minutes of the meeting.

    This prompted a letter from Purdues medical director.

    How Can You Avoid Addiction To Opioids

    If you or a loved one is considering taking opioids to manage pain, it is vital to talk to a physician anesthesiologist or other pain medicine specialist about using them safely and exploring alternative options if needed. Learn how to work with your physician anesthesiologist or another physician to use opioids more wisely and safely and explore what pain management alternatives might work for you.

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    Using Opioids For Nonmedical Reasons

    Abusing opioids to get high is a possible sign of pain-pill addiction. Not everyone who gets high on pain pills is addicted, but people who misuse the drugs on a regular basis may not be capable of controlling their desire to get high.

    Some people use drugs so often that theyre unable to get high. They become dependent on the drugs to feel normal and experience opioid withdrawal when they stop taking them. Using opioids to avoid withdrawal is a red flag for painkiller addiction.

    How Should You Respond To An Opioid Overdose

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    If you think someone may be experiencing an opioid overdose, take the following actions immediately:

  • Lightly tap, shake, and shout at the person to get a response. If you do not get a response, rub your knuckles on the personâs breastbone.
  • If the individual responds, keep the person awake.
  • If You Get Little or No Response

    If lightly tapping, shaking, and shouting at the person or rubbing your knuckles on the personâs breastbone do not elicit a response , take the following actions:

  • If breathing is shallow or nonexistent, or if the personâs skin color is blue and he or she has dark-colored lips, perform mouth-to-mouth rescue breathing by tilting the head back and lifting up the chin until the mouth opens, clearing the airway. Give two quick breaths to start and then a strong breath every 5 seconds.
  • If the person does not have a pulse or is not breathing, perform CPR. Push down repeatedly on the chest at a rate of 100 times per minute. Deliver rescue breaths after every 30 compressions.
  • While waiting for emergency responders, stay with the person. If you must leave the person alone or vomiting occurs, place the individual in recovery position â on the personâs side, with the opposite hand supporting the head, mouth facing to the side and down, and top leg on the floor to keep the person from rolling onto the stomach.
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