When The Prescription Becomes The Problem
- More than 191 million opioid prescriptions were dispensed to American patients in 2017with wide variation across states.1
- There is a wide variation of opioid prescription rates across states. Health care providers in the highest prescribing state, Alabama, wrote almost three times as many of these prescriptions per person as those in the lowest prescribing state, Hawaii.1
- Studies suggest that regional variation in use of prescription opioids cannot be explained by the underlying health status of the population.2
- The most common drugs involved in prescription opioid overdose deaths include:
- Hydrocodone 3
To reverse this epidemic, we need to improve the way we treat pain. We must prevent abuse, addiction, and overdose before they start.
Recovery Is Possible: Treatment For Opioid Addiction
Addiction is a medical condition. Treatment can help. Recovery is possible.
Opioid addiction, also known as opioid use disorder , is a chronic and relapsing disease that can affect anyone. In fact, millions of Americans suffer from opioid addiction.
As with most other chronic diseases, addiction is treatable. If you or someone you know is struggling, treatment is available. While no single treatment method is right for everyone, recovery is possible, and help is available for opioid addiction.
Preventing overdose death and finding treatment options are the first steps to recovery. Treatment may save a life and can help people struggling with opioid addiction get their lives back on track by allowing them to counteract addictions powerful effects on their brain and behavior. The overall goal of treatment is to return people to productive functioning in their family, workplace, and community.
Opioid addiction treatment can vary depending the patients individual needs, occur in a variety of settings, take many different forms, and last for varying lengths of time.
Evidence-based approaches to treating opioid addiction include medications and combining medications with behavioral therapy. A recovery plan that includes medication for opioid addiction increases the chance of success.
SAMHSAs National Helpline is a great resource to share with someone who may have a substance use disorder.
Call 1-800-662-HELP .
How Do People Misuse Prescription Opioids
Prescription opioids used for pain relief are generally safe when taken for a short time and as prescribed by a doctor, but they can be misused. People misuse prescription opioids by:
- taking the medicine in a way or dose other than prescribed
- taking someone else’s prescription medicine
- taking the medicine for the effect it causes-to get high
When misusing a prescription opioid, a person can swallow the medicine in its normal form. Sometimes people crush pills or open capsules, dissolve the powder in water, and inject the liquid into a vein. Some also snort the powder.
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Easy Access To Heroin Enables Use
Prescription opioids are more expensive and harder to access than heroin. Many people who become addicted to prescription opioids switch to heroin because its cheaper and easier to find on the street, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
About 80 percent of people who are addicted to heroin started by taking prescription opioid pills. Dr. Stephen Mudra, Chief, Primary Pain Management, North Florida/South Georgia Veteran Health System
For example, heroin usually costs between $5 and $10, but one OxyContin tablet can cost about $80 on the street.
Heroin availability has drastically increased in the past decade, according to the 2017 Drug Enforcement Administration National Drug Threat Assessment. The drugs availability also keeps the cost down.
Why Do Some People Become Addicted To Opioids While Other Do Not
There is no single factor that can accurately point to whether or not someone is predisposed to or will become addicted to opioids. The chance for opioid or any other addiction is influenced by an individuals social environment, biology and stage or age of development. The more risk factors someone possesses enhances the chance that exposure or prolonged exposure to opioids will lead to addiction. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the following are the three most important risk factors:
A persons genetics combined with their environmental influences make up about half of what is known as addiction vulnerability. Also, ethnicity, gender and other psychological disorders can influence a persons risk for opioid addiction.
There are many different influences included in a persons environment. The following are a list of environmental factors that can be a big influence in the course of opioid abuse and addiction in someones life if there is a great deal of negativity in these factors:
- Family and friends
- Any physical or sexual abuse
- Parental involvement
- Enabling physician or one that over-medicates
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Take Our Substance Abuse Self
Take our free, 5-minute substance abuse self-assessment below if you think you or someone you love might be struggling with substance abuse. The evaluation consists of 11 yes or no questions that are intended to be used as an informational tool to assess the severity and probability of a substance use disorder. The test is free, confidential, and no personal information is needed to receive the result.
What You Need To Know About Opiate Addiction
Some opiates create over 100 times more endorphins than the body would naturally. Imagine the impact this has on the brain and relevant nerve cells. When the brain shuts down endorphin production because of opiate use, the addictive nature becomes clear: there is no other way to compensate for the lost endorphins except to take more and more of the opiate in question.
This is the vicious cycle of opiate addiction.
What happens when an opiate addict stop taking the drugs they have been abusing? Withdrawal symptoms occur almost immediately and can include: stress, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, depression, restlessness, lack of sleep and other debilitating effects. Because of the potentially serious nature of withdrawal and the likelihood of the user returning to the opiate in question during this time, it is crucial that professional help is sought for the opiate addict.
If you believe you or someone you love may be addicted to opiates, please call our call center 24 hours a day .
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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.
Follow Johns Hopkins Medicine
Why Do People Abuse Prescription Drugs
Some people abuse prescription drugs because they think they will help them have more fun, lose weight, fit in, and even study more effectively. Prescription drugs can be easier to get than street drugs: Family members or friends may have them. But prescription drugs are also sometimes sold on the street like other illegal drugs. In 2017, 1 in 7 teens surveyed said they have taken a prescription drug without a doctor’s prescription.
But prescription drugs are only safe for the people who have prescriptions for them. That’s because a doctor has examined these people and prescribed the right dose of medicine for their medical condition. The doctor has also told them exactly how they should take the medicine, including things to avoid while taking the drug. They also are aware of side effects and can watch patients closely for these.
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What Are The Dangers Of Abusing Medicines
The likelihood that someone will commit a crime, be a victim of a crime, or have an accident is higher when that person is abusing drugs no matter whether those drugs are medicines or street drugs.
Like all drug abuse, using prescription drugs for the wrong reasons has serious risks for a person’s health.
Opioid abuse can lead to vomiting, mood changes, decrease in ability to think , and even decreased respiratory function, coma, or death. This risk is higher when prescription drugs like opioids are taken with other substances like alcohol, antihistamines, and CNS depressants.
CNS depressant abuse is risky too. Abruptly stopping or reducing them too quickly can lead to seizures. Taking CNS depressants with other medicines, such as prescription painkillers, some over-the-counter cold and allergy medicines, or alcohol can slow a person’s heartbeat and breathing and even kill.
Stimulant abuse may cause heart failure or seizures. These risks are increased when stimulants are mixed with other medicines even OTC ones like cold medicines. Taking too much of a stimulant can lead to a dangerously high body temperature or an irregular heartbeat. High doses over a short period may make someone aggressive or paranoid. Stimulant abuse might not lead to physical dependence and withdrawal, but users might take the drugs so often that they become a hard habit to break.
Why Do People Become Addicted To Opiates
Opiates, also known as opioids, are extremely addictive and can lead a persons life down a dangerous path of destruction and misery. Start healing from addiction with professional guidance and support.
People become addicted to opiates for various reasons. For me, it was something that happened so fast and by the time I realized what was happening, I was already addicted. Back in 2000, I injured my neck on a roller coaster. When I got home from my trip I saw my primary care doctor, and she prescribed me a mild opiate pain reliever and a muscle relaxer. At the time of my injury, I had untreated depression and anxiety, so I continued to take the medication even after my neck had stopped hurting, and my doctor continued to refill the prescription.
A year after I had injured my neck and it had stopped hurting, and I continued to take the opiate to, in a sense, treat my depression and anxiety. Addiction and mental illness run in my family, but I had no idea that I was at such a high risk of developing an addiction, or I would have never accepted that prescription. Also, I blame my doctor at the time for continuing to refill the opiate for me when she is the professional here and should have seen what was happening. That roller coaster ride and injury led me through 20 years of struggling with addiction.
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What Is Methadone Used For
Since the 1970s in the US, methadone clinics and methadone maintenance have been promoted as ways for people who struggle with heroin addiction to avoid the worst withdrawal symptoms while preventing relapse. Today, methadone is still used under close medical supervision to help people suffering from opioid addiction to ease through the withdrawal process.
However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2009, methadone contributed to one in three prescription painkiller deaths. As stated above, doctors sometimes prescribe this long-acting drug to treat chronic pain from multiple sclerosis, cancer, or injuries. Legitimate use via a prescription can turn into abuse as tolerance develops. Once abuse starts, addiction can quickly take hold.
Are You At Risk For Having Problems With Opioids
We don’t know why some people have problems when they try to stop opioids and others can stop using them without problems. We do know that some things make you more likely than others to have problems with opioids. These are called risk factors. Having a risk factor doesnt mean for sure that youll have these problems. But it may increase your chances. Risk factors for addiction include:
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Can One Dose Of Opium Lead To Addiction
Opioids have shown excellent results on people suffering from physical pain. In the medical field, there are a plethora of medicines made from opioid substances. Medicines such as Fentanyl, Methadone, Oxycodone, and Meperidine are generally considered safe for consumption. It is essential to consume these drugs under thorough supervision of doctors and follow the dosage schedule as suggested by the doctors.
Opioid addiction is often considered to be very powerful and creates compulsive urges in oneself to consume opioid drugs even when the body does not require it medically. So, it is true that opioids have a high potential for making people fall prey to addiction, also when they are consumed in correct proportions as advised by the doctors.
People who get addicted to opioids lose track of priorities and consider its consumption as of utmost importance. This quite often destroys and utterly imbalances their professional and personal life. Prioritize getting and using these drugs over other activities in their lives, often negatively impacting their professional and personal relationships. There is no medical tracing of why some people are more likely to fall for opioid addiction than others.
Why Are Opioids Dangerous
It may be hard for some people to stop using opioids because along with relieving pain, they release chemicals in the brain that can make you feel calm and intensely happy . Drug addiction is a brain condition that makes you use drugs, even if theyre harmful to you. Addiction affects your self-control and your ability to stop taking a drug. Most people who take prescription opioids can stop using them without getting addicted to them. But using them regularly can make you dependent on them, even if you use them as directed by your provider.
At a preconception checkup before pregnancy or at your first prenatal care checkup, your provider asks you questions about your health. Tell your provider about any health conditions you have and any medicines you take. This includes prescription medicine, over-the-counter medicines, herbal products and supplements. If you take medicine to treat a medical condition, you may need to switch to medicine thats safer for your baby. Or your provider may recommend different kinds of treatment that dont use medicine. And if you need help to quit using addictive drugs, your provider can help you find a treatment program.
When you take any prescription medicine:
- Dont take more than your provider says you can take.
- Dont take it with alcohol or other drugs.
- Dont use someone elses prescription drugs.
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Why Do People Get Addicted To Painkillers
Did you know that 80% of all painkillers are consumed by Americans? If you include Canada and Western Europe to our percentage, it will leave the rest of the world with only 5% for painkiller consumption.
So why is the United States consuming the highest percentage of painkillers? Well, to answer this question we have to discuss painkiller addictions and dependency.
Why do people get addicted to painkillers? Keep on reading to learn how the opioid crises took over the American people.
How Did Opioids Become So Widely Available
Many people attribute the start of this problem to the aggressive drug marketing which began in the late 1990s. This was when big pharmaceutical companies released awareness campaigns about the importance of chronic pain treatment and assured the public that the chances of getting addicted from painkillers is very low, especially if there is no history of addiction. Testimonials from doctors and patients somehow established the idea that long-term use of painkillers is safe and not addictive.
As a result of this pronouncement, medical practitioners started prescribing painkillers increasingly. For OxyContin alone, a top selling opioid painkiller, written prescriptions for non-cancer patients increased from 670,000 in 1997 to 6.2 million in 2002! While there were doctors who argued that these were valid prescriptions, it is undeniable that this rate was parallel with the spike in prescription drug abuse.
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How Do People Become Addicted
Addiction to opioids isnt a one-size-fits-all issue.
Everyone who takes prescription opioid painkillers like OxyContin or Vicodin, even as prescribed by a doctor or medical professional, is at risk of developing a tolerance, becoming dependent on them, and even addicted. Which is confusing, since taking things as prescribed is usually what people do when theyre trying to be responsible.
Thats not to say people shouldnt trust their doctor/surgeon/dentist/nurse practitioner. They absolutely should! But over-prescriptions can happen, so its important to talk to those medical professionals. Or the pharmacist thats filling the prescription. Having the most information possible about opioids before taking them is a good strategy because dependence on opioids can happen after just five days of use.
The more someone takes opioids, the more the brain adapts to having them around. Having a tolerance to opioids means that someone has taken enough over time to require higher or more frequent doses in order to get that same feeling.
Dependence on opioids happens with repeated use, so the parts of the brain responsible for releasing dopamine only function normally when the drug is around–and when its not, things get unpleasant. Withdrawal symptoms can include aching, fever, diarrhea/vomiting, sweating and chills. Which sounds like the flu or a bad order of clams, but worse, since the brain is still screaming for the one thing that could make it all stop.
Can You Get Addicted To Opioids On The First Try
It is a known fact of how opioids are massively addictive substances. Numbers show how severe opioids abuse has become in the last decade. Approximately 10.3 million Americans above the age of 12 and older have misused opioids in the year 2018. This also includes 9.9 million people consuming it under prescription abuse and 808,000 heroin users.
Opioid addiction is a chronic disease that can lead to fatal health, social, and economic imbalances. These drugs alter the nervous system and lead to artificial stimulation of feelings associated with pleasure and pain relief.
However, there are some opioids in the market today that are legally prescribed by some of the most experienced doctors that help to heal severe and chronic pain.
These numbers are highly alarming, and what we need urgently is to indulge in an open discussion about the addictive nature of opioids. There have been a lot of debates on how addictive opiates are. So, let us see if a person can get addicted to it the first time one uses it
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