On average, 130 people die every day of opioid overdose which is prescription pain medications and heroin. The main reason for starting opioids is medical conditions. Patients are ordered pain medications after surgeries, dental procedures, and those who have an acute or chronic condition resulting in pain.
People do not think in the back of their mind that they will become addicted to the medication their physician ordered for them for their pain. This disease does not discriminate against color, economic status, age, sexual orientation or religious background. It does not care. It touches everyone either personally or someone close. Addiction is a chronic disorder characterized by drug seeking and use that is compulsive, despite negative consequences.
Addiction does not happen overnight. It is a series of mental and physical changes that take place the longer a person is on the narcotic medications. The initial decision to take drugs is generally voluntary. However, with continued use, a person’s ability to exert self-control can become seriously impaired.
Brain imaging studies from people addicted to drugs show physical changes in areas of the brain that are critical for judgment, decision-making, learning, memory, and behavior control. Scientists believe that these changes alter the way the brain works and may help explain the compulsive and destructive behaviors of a person who becomes addicted.
Beginning these medications usually there are 3 outcomes that transpire. Of course this is not a black and white model because there are several other factors that have effects with addiction itself. A genetic predisposition, trauma or self-esteem issues.and/or mental illnesses (depression/anxiety,etc).
1. The first person has the mindset that it just helps with pain. They are able to take their medications as prescribed and when they feel better, they can stop and go about their life. No more thinking about taking that medication. No addictive thinking at all.
2. The second person can take the medication and get sick or have side effects that detours them from taking them at all unless the pain outweighs the sickness. This person will probably try to avoid pain medication in the future due to adverse reaction to it.
3. The last person took that medication and they feel their pain is gone and they also have this overall sense of euphoria and/or excess energy. They feel as long as they have that medication, they can have a productive, great day. They begin to take more to feel like they did that first time. The prescription runs out and they begin to start getting off-street or Dr shopping.
The 3rd person’s story will not be good if continued on that path. Physical dependence can lead to craving the drug to relieve the withdrawal symptoms. Tolerance is the need to take higher doses of a drug to get the same effect. Recurrent use of the substance results in a failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school or home. Important social, occupational, or recreational activities are reduced or given up because of the use of these substances. Their focus is on getting and using and let other things important go.
. The mental obsession of constant thought, needing to find more and more, and neglecting other areas of their life are some red flags of addiction to that medication. The compulsion of being physically addicted and the physical side of withdrawal symptoms when the medication is not in their system, like chills, aches, diarrhea, etc. are some symptoms.
Opioids block the pain receptor and put out a dose of dopamine into the system. Soon the brain correlates the pain med (block receptor) with feelings of euphoria from the dopamine release. This euphoria doe not last long and so the brain needs more to get that same feeling the person had in the beginning. As addiction progresses, the addict will put their values and integrity on the line.
Why one uses a substance without becoming dependent while another progresses to abuse and dependence is not entirely clear. Just as some factors increase the likelihood of developing substance abuse problems, others decrease those chances. For example, having a partner can be a risk factor if that person abuses alcohol or drugs, but having a supportive, caring partner who does not use alcohol or drugs can be a protective factor.
Approx 70% of addicts have a co-occurring mental illness. Various literature on co-occurring disorders highlights the role of substance abuse as a means of self-medicating distressing affect. Anxiety disorders and major depression are positively associated with substance use, abuse, and dependence and are the most common co-occurring diagnoses
Bottom line, addicts will always be chasing the first high they ever got because the first high they ever had is the best high they will ever get. Doing that means taking more from wherever which increases risk of getting a bad batch and overdose wtih either scenerios.
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Wishing you the Best…..