Opioids are a class of powerful drugs that are primarily prescribed to treat severe pain. If opioids are abused, they can create feelings of intense pleasure or euphoria, and can also lead to fatal overdose, along with other medical, legal and social problems. Opioids include illicit drugs, such as heroin, as well as prescription medications, such as Percocet, morphine and codeine. Opioids are an effective medication when used as prescribed, but they carry a risk of addiction because of their powerful effects physically and psychologically.
Currently public enemy number 1, due to the influx of Fentanyl and Carfentanyl found on the streets these days, opioids have become the predominant cause of drug overdose in the community. As the use of heroin, and heroin-like drugs, has increased, so have the deaths related to the use of this deadly killer. According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, heroin-related overdose deaths have more than quadrupled since 2010. From 2014 to 2015, heroin overdose death rates increased by 20.6%, with nearly 13,000 people dying in 2015, and males aged 25-44 had the highest heroin death rate at 13.2 per 100,000, which was an increase of 22.2% from 2014.
Opioid addiction involves more than just physical dependence. For example, a person with cancer who is prescribed opioids for severe pain may experience withdrawal symptoms when he or she stops taking the medication but is not addicted. In addition to physical dependence, opioid addiction also involves psychological dependence. This means that the drug is so central to the person’s life that the need to keep using becomes a craving or compulsion, even if the person knows continued use is harmful.
Opioid addiction refers to a group of signs or symptoms and behaviours that indicate a person is both physically and psychologically dependent on the substance. Typically the person will continue to use opioids despite the fact that the drug use is causing significant physical, personal or social problems.Because tolerance develops quickly to the euphoric effects of the drug, the person will take increasing amounts of the drug in order to feel high.
Through chronic exposure to the drug, the person will also show signs of physical dependence. That is, if the person abruptly stops using the drug, he or she will experience very unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, such as strong cravings, sweating, muscle aches and insomnia. Withdrawal symptoms happen when the body cannot re-adapt quickly enough to the absence of the drug.
If this sounds familiar to you and your behaviours, or those of a loved one you are concerned about, and you would like to make some changes in your use of opioids, take a look at the information contained in our website and the external resources for opioid addiction that we offer here at The Liberation Place. If it's time to make a change and reach out for the support, recovery is a journey that starts with just one step, and only you alone can choose to take that step, but remember you are not destined to be alone when you choose to take that step with The Liberation Place.