Opiate Dependence – Signs of Opiate Use Vs. Abuse, Tolerance
- Print VersionIn This Article
- Is Opiate Addictive?
- Understanding Opiate Dependency and Tolerance
- Effects/Side Effects
- Withdrawal and Detoxification
- Treatment for Opiate Addiction
Are Opiates Addictive?
Opiates are often referred to as narcotics and are generally prescribed by physicians to help individuals relieve pain. While opiate use is common in the medical industry, many individuals use opiates recreationally. Opiates come in many forms, and they can be injected, taken orally, snorted or smoked. If you’ve taken opiates in the past or are currently using them, you may be wondering, “How addictive are opiates?” Opiates can be quite addictive, particularly when consumed in large doses. Popular forms of opiates include Oxycontin, Vicodin, Percocet and heroin.
Understanding Opiate Dependency and Tolerance
Opiate dependence can be both physical and psychological. A person with a long history of chronic pain may become dependent on opiates if the drug provides substantial pain relief. Even when opiates are prescribed by physicians, dependence on opiates can be both physical and psychological since the drug alleviates physical pain and allows those suffering from pain to function without constantly thinking about their pain. As with most narcotics, the more individuals consume them, the higher their tolerance for that narcotic becomes. Once physical or psychological dependence sets in, individuals often feel like they cannot function normally without regularly consuming opiates.
When initially consumed, opiates provide a euphoric feeling, which makes individuals feel very calm and relaxed. Those suffering from pain will feel very little or no pain once they consume opiates, which is why many chronic pain sufferers become addicted to them. When small doses of opiates are taken orally, the euphoric feeling may take a little while to set in. However, when opiates are injected, snorted or smoked, the euphoric feeling can set in within a matter of seconds or minutes. The euphoric feeling or “high” that individuals obtain only lasts a short while. Those who take opiates prescribed by physicians may request a higher dosage if their pain returns quickly after consumption. Those who inject or smoke opiates often “take another hit,” or self-administer another dose.
Once the feeling of euphoria begins to subside, the user may begin to feel anxious, paranoid or restless. When coming down from opiates, those who take the drug for pain relief may become anxious because they know that their pain will shortly return. Individuals who take opiates recreationally generally take them in very high doses, so as the drug effects subside, they may experience strong cravings for the drug. Also, aside from anxiousness and paranoia, irritability, nausea and restlessness often occurs. Long-term use of opiates alters the normal function of bodily organs, particularly the heart. Because a person’s addiction to opiates can be very intense, many individuals who become addicted need professional help in order to end their addiction.
Withdrawal and Detoxification
Because opiates are so potent, it is important for individuals who are physically or psychologically addicted to opiates to seek professional help. Not only does getting professional help allow individuals to gain support and encouragement in a safe environment, it allows them to be monitored by an experienced, professional staff during the detoxification process. Withdrawal symptoms may include restlessness, nausea, cold sweats, hot flashes and diarrhea. Practitioners who are very familiar with the withdrawal and detoxification process can help individuals to cope with these effects as the body rids itself of opiates. Most practitioners also administer alternative substances to patients to make the withdrawal process less intense. It is important for individuals to allow experienced practitioners to monitor them during this process, as this will increase their chances of success. While the withdrawal process may be unpleasant, it is not life threatening. Please fill out a contact form if you, a loved one or friend is in need of this type of support or assistance.
Treatment for Opiate Addiction
The medical drugs that are typically used during the withdrawal process include Clondine and Buprenorphine. Clondine is typically used to treat high blood pressure, but it also helps to reduce anxiety, heavy sweating, pain and aches that often occur during opiate withdrawal. Buprenorphine helps to speed up the detoxification process. Support groups and counseling sessions are also an important part of the treatment process. Psychologists can be of great assistance to those who are in recovery from drug addiction because they help individuals to deal with the environmental, physical, social and psychological factors that led to their opiate addiction. Do not hesitate to seek help if you are suffering from opiate addiction. Get the help and support you need by calling 1-888-803-9961 Who Answers? or by filling out a contact form.