If you have found yourself slowly becoming more dependent on prescription drugs, especially pain medications, please know that you are not alone. Due to the addictive nature of prescription pain medicine, it is very normal to experience opioid dependency. There is not a certain type of demographic to which addiction is restricted; anyone can experience this issue, and people get there through a variety of paths. Often, prescription drug abuse starts with a valid prescription from a health care provider. The reason for the start of opioid addiction in many cases is due to context and being underinformed or misinformed in reference to the addictive nature of opioid painkillers. However, despite the painkiller addiction being unintentional and therefore not the individual’s fault that it began, it is still their responsibility to take care of their life and make the changes needed to recover.
The Uses of Prescription Painkillers
Historically, when prescription painkillers began to rise in popularity, it was common for doctors to downplay the addictive nature of the substance– oftentimes because they did not know the harms it could truly produce. Opioid medications have been found to be extremely helpful and even life-saving medication for some individuals who experience severe, chronic pain. They also are helpful for those experiencing severe pain after major medical events, as opioids are frequently prescribed after surgeries. However, an opioid painkiller is much safer when used short term; if it is used more long-term for pain management, those receiving the prescriptions certainly need to be monitored in order to have proper support and safety regarding the use of this addictive substance.
Does an Addictive Personality Cause Opioid Addiction?
People without the stereotypical “addictive personality” are particularly vulnerable to developing opioid dependence because they are used to being in control and making good decisions. Most people don’t think twice about taking medication prescribed by a trusted doctor, especially if they are experiencing a level of pain they’re unaccustomed to. There are many types of pain, and opioids eliminate all of them. But at what cost?
Getting Treatment for Opioid Addiction
Opiate addiction is very serious, as it has the risk of leading to overdose, which can be fatal. Our treatment programs are equipped with addiction specialists including addiction counselors and medical professionals trained to treat painkiller addiction among other substance use disorders. Whether someone is not yet aware they have a painkiller addiction, they are inactive addiction, or they are in the maintenance stage of recovery from addiction, Archstone Behavioral Health’s treatment centers have the tools to help. We offer a drug rehab program that includes inpatient rehab with medical detox and we also offer outpatient treatment to treat moderate addictions to pain medications. It is important for someone trying to quit misusing prescription opioids to be supported properly due to the dangerous risk of drug overdoses. Often, individuals will attempt to quit and can make it a short amount of time without using, but then will use too much of the illegal opiates when they relapse and due to their tolerance decreasing, can overdose unexpectedly.
A Full Range of Addiction Treatment Programs Under One Roof
We believe that the best way to encourage healing and growth is by providing a full continuum of mental health and addiction treatment programs in one location. This way, people are able to get comfortable in their surroundings. At Archstone Behavioral Health, we offer a full continuum of care for chemical dependency and co-occurring mental health conditions, including:
Opioid Dependency is a Medical Condition
The rush of neurotransmitters responsible for intoxication’s pleasurable effects causes gradual changes in the brain’s pleasure and reward circuitry. Eventually, the brain stops needing to recognize pleasurable messages from anywhere but the drug. Consuming opioids over an extended period of time causes the brain to become more dependent on a particular combination of drugs to release the neurotransmitters people need to feel good and cope with life. People who spend a significant amount of their time and energy searching for drugs–or money to buy drugs–tend to become quite good at acquiring drugs; however, they stop developing the skills and personality traits needed to live a happy, connected life.
Withdrawal from Misuse of Prescription Pain Medication
One of the major reasons why opioids are referred to as one of the most addictive substances is because after taking them for a few months, individuals report that they no longer feel the euphoric effects they were originally seeking, but instead feel horrible withdrawal symptoms when they tried to stop using. At this time, their body had developed a physical dependence on the prescription painkillers, which is the point people refer to when they say they were “no longer using to get high– just to feel normal and to function.” The withdrawal symptoms characteristic of Opioid Use Disorder help to hold individuals in their addictive cycles; if an individual was originally using to help any chronic pain, they now experience severe pain through the form of withdrawal symptoms when they try to quit. Common withdrawal symptoms might include agitation, anxiety, muscle aches, nausea or vomiting, cramping, sweating, or more.
How Does Opioid Dependence Work?
Opioids relieve pain in the short term, but they actually make people more sensitive to pain if they are used in high doses for extended periods. If your brain tells you that you are experiencing constant, unbearable agony, the natural response will be to alleviate it. It’s human nature. Unfortunately, taking too many opioids, especially when combined with other substances, can shut down the body’s drive to breathe.
Combinations Frequently Leading to Overdose
- Fentanyl (Actiq, Abstral, Duragesic) or Carfentanil mixed with any benzodiazepines
- Alcohol combined with opioids (including benzodiazepines)
- Fentanyl combined with opioids
- Fentanyl combined with heroin
- Fentanyl combined with cocaine
- Opioids (Vicodin, Oxycontin) mixed with benzodiazepines (Xanax, Klonopin)
- Heroin mixed with methamphetamine
- Opioids combined with other opioids
- Opioids combined with methamphetamine
- Opioids combined with cocaine
Once the brain becomes dependent on opioids, there is no stability; there is no peace. Family members might make comments about how you’re “not yourself” or that you have lost your way. After extended periods of opioid use, the brain stops experiencing joy. This is catastrophic, but–with treatment–it’s not permanent.
For those who are using prescription medications and have had a negative past experience with medical detox curbing their opioid drug use, we also offer Medication-Assisted Treatment. This would mean that treatment would include a combination of therapy with a substance abuse counselor as well as a medication prescribed by one of our doctors. Common medications used in Medication-Assisted Treatment are methadone, buprenorphine, and suboxone. Once the patient achieves the proper dose, these medications can stop withdrawal symptoms and also curb cravings, cutting out two large reasons why it is so difficult to stop using opioids. Many individuals say that these medications have saved them from their addiction and helped to keep them from using illicitly. When these drugs are taken under the supervision of an addiction treatment center, they are safe to use. We at Archstone Behavioral Health are happy to be able to offer such highly effective treatment so that we are able to achieve the best care for our patients. If you have questions about our treatment options, please call us today.