As the opioid crisis in the USA rages on, with 136 lives lost every day, the UK is also experiencing its own problems. In 2020, a record number of opioid fatalities were recorded, with 2,263 deaths related to some form of opioid. Due to the highly addictive nature of these drugs, many find it extremely difficult to break the opiate addiction cycle and reclaim their lives. Thankfully, there are many options for people struggling with opiate addiction and recovery is possible with the right support and care.
What is opiate addiction?
Opiate addiction is a type of substance use disorder that is characterised by the compulsive seeking and use of opiates, even in the face of negative consequences. People with opiate addiction will often find themselves taking increasingly higher doses of these drugs to achieve the desired effects, leading to physical and psychological dependence. Opiate addiction is a serious problem that often leads to devastating physical, emotional and social tolls on individuals and their families.
What is the difference between opiates and opioids?
The terms “opiate” and “opioid” are often used interchangeably, including in this page as both refer to drugs that bind to opioid receptors in the brain and both can be used to manage pain. Generally, opiates refer to natural drugs derives from opium. On the other hand, opioids refer to synthetic or semi-sythetic drugs.
How does opiate addiction develop?
Opioids are highly addictive because they act on the brain’s reward system by producing a feeling of euphoria and relaxation. This feeling acts as a powerful reward, encouraging the user to seek out repeat experiences. In turn, this could lead to physical dependence which is when you can’t stop taking opiates without experiencing withdrawal symptoms. Once you are physically dependent on opiates, opiate addiction is usually close behind.
What underlying factors can increase the chances of opiate addiction?
There are multiple underlying factors that can increase the chances of opiate addiction. These include but are not limited to:
Initial studies suggest that people who are genetically predisposed to addiction may be more likely to develop opiate dependency. For example, those with a family history of addiction may be more likely to abuse opiates due to increased susceptibility, although more research is needed in the field to give a conclusive answer.
People who live in an environment where opiate abuse is prevalent may be more likely to engage in similar behaviours. Furthermore, those who are exposed to traumas such as physical or sexual abuse may seek relief through opiate abuse. Other environmental factors such as poverty or homelessness, can create additional stress and distress, which can lead to opiate misuse.
Stressful life events or a lack of coping skills could lead people to turn to opiates for relief or escape. Those with mental health issues, such as anxiety or depression, could also use opiates to try and alleviate their symptoms, leading to potential misuse and co-occurring dependency.
Those with limited social support or no regular support system may turn to substances like opiates because they feel isolated and disconnected from others. Additionally, peers can have a powerful influence on substance use patterns and those with friends or family members who abuse opiates are at an increased risk of developing an addiction themselves.
Am I addicted to opiates?
Addiction can be tough to spot as symptoms can vary from person to person. If you’re unsure as to whether or not you have opiate addiction, take the time to view our questionnaire below.
- Have you ever taken opiate medication for a purpose other than its intended use?
- Do you find yourself needing to take an increased dosage of opiate medications in order to feel the same effects?
- Are you taking opiates outside of what has been prescribed to you by a doctor?
- Have you tried to stop using opiates but been unsuccessful?
- Do you feel a need or compulsion to use opiates on a regular basis?
- Do you feel that your life has become unmanageable due to the use of opiates?
- Do you experience withdrawal symptoms when you are unable to take opiate medication?
If you answered “yes” to some or all of the above questions, it could be time to get professional help for opiate addiction.
What are the dangers of becoming addicted to opioids?
Although initially created for the sole purpose of relieving pain, opioids do have a dark side. Prescription drug addiction can cause a plethora of issues for you and the people around you. Below, we take a closer look at the different kinds of dangers that opioid addiction can bring to the individual;
- Risk of overdose and death
- Difficulty breathing
- Long-term organ damage, such as liver and kidney problems
- Damage to the nervous system, leading to mental and physical decline
- Increased risk of infectious diseases, such as HIV or hepatitis due to sharing needles
Mental and emotional dangers:
- Loss of motivation, leading to a lack of interest in activities or hobbies
- Mood swings, including depression, anxiety, and irritability
- Memory problems or difficulty concentrating
- Social isolation due to withdrawal from other activities or relationships
- An unhealthy preoccupation with opiate use
- A risk of developing a co-occurring mental health disorder
Financial and legal dangers:
- Financial troubles caused by the expense of buying opiates
- Loss of job or academic opportunities due to opiate use
- Theft and other criminal activities to support one’s habit
- Legal consequences such as arrests, jail time, and fines
What help is available for opiate addiction?
Effective recovery from opiate addiction involves opiate detox and opiate rehab, a programme designed to help individuals who are struggling with a substance abuse problem to stop using drugs and restore their lives.
At Banbury Lodge, we can help with a range of opioid addictions, including:
Addiction to this opioid analgesic is becoming more and more common as it is found in many over-the-counter medicines and prescribed medications.
The cause of thousands of deaths in North America, this condition requires immediate medical attention as the drug can be fatal even in very small doses.
Morphine addiction is a serious and dangerous condition due to the high potential for abuse and dependence, as well as potentially life-threatening side effects.
An incredibly dangerous condition, as abuse and addiction of oxycodone can lead to a number of physical and psychological problems and even death.
Common in users who take this painkiller in greater doses or more frequently than prescribed and for recreational purposes.
How can I help a loved one with an opioid addiction?
We understand how hard it must be to see your loved one struggle with opioid addiction. It’s difficult to watch someone you love go through something like this and no one should ever have to experience that sort of pain. You are not alone in this and there is help available. It can be hard to know where to begin or what options are available, but following the steps below could be a good starting point in getting the help your loved one needs.
- Educate yourself: Research opioid addiction and treatment options to understand the problem and how best to help your loved one.
- Talk with your loved one: Talk openly and honestly about their opioid addiction without judging or scolding them. Don’t put them down or make them feel ashamed of their condition; instead, emphasise your love and support.
- Connect with healthcare professionals: Work with medical professionals to develop an opiate addiction programme for your loved one.
- Offer practical help: Assist your loved one with day-to-day tasks like meal prep, grocery shopping or picking up prescriptions as needed.
- Set boundaries: Make sure to set clear boundaries on behaviours you won’t tolerate, such as drug use or criminal activity. Ensure that your boundaries are consistently enforced in a supportive way.
- Help them during their cravings: It is normal for people with opiate addictions to have cravings and lapses into old habits. Be patient and understanding during these times, but also provide positive reinforcement when they resist temptation or take steps toward progress.
- Provide emotional support: Opiate addiction can be a draining experience for all involved, so it is important to provide emotional support and practice self-care to stay strong. Encourage your loved one to lean on you during tough times and maintain a consistent support system.
How to get help for opiate addiction
If you or someone you love is suffering from opiate addiction, it’s important to get help as soon as possible. Contact Banbury Lodge today so you can get started on the journey to recovery. With the right help and support, you can learn to manage your symptoms, practise healthy coping skills and ultimately live a life without the constant struggle of opiate addiction.
Frequently asked questions
Symptoms of opioid overdose include difficulty breathing, slowed or stopped breathing, extreme sleepiness, snoring, clammy skin, confusion and loss of consciousness. If you or someone you know exhibits any of these symptoms while taking opioids, seek immediate medical attention.