Opiates are highly addictive drugs that can upend a person’s life when addiction is formed. Not only does addiction to opiates have many dangerous effects on a person’s health, but it can also destroy outwardly how their life looks. Addiction will cause a person to prioritize the drug over everything in their life, regardless of consequences. However, recovery from opiate addiction is possible and there is help available.
What are Opiates?
The term opiate is often used interchangeably with the term opioids because of the similarity of the substances and their effects. The difference between the two is how they are made. The term opiate is used to classify substances that are made from opium, the natural substance in the poppy plant. The most common opiates are morphine and codeine. The term opioid is used to classify substances that are synthetically made to imitate the effects of natural opium. Some opioids like heroin, contain a combination of both synthetic and natural opium.
Opiates affect the central nervous system to relieve pain. Opiates dull and block the feeling of pain and instead bring about a calming, hazy, and euphoric feeling. This specific feeling is what can have users seeking out the drug repeatedly, leading to an addiction.
Morphine and codeine are the two most common opiates people will form an addiction to. Morphine is typically used to treat severe pain in hospitals and can be prescribed by doctors for those experiencing chronic pain. Morphine comes in multiple forms, the most common being liquid or tablet. The tablet form of morphine will be swallowed, snorted, or chewed to achieve a high. People will inject the liquid form into their veins to get high. The liquid form of morphine is nearly three times as potent as other forms. Because of morphine’s high potential for addiction, it is carefully and closely regulated. People who form an addiction to morphine will most likely resign to using a more accessible drug, like heroin, that provides similar effects.
Codeine is typically used to treat mild and moderate pain. The most common form of codeine is found in prescription-only cough syrup, but it comes in tablet form as well. Codeine is not quite as strong as morphine is but is just as addictive and provides the same calming and euphoric effects. It is often abused by younger people who mistake it as a harmless drug to experiment with. Codeine addiction often leads to addiction to other opioids like morphine, heroin, and fentanyl.
The Signs of Opiate Addiction
For someone who is struggling with opiate addiction, there are tell-tale signs both physically and reflected in their daily lives. This is because their addiction will become their unintended priority and all other things will fall to the wayside. If a loved one is possibly addicted to opiates you may see:
- Financial struggles (not being able to pay bills etc.)
- Isolation from friends and family
- Not being able to keep a job
- Failure to attend important events/meetings consistently
- Sudden lack of interest in hobbies
- Unexplained irritation/anger
Apart from the changes in their behavior and life, there are physical signs that can point to an addiction to opiates. Some of the signs to look for include but are not limited to:
- Small or “pinned” pupils
- Unusual drowsiness
- Sudden weight loss
- Clammy hands
If you or a loved one may be struggling with opiate addiction, it is important to seek professional help immediately.
The Dangers of Opiate Addiction
Being addicted to an opiate or opioid has very dangerous consequences. The most dangerous of all is death. Opiate abuse leads to a high risk of overdose. The National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics (NCDAS) states that in 2020 nearly fifty-thousand people overdosed on opioids.
Most people tend to inject opioids such as heroin, fentanyl, and morphine into their veins, leading to an increased chance of contracting hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV/AIDS. The NCDAS found that over two-million cases of hepatitis C and one-million cases of HIV/AIDS are due to injecting drugs.
Recovery from Opiate Addiction
For those struggling with an addiction to opiates, it is heavily recommended to receive treatment at a detox facility first. Tolerance to opiates builds quickly, requiring the user to use more of the substance each time to achieve the same effects. Due to the repeated use and higher doses, a physical dependency forms quickly, meaning that when stopping the use of the drug, their body will go into withdrawal. Withdrawal from opiates can be dangerous, even causing seizures to happen. A few common symptoms of withdrawal are:
- Body and muscle aches
- Abdominal cramps
- Nausea and vomiting
- Increased blood pressure and heart rate
At a detox facility, there will be medical professionals on staff to ensure a client’s safe detox. There are also medications available that can ease the side effects of withdrawal such as methadone and buprenorphine. Each client will have an individualized assessment and treatment plan put in place to set them up for a successful recovery. It is strongly recommended that once detox is successfully completed, to continue their treatment at an inpatient or outpatient addiction treatment center. Patients will be able to spend time in a safe place without any access to opiates while receiving therapy and learning tools that will help them stay sober once they return to their daily life.
How Moving Mountains Recovery Can Help
At Moving Mountains Recovery, we understand how serious addiction to opiates is. We are passionate about helping people find freedom from their addiction and rebuild their lives on a strong foundation of recovery. We have a team of motivated and compassionate professionals that are dedicated to helping people recover. We are ready to answer any questions about opiate addiction and help where we can. Please give us a call today!