Opioid Addiction

Opioid Addiction Treatment In South Carolina

Many of those who use opioid drugs first begin using legal painkiller prescription drugs. They likely never imagined that they would become dependent on or addicted to the drug. As their body adjusts to the presence of the drug and tolerance rises, such people may begin increasing their dosage or frequency of use. The increased use can spark an addictive euphoric high.

It’s a short bridge from dependence to addiction and only medical intervention through an addiction treatment center gives individuals the best chance of long-term sobriety. As individuals walk across that short bridge from dependence to addiction, they will be driven by constant opioid cravings. They will put their drug use before everything else (their job, family, friends, life goals), and even take illegal action to obtain more opioids. Those who become addicted to opioids are in danger of a fatal overdose.

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What are Opioids?

Opioids, more commonly known as opiates or painkillers, are drugs that react with the nerves in a person’s brain and body and with opioid receptors in the brain causing a feeling of euphoria and relief from pain.

The brain has opioid receptors and, when people use opioids, it triggers brain circuits that in turn, result in an increased production of dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical in the brain that has many functions but most importantly has to do with reward-seeking and pleasure.

What are Types of Opioids?

There are illegal and legal types of opioids; that’s a part of what makes them so dangerous. Individuals who use prescription opioids may not be able to afford them over time. Many people in the United States are unable to afford insurance and may resort to self-medication. This can be a gateway to harder drugs in the opioid class.

Some types of opioids include:

  • Oxycodone
  • Hydrocodone
  • Hydromorphone
  • Codeine
  • Morphine
  • Fentanyl
  • Heroin
  • Vicodin

Opioid Addiction

Opioid addiction was responsible for almost half of all the drug overdoses that took place in the United States in 2014. Dependency or addiction to opioids can have many different effects on a person’s mind and body. Not only are these opioids extremely addicting, but they also make users more susceptible to trying heroin for the first time. Since opioids are physically addicting, users tend to be more willing to commit crimes in order to obtain their next fix.

Those with an opioid addiction become this way because of increased tolerance and increased dependence on this drug. According to PubMed, “opioid tolerance occurs because the brain cells that have opioid receptors on them gradually become less responsive to the opioid stimulation.”

If individuals attempt to quit opioids when they have a dependence on them, it could result in severe withdrawal symptoms. Yet, the more they consume opioids, the higher their tolerance becomes. This can easily turn into an addiction, especially if a person decides to use opioids without medical supervision.

Painkiller Addiction

Unlike many drugs, opioids are legal with a doctor’s prescription. The overprescribing of painkillers has been a huge problem for this country in the past decade and has been a factor in today’s heroin epidemic. It is recorded that in 2012, most doctors nationwide gave out nearly 260-million prescriptions for painkillers. Unfortunately, statistics show that a staggering number of teenagers younger than 17 suffer from substance abuse and addiction due to pain killers being so readily available.

Like heroin, painkillers suppress one’s ability to breathe due to the effect of the drug on the respiratory system and put users at an extremely high risk of a fatal overdose. Besides becoming addicted, there are a number of other health risks that could come from abusing painkillers.

Pharmaceutical companies in the 1990s assured doctors that prescription painkillers were a safe and effective way to relieve chronic pain. Unfortunately, this was not the case and led to serious health repercussions in the United States. By the time it became evident that prescription painkillers could be deeply addictive and life-threatening in some situations, it was too late to reverse the damage. In 2017, about 1.7 million Americans met the criteria for a substance use disorder related to prescription opioids.

Treating Opioid Addiction

Some people may try to quit opioids “cold turkey” and find that they are unable to do so. Those with opioid addiction shouldn’t try to quit on their own. Instead, they should seek help from a reputable addiction recovery center. The first step of recovering from addiction is detox. This process rids the body of any traces of opioids, which makes treatment more effective. Some addiction treatment facilities may use methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone to help with opioid withdrawal symptoms, although this isn’t always the case.

Those with an opioid addiction may feel that they will only be able to overcome a substance use disorder through inpatient treatment. However, The Owl’s Nest provides outpatient care that could eliminate the need for this. Outpatient care is typically less expensive and doesn’t require living at an addiction treatment facility. There are different levels of outpatient care to help patients at whatever stage they are at in recovery.

Outpatient Programs (OPs)

There are various levels of outpatient programs. A general outpatient program, or OP, doesn’t require much of a time commitment. For this reason, it’s really only appropriate for those who have finished a more intense form of outpatient care. Those participating in an outpatient program will be involved in therapy and will only have to commit a few hours a week to it.

Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHPs)

On the other hand, PHPs are the most intense form of outpatient treatment. While patients in a PHP will also participate in therapy like OP, they will be exposed to different kinds of therapies. Additionally, patients will have more medical supervision and interaction with case managers to help them with their recovery goals. PHPs require the most amount of time commitment (five days a week at least eight hours per day).

Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOPs)

IOPs are an effective medium between PHPs and OPs. They don’t require as much time commitment as PHPs, but involve much more time than OPs. The focus of IOPs can help those who don’t want to lose the immense support of a PHP but also don’t need as much medical supervision. IOPs usually run a few days a week for multiple hours during those days.

Symptoms of Opioid Withdrawal

Withdrawal symptoms appear in two stages. Early symptoms (occurring within 24 hours) and late symptoms (after 24 hours). Those with a severe addiction will likely have a more uncomfortable experience during withdrawal. However, an addiction recovery treatment center can help individuals mitigate the worst of it.

Early symptoms of opioid withdrawal include:

  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Insomnia
  • Joint pain
  • Teary eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Restlessness
  • Muscle aches
  • Excessive sweating
  • Excessive yawning

Late symptoms of opioid withdrawal can include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • High blood pressure
  • Dilated pupils
  • Goosebumps

Dilated pupils and opiate withdrawal are common and may reflect the severity of acute withdrawal symptoms. One study examined the relationship between dilated pupils and opiate withdrawal to see the relationship between the two. The study concluded that examining the relationship between dilated pupils and opiate withdrawal might help medical professionals determine the course of treatment in the long term.

As for withdrawal symptoms overall, they can be extremely uncomfortable Yet, they are typically not life-threatening. Symptoms may vary in intensity based on a number of personal factors including overall personal health, level of dependency, and length of addiction.

There is also a risk of complications from withdrawal including vomiting, lung aspiration, and infection. These can lead to pneumonia and dehydration, which could be life-threatening. Users in withdrawal also face a higher risk of fatal overdose.

Signs of an Opioid Overdose

Over 50,000 Americans died from opioid use in 2019. This reflects the severity of the opioid epidemic, and also serves as a stark warning of the dangers of an opioid overdose. Opioids depress the respiratory system and alter the parts of the user’s brain that regulate breathing. As a result, an overdose of these drugs can result in loss of consciousness or even death.

Signs of an opioid overdose may include:

  • Vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Sleepiness
  • Small pupils
  • Limp muscles
  • Poor circulation
  • Clammy or itchy skin
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Respiratory depression (marked by slowed or erratic breathing and/or pulse)
  • Blue, purple, or grey skin and fingernails
  • Lessened alertness
  • Inability to talk

Opioid users may exhibit some of these signs due to a high without actually experiencing an overdose. One crucial difference between the two is a failure to respond to outside stimuli. If a user is unresponsive or unconscious, seek medical attention immediately. If you are unsure if your loved one is high or overdosing, it is always best to err on the side of caution and seek help.

Get Help With Opioid Addiction in South Carolina

The Owl’s Nest specializes in chronic relapse and can provide the resources you need if you have unsuccessfully attempted recovery in the past. Participants are empowered by a network of thousands of alumni who have overcome their addictions and are living lives of sobriety. To learn how to live a life independent of drug and alcohol use, contact us today.

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