Opiate addiction is one of the more complex addictions. It is difficult to determine exactly how and when you become addicted. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, drug addiction begins with voluntarily taking the drug, but this is not always the case when it comes to prescription opiates. Due to the epidemic nature of prescription drug deaths, it is important to recognize the danger that opiates present. Most opiates are originally prescribed to the patient. There are a few ways to become addicted to opiates without seeking out the drug to gain a high first.
Accidental addiction happens when someone is prescribed an opiate for an injury or after surgery. They begin taking the opiate as prescribed but the pathways in the brain that the opiates affect begin to change rapidly.
This starts as simple pain control and when the patient builds up a tolerance to the opiate medication, they begin to take more of it. This sometimes happen when the original prescription was not enough to take the pain away from the patient so they take more than the prescribed amount.
This becomes a cycle until even after the injury has healed the patient still feels the need for pain medication. This craving can even cause phantom pain in the old injury site or cause them to fake pain in order to obtain more of the drug.
Addiction Due to Chronic Pain
Another way that people become addicted to opiates that does not fall under the normal recreational use idea is chronic pain patients. These patients usually suffer from:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Chronic back pain
A chronic pain patient takes opiates and other drugs like it to live a normal life, free of what is often crippling pain. Unfortunately, the opiates that they take are addictive and they become tolerant to them, needing more and more to counteract the same amount of pain. They are dependent on the opiate at this point.
In order to continue pain free treatment, they need to continue to take some form of pain medication. Unfortunately, their options are limited to opiate or opiate substitute medications. Most of these medications are also highly addictive. The chronic pain patient is left with addiction treatment and medication management, addiction, or a lifetime of pain.
Speed of Addiction to Opiates
Although many people do not get addicted after just one use, others describe just a normal course of opiates causing severe withdrawal symptoms. It is possible to become addicted within a few days of even light opiate use. Even so-called safe opiate derivatives such as Suboxone are somewhat addictive.
Many of the opiate derivatives, opioids, and opiates begin to change the pathways in the brain as soon as someone starts using them. The heavier the use the more receptors are affected. After extended use the receptors become permanently damaged. This damage often causes severe emotional and physical side effects as well as withdrawal.
The speed at which the addiction takes hold and the damage it does can be mitigated if you seek treatment as soon as you realize that there is a problem. For more information on opiate addiction treatment or to find treatment for yourself or a loved one, call us at 800-405-7172.