You may have heard more about the negative effects of opioids recently. Opioid abuse is a serious problem in the United States. Within this post, we explain the facts of this epidemic and how to find help if you struggle with an opioid addiction yourself.
Our supportive team at Drug, Alcohol, Mental Health Counseling & Evaluation Services, Inc. in Honolulu proudly offers services to help with opioid addiction. As specialists in the field of opioid abuse, we can walk you through the steps involved in treatment for you or your loved ones.
Here are some facts about the opioid epidemic you might not be aware of yet.
When are opioids prescribed?
You might have seen depictions of opioid abuse where a doctor prescribes a medication like OxyContin to help after a painful injury. The problem is that many people become addicted to prescribed opioids and can’t manage their pain without them.
Taking certain opioids consistently while upping your dose over time may lead to increased tolerance. Eventually, this can cause some people to turn to illegal opioids such as heroin.
Opioids also slow down your breathing, and taking too many can put you at risk of an overdose. There’s even a chance of this happening if you take them as prescribed.
How opioids work
Opioids work in a unique way compared to other pain medications: They block pain receptors in your brain but also cause a feeling of pleasure. Opioids are addictive because you can not only come to rely on them for pain relief, but also start taking more to feel good.
Your risk of addiction increases the longer you’ve been on opioids, if you start snorting or crushing them, or if you have certain risk factors such as a personal or family history of substance abuse.
Options for chronic pain
The opioid epidemic is difficult to combat because opioids can be extremely useful medications when you suffer from pain. However, while pharmaceutical companies have claimed certain opioids are non-addictive and suitable for long-term use, there is no specific evidence that they should be a long-term solution to chronic pain.
It can be hard to find suitable alternatives because the underlying mechanisms of chronic pain are poorly understood. This can make it difficult to create non-addictive and effective pain relief.
Scientists are keen to develop medication that helps with chronic pain without being addictive or dangerous for long-term use. Some scientists are considering drugs that work similarly to opioids without the same addiction and overdose risks.
Other scientists are trying to create opioids that don’t cause a feeling of pleasure, which ensures they become less addictive. They are also working to develop opioids that do not cause slower breathing to reduce the risk of an overdose.
If you or your loved one needs help with opioid addiction, feel free to call our friendly team at Drug, Alcohol, Mental Health Counseling & Evaluation Services, Inc. at (808) 400-5003. You can also book online or use our contact form to receive additional information.