If you are one of the many people addicted to opiate drugs, you are far from alone. As many as one in four people who are prescribed opioids become addicted to them. Recent data from the CDC shows that opioid overdoses have spiked dramatically in recent years; it estimates that more than 130 people in the US die every single day from an opioid overdose.
Opioid misuse in the United States costs $78.5 billion a year, including costs of healthcare, lost productivity, and criminal justice proceedings. Addiction is extremely destructive, and the opioid epidemic has swept the nation, leaving destruction in its path. Opiate addiction can be fatal; however, not all overdoses end in death, and many addicts recover and lead healthy, normal lives.
What are opiates and why are they so addictive?
Opiates and opioids are terms that are used interchangeably in the medical community because they affect the same receptors in the brain and have the same effect on the central nervous system.
- Opiates tend to refer to naturally occurring drugs derived from the opium plant, such as morphine.
- Opioids are lab-made drugs derived from morphine, including hydrocodone and fentanyl.
These medications are prescribed to relieve acute pain; however, prolonged use commonly leads to abuse and addiction. These drugs are extremely dangerous – opiate addiction is the leading cause of drug overdose in the US. More than 47,000 people died from opiate addiction in 2017 alone.
These drugs are highly addictive because of the flood of artificial endorphins released when someone takes them. This rush of euphoria is so intense that the only way a person can experience it again is by using the drug again.
Eventually, the brain stops creating those endorphins naturally, so a person can only experience that rush when using the drug. They are unable to feel pleasure naturally. Withdrawing from opiates without professional supervision is downright uncomfortable, so most people attempting to quit cold turkey relapse.
There are several stages of opiate addiction:
- Physical dependence
- Psychological dependence
What does the recovery process look like?
Although it’s extremely easy to become addicted to opiates, and recovery is much harder, opioid addiction is a highly curable disease. Especially when you consider the toll opioid addiction takes on families, career, and finances, pursuing sobriety becomes that much more attainable.
For those suffering, their best bet is to seek the help of a qualified addiction specialist. That person can help map out the road to recovery for an individual patient. There is a multitude of options available, including but not limited to the well-known options such as supervised detox, in-patient rehab, and outpatient therapy sessions.
Life after addiction
Once you’ve kicked the habit, your new lifestyle begins. A counselor can work with you or your loved one to ensure you’re all set up for success. This includes evaluating your living situation, job, and friend group. You will learn more about your personal triggers for substance abuse, and begin the hard work of repairing any relationships that suffered during the addiction.
How long till your brain recovers from opiates?
Opiates are so addictive because they quickly rewire the way your brain perceives rewards and excitement, often in just a few weeks. Studies have shown that people had measurable changes in their brains after just a month of using morphine. These parts of the brain are responsible for the regulation of cravings, pain, and emotions, in addition to long-term memory and learning.
There is research that indicates opiates affect long-term behavior patterns, even after the pleasure of using the drugs is over.
Opiates take a long time to recover from the initial withdrawal symptoms, including anxiety, depression, low energy, concentration problems, sleep troubles, and irritability. The recovery process can take weeks or months as the brain recalibrates itself. For these reasons, it’s critically important to seek professional treatment for drug abuse.
Remember, if you or a loved one is suffering from opiate abuse or addiction, professional, discreet help is available. One of our qualified addiction specialists at United Recovery Project can help. Contact us today to learn more.