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Opiate Addiction
Symptoms and Signs


What is Opiate Addiction?

The power of Opiate addiction destroys lives every day. Opiate addiction can hinder the physical, emotional and financial aspects of their lives. The darkest days of an Opiate addiction reflect the isolation of a lonely and hopeless state. No one plans on becoming an Opiate addict. The turmoil that results from an Opiate addiction can ultimately end in major health issues, depression and even death by intention or not. Opiate addiction is a growing epidemic in the United States, with the abuse of heroin and prescription pain medications continuing to grow.

According to The National Institute on Drug Abuse:In 2009, approximately seven million people reported past month non-medical use of psychotherapeutic drugs (2.8 percent of the U.S. population). Between 1991 and 2009, prescriptions for stimulants increased from 5 million to nearly 40 million, an 8-fold increase, and opioid analgesics increased from about 45 million to approximately 180 million, more than a 4-fold increase.

Opiate addiction is classified as a central nervous system disorder. It is caused by continuous and sustained opiate intake. Opiates are highly addictive drugs and over time users develop a tolerance for the drug. After using opiates for some time, the nerve cells in the brain, which would otherwise be producing natural opiates such as endorphins, cease to function normally. The body stops producing endorphins naturally because it is receiving opiates instead which it comes to depend on receiving. The nerve cells begin to degenerate that naturally produce endorphins and a physical dependency to an external supply of opiates is formed. Abruptly stopping the use of opiates can cause withdrawal symptoms, which can be life threatening.

The words opiates and opioids are often used interchangeably. The difference is that the term opiates refers to the natural opium alkaloids while opioids are synthetic or man-made. There are varying degrees of how man-made or natural an opiate may be ranging from natural opiates, semi-synthetic and fully synthetic.

Types of Opiates

Opiates are introduced to an individual in many forms. An addiction to pain killers or opiates can begin innocently enough with pain management after an injury or surgery. Opiate is the key ingredient to many prescription pain medications as well as heroin. The rise an Opiate addiction is projected through patients of pain management.

Commonly Abused Prescription Medications Include:
  • Dilaudid
  • Lorcet and Lortab
  • OxyContin
  • Percocet and Percodan
  • Tylox
  • Vicodin
When the prescription and the pain are gone, generally what is left is a physical dependence on the drug. Like any drug and alcohol addiction, opiate addiction is marked by an inability to control drug use, obsessive and compulsive craving and use of a drug, and continued use despite negative physical, emotional and social consequences. If someone is unsure if they are suffering from a prescription painkiller addiction it is important to know the signs.

An addiction to pain killers or opiates can begin innocently enough with pain management after an injury or surgery. When the prescription and the pain are gone, sometimes what is left is a physical dependence on the drug.

Opiate Addiction

Like any drug and alcohol addiction, opiate addiction is marked by an inability to control drug use, obsessive and compulsive craving and use of a drug, and continued use despite negative physical, emotional and social consequences. Some of the signs and symptoms of opiate abuse, painkiller addiction, and narcotic addiction may include:
  • Restlessness and irritability
  • Hyperactive behavior
  • Poor coordination ability
  • Poor Concentration
  • Poor judgment
  • Slurred and slow speech
  • Euphoria alternating with extreme depression
  • Accelerated heartbeat (which can result in coma or death)

Opiate Withdrawal Syndrome

Detoxing from any drug is not a pleasant experience. It can be quite painful to detox with out medical intervention. However with certain substances like alcohol and opiates abruptly ceasing to use the drug without medical monitoring and treatment can be deadly.

Depending on the length of use, the dose used and the frequency of use, quitting "cold turkey" can cause seizure, heart failure, permanent damage to the cardiopulmonary and nervous system and result in death.

Symptoms of Opiate Withdrawal Include:
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Chills and Sweating
  • Irritability and Panic Attacks
  • Intense muscle and bone pain

Opiate Addiction Treatment

The extreme discomfort from opiate withdrawals during detox can be significantly reduced with medication. Subutex and suboxone are two common drugs used to treat opiate dependence."The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the approval of Subutex (buprenorphine hydrochloride) and Suboxone tablets (buprenorphine hydrochloride and naloxone hydrochloride) for the treatment of opiate dependence. Subutex and Suboxone treat opiate addiction by preventing symptoms of withdrawal from heroin and other opiates. These products represent two new formulations of buprenorphine. The first of these formulations, Subutex, contains only buprenorphine and is intended for use at the beginning of treatment for drug abuse. The other, Suboxone, contains both buprenorphine and the opiate antagonist naloxone, and is intended to be the formulation used in maintenance treatment of opiate addiction. Naloxone has been added to Suboxone to guard against intravenous abuse of buprenorphine by individuals physically dependent on opiates." - Food and Drug Administration, FDA Talk Paper T02-28 October 8, 2002.


 


 
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