What Opioids Are and The Symptoms of Extreme Addiction
Photo by Dan Meyers on Unsplash

What Opioids Are and The Symptoms of Extreme Addiction

As the opioid crisis continues to plague communities and destroy lives across the United States, it is important to familiarize oneself with the major symptoms of this extreme addiction.

What are opioids?

The term opioid can refer both to pure opium from the poppy plant and synthetic opioids produced in labs. The latter category includes well-known recreational drugs like heroin and morphine and drugs traditionally prescribed as painkillers, like medications derived from oxycodone, which include Percocet and OxyContin.

How do opioids affect the body?

According to AION Health Group, a premier evidence-based recovery center that offers personalized recovery plans, opioids “work by altering the chemistry of the brain by rapidly binding to opioid receptors, blocking pain signals, and releasing massive amounts of the neurotransmitter, dopamine.” Opioids reduce pain and induce feelings of euphoria and well-being, hence their efficacy in treating chronic pain. However, if people begin to use opioids in high doses for sustained periods of time, their tolerance quickly rises, and they become dependent on the drugs. This begins a cycle of extreme addiction.

Common signs of opioid addiction:

Depressed Addict
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Physical symptoms of opioid addiction include changes in appetite, appearance, weight, circadian rhythm, and mood. Opioid addicts may experience tiredness and hyperactivity at various points. Some also develop blood-borne diseases from dirty needles. Withdrawal–which may frequently occur as the addict’s financial situation and relationships change–symptoms include insomnia, sweating, tremors, vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, and irritability, among many others. Other physical symptoms include scabs, poor motor skills, digestive problems, and constricted pupils.

In addition to physical symptoms, opioid addiction brings on many behavioral changes. Addicts may lose interest in activities they once enjoyed or neglect their personal hygiene. They may also become nervous, cranky, overly energetic, or erratic. As a result of their addiction, many addicts are unable to maintain employment or familial ties. They tend to self-isolate and disappear without warning or explanation. Addicts may lie about pain or make appointments with multiple doctors to secure opioid prescriptions. They may even resort to stealing money or medication from loved ones. Finally, people with opioid use disorders have a high risk of developing psychiatric conditions like depression, irritability, paranoia, and cognitive impairments, like difficulty concentrating and slowed thinking.

How can opioid addiction be treated?

Opioid addiction treatment is often a long and arduous process, but it can be effective with the right tools, attitude, and support network. Treatment programs like those offered at AION Health Center provide comprehensive strategies to address opioid addiction holistically. The facilities comprise “partial hospitalization extreme addiction treatment plans, along with outpatient detox, intensive outpatient, and MAT therapy (medically assisted treatment).”

In conclusion, the wide range of opioid addiction symptoms can make opioid addiction feel like an insidious, seemingly incurable disease. However, as challenging as opioid addiction might be, it does not have to be a death sentence. With the aid of rehabilitation centers like AION Health Center, opioid addicts recover every day.

Featured Photo by Dan Meyers on Unsplash