Prescription drug abuse is defined as being, “the use of medication without a prescription, in a way other than as prescribed, or for the experience or feelings elicited.” Prescription abuse is growing among populations and one of the most commonly abused includes opioids.
What are opioids?
Opioids are medications that relieve pain and have morphine-like effects. The primary use for prescription opioids is to relieve pain. Medications that fall into the opioid category include:
- Hydrocodone (e.g., Vicodin)
- Oxycodone (e.g., Percocet)
- Morphine (e.g., Kadian, Avinza)
- Codeine and other related drugs
How do opioids affect the body?
When taken, opioids attach themselves to opioid receptors which are specific proteins that are found in your body. When they attach they reduce pain. Opioids can cause drowsiness, mental confusion, nausea and other symptoms. Some may experience a high on opioid medications which can cause addiction.
What happens when you are addicted to opioids?
Opioid dependence can lead to opioid addiction which can be a chronic and progressive disease which can be fatal. Long-term opioid use can cause mental and physical effects, such as:
- Slower breathing rate
- Increased risk of HIV or infectious diseases
- Nausea/ vomiting
- Increased risk of hepatitis
- Risk of choking
- Collapsed veins or clogged blood vessels
What are the symptoms of opioid abuse and addiction?
- Inability to stop taking the drug or reduce the usage
- Withdrawal symptoms when stopped
- Increased tolerance for the drug
- Impact on quality of life
- Excessive sleep or weight gain
People who abuse or become addicted to opioids are at risk for serious health problems and even death, there is hope for sufferers through treatment which can be found through detoxification, medication, treatment facilities and alternative therapies.