As one of the oldest known drugs in the world, opiates have a long history and have evolved significantly to the forms that they now take. The substance is found naturally as an alkaloid compound inside the poppy plant, and has been extracted for use as both an anesthetic and a pain management medication since ancient times. In fact, various opiates, such as heroin, were commonly incorporated into pharmaceutical drugs up until the last century. While opium and its derivates are incredibly effective for medical use, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration made it illegal to use heroin in medications in the 1920s, after it began to notice the climbing rate of addiction.
What are Opiates?
Opiates are now classified as Schedule II drugs in the U.S., meaning that, although they have a high degree of medical utility, they are known to be extremely addictive. Individuals who struggle with opiate use are put at risk for both physical and psychological dependence on the drugs. These drugs can take many forms, but the most commonly used opiates in the United States are currently heroin, morphine, codeine, and opium. Opiates like these are derived straight from the poppy plant and often provide no accepted medical utility. More commonly in use today are opioids, which produce similar effects to opiates but are synthetic or partially synthetic. Many opioids are prescribed by doctors and are often used in addiction treatment centers, such as methadone, Perocet, Vicodin, Oxycodone, and Demerol. Both opiates and opioids can be used in various ways, from pills and intravenous injection to snorting and smoking.
Signs and Effects of Opiate Abuse
Although every individual is unique and will experience addiction differently, there are many common indicators, both physical and mental, that you or a loved one many be misusing and/or abusing opiates. The most common physical characteristics include:
- excessive drowsiness/sleepiness
- numbness in the body
- small pupils
- shallow breathing
- flushed skin or rashes
- slurred speech
- the appearance of confusion or a slowness to respond in conversation
People struggling with opiate addiction also commonly display different psychological symptoms, including:
- poor sense of judgement
- memory lapses
- inability to concentrate
Risks of Prolonged Opiate Use
Using opiates for an extended amount of time can cause severe risk for both the body and the mind. Prolonged use can cause irreparable damage and even lead to death via overdose or through health problems caused as a result of drug-taking. Using opiates for too long can cause inflammation of the heart, which in turn puts the individual at risk for a stroke or heart attack. Individuals who use illicit opiates via injection further put themselves at risk for contracting HIV or AIDS, as needle sharing is common among drug users. Long-term opiate abuse has also been linked to psychological mood disorders, namely depression, since the drug causes hormonal imbalances. Anxiety, reduced sex drive, and infertility have also been identified in opiate abusers. While all of these results and side effects are daunting, overdose is certainly the most severe risk and extreme consequence of any type of drug use. Heroin-related as well as prescription opioid overdoses are currently at a high in the U.S., signifying an epidemic in the health sector.
However, this does not mean that there should be an absence of hope. Help is available to those who are searching for it, and people who are struggling with opiate abuse who are interested in treatment can seek assistance immediately. There are different treatment types available, depending on you or your loved one’s circumstances, so rest assured that there is certainly a way to aid in the battle of overcoming opiate addiction.
Overcoming Opiate Addiction: What to Expect
There is no ‘one-size fits all’ form of opiate treatment, and the process will vary depending on you and your needs. Treatment is a lengthy procedure, requiring a lot of mental strength and stamina. The treatment process, along with recovery, becomes an intimately personal experience, allowing you to identify and recognize your own needs. Customizing the approach to treatment and recovery with tailored programs allows the process to be tweaked based on your personal progress, ensuring that you get the most efficient and appropriate care for you.
Outpatient treatment services do not require the addicted person to move into a treatment facility; rather, treatment and therapy are conducted in daily in doctor offices and in therapeutic groups. Outpatient treatment is more suitable to people who have not experienced the extremes of addiction, as remaining in one’s natural environment makes it very challenging to break the cycle. It’s incredibly challenging and unlikely that a patient will detox and go through withdrawal on his/her own, but it’s dangerous to undergo such a process without trained medical staff on hand. People struggling with chronic opiate abuse can rest more assuredly in an inpatient treatment facility, where their physical and mental health can be monitored and supported.
Inpatient, or ‘residential’ treatment options at our Miami drug and alcohol treatment centers are most suitable for individuals whose opiate use has made significant detrimental impacts on his/her daily life. When opting for inpatient treatment, you are signing up for a challenging path, complete with total detoxification and therapy. All treatment centers have their own requirements, rules, procedures, and treatment strategies and will take individual circumstances into account, there are several key steps that are common across the spectrum of opiate addiction treatment.
After the initial intake procedure, the patient will begin the detoxification period to initiate the rehabilitation and treatment process. Detox is a crucial first step to recovery, but it is the most physically challenging and draining part. The process can be severe, which is why supervision by trained medical staff is crucial. Having the support and assistance present during and after the detox period, when withdrawal symptoms present themselves, is also beneficial for a healthy start to therapeutic treatment and to recovery as a whole.
Making the decision to move toward living a healthy, sober life is a journey, one that takes time and care. It will not be easy, nor will it be instantaneous, but overcoming opiate addiction is certainly worth it in the long run. The first step is admitting a problem and deciding that you want help. If you are ready to start your journey toward recovery, contact us today at (877) 978-1208