Understanding Opioid Drug Abuse

Addiction is the psychological and behavioral impulses characterized by cravings, compulsion, and the inability to stop using despite negative consequences.

Substance addictions include alcohol, tobacco, opioids (painkillers or heroin), prescription drugs (such as anti-anxiety medications or sleeping pills), marijuana, cocaine, inhalants, and other substances. Each addiction has a different set of symptoms and effects on the body and each addiction has different options for treatment.

Signs of addiction include:

  • Taking a substance more often and in higher quantities than intended
  • A desire to reduce use without success
  • Significant time used to acquire, use and recover from a substance
  • Feeling increased cravings for the substance
  • Reduced performance at work, home or school
  • Poor relationships with family, friends, and within social circles due to continued use
  • Engaging in risky behaviors that put oneself or others in danger
  • Inclination to criminal activity
  • Developing tolerance, requiring greater usage to achieve the same effect
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms after reducing use (physical symptoms vary based on substance used)

Identify signs of addiction first, then determine whether the addiction is to opioids in order to seek professional help from a qualified addiction specialist. For example, verifying that a person you care about is addicted to opioids will help you understand the type of care to search for to get the best treatment program specific to the addiction that needs to be addressed.

It is important to understand that addiction is no longer a voluntary response on behalf of the individual. Addiction is a chronic brain disease that has changed the structure and functioning of the brain, affecting a person’s judgment, decision-making, reaction to stress, memory, ability to learn and behavioral control.

Individuals needing help should have the support, patience and understanding of those that care about them and should be encouraged to seek help from a specialist. Similar to interacting with individuals who have other diseases, compassion, encouragement and positivity are a source of motivation to get treatment and help to provide resolve to stay in treatment.