Opiates, also known as opioids, are a class of drugs used for pain relief. Codeine, oxycodone and morphine are used as prescription pain medications. However, they can be harmful if used for recreational purposes. The drug can impact the brain and bring a short-term feeling of intense pleasure. Prolonged use can lead to substance abuse if taken without being prescribed by a medical practitioner. In fact, heroin is an opiate that is considered illegal. Seeing the perils associated with the unwarranted use of the drug, it becomes essential to be aware about opiate addiction and its potential harm.
Signs and symptoms of opiate addiction
Opiates are highly addictive in nature and people can fall prey to addiction without even coming to know about it. Addiction can pose serious health issues and even lead to death if not controlled in time. Therefore, the patients and their families should be well aware and vigilant about the signs and symptoms of opiate addiction. These include:
● Inability to cease or reduce the drug intake
● Increase in tolerance for the drug
● Withdrawal symptoms on stopping the use of opiates
● Impact on the quality of life at home and at work
● Excessive sleeping, fatigue and lethargy
● Extreme weight gain or loss
● Inability to stop despite health problems
● Spending too much or even resorting to crime to pay for opiates
Opiates are fast acting drugs and even a minimal intake can lead to serious consequences. Users consume it orally, inject it into the vein, inhale it through the nose or smoke it to experience the “high” feeling it gives. People get addicted easily but it is hard to get out of the habit. Opiate addiction has harmful impact on the user’s body and mind as the body craves the drug while the brain pushes the desire even further and the user wants more of it even if he understands the risks and consequences of the addiction.
Health issues associated with opiate addiction
Even though opiates are capable of alleviating pain and anxiety, they can bring more harm than good if used in the wrong way and for the wrong purposes. There are a number of health problems that can be caused by opium use without medical guidance in the long run. The negative physical and mental effects associated with opiate abuse and addiction includes the following:
● Nausea and vomiting
● Weakened immune system
● Slow breathing rate
● Elevated risk of HIV, hepatitis and other infections associated with intravenous use
● Risk of choking
● Clogged blood vessels
● Collapsed veins
● Coma (in cases of extreme overdose)
The short-lives euphoria associated with opiate use is the key reason that people get addicted to it. But they stop getting the high feeling with small amounts as they use the drug regularly. Their body craves more and it becomes practically impossible to beat the urge, despite the ill effects that it has on the body. Withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, agitation, tremors, insomnia, nausea, muscle aches and extreme physical and mental discomfort are often experienced by people trying to get rid of the addiction. This is the reason that they should avail medical guidance and treatment for addressing the challenge.
Diagnosis and treatment for opiate addiction
The patient and his family should seek medical help as soon as they suspect opiate addiction. An experienced medical practitioner can diagnose the addiction as well as the level of dependence by asking a few questions about the patient’s health history and current usage. Accordingly, he can suggest the various treatment options and also help the patient choose the one that is just right for him. Additionally, he can come up with a strategic treatment plan depending on the individual condition and needs of the patient. Here are some of the treatment strategies available for the patient:
Detoxification: Treatment is initiated with detoxification, a natural means to eliminate the opiates from the body. The therapy is usually accompanied by medication support to deal with the withdrawal symptoms
Medication: Natural detoxification is not effective for all and several addicts require medication for weaning them off the drug. The therapy encompasses administration of medically-supervised prescription opiates to help users lower the dose and gradually stop it completely.
Rehabilitation: Residential rehabilitation may be required to eradicate the addiction completely in more serious cases. Patients are made to stay in treatment facilities where they are treated with therapy and by joining support groups.
In addition to the conventional treatment measures, alternative therapies such as yoga, exercise, acupuncture, hypnosis and healing herbs are also considered effective for de-addiction. Every patient is different and requires a different treatment approach, which needs to be tailored by an expert.