Individuals all around the country are being affected by the opioid epidemic on a daily basis. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH), anywhere from 26 to 36 million Americans struggle with an opiate addiction. The harmful stigma of addiction keeps many of these individuals from getting the help they need to obtain a life of sobriety through recovery. Learning about what it’s really like to struggle with an opiate addiction can open the eyes of many individuals who keep the perpetual stigma alive so that those in need are no longer embarrassed or kept from receiving the help they need. It is possible to live a happy and productive life after an active opiate addiction. Eliminating harmful stigmas and opening our minds to walking in one another’s shoes can help these individuals live a new life of recovery.
Opiate vs. Opioid: What’s the Difference?
You may be wondering, much like much of the world’s population, what exactly the difference between an opiate and opioid is? Although they are very similar in chemical structure and provide many of the same effects, there is one characterizing difference between the two; development. Opiates are derived directly from the natural alkaloids found in the sap of the opium plant, which makes them productive for managing symptoms of pain. Opioids, on the other hand, are synthetically produced (man-made) and are made to mimic the effects of opiates. Opioids are usually used in medicinal settings but additionally have the potential for abuse and can lead to the cycle of active addiction.
Examples of Opiates Include:
Examples of Opioids Include:
- Oxycodone (Percocet, OxyContin, Percodan)
- Hydrocodone (Vicodin, Lorcet, Lortab)
- Pethidine (Demerol)
- Hydromorphone (Dilaudid)
Prescription Opioids: Medical Practice to Street Use
When people think about the opioid addiction epidemic, they picture individuals using illicit opioids like heroin. Although many individuals affected by the epidemic eventually overdose on opiates, the majority’s cycle of addiction began with a dependence on prescription opioids. In reality, prescription opioids help many people suffering from chronic conditions, injury, or surgery because of their pain-reducing characteristics. But, when taken without the consult of a doctor, once a prescription is expired or used for personal reasons, prescription opioids have the potential to turn a life upside down. Many times, individuals who have once been prescribed with prescription opioids become dependent on the drugs. Once the prescription refills stop, the dependence still persists. These individuals may turn to self-medicating painful withdrawal symptoms by doctor shopping, using family or friend prescriptions, or even purchasing illegal opiates on the street. Ultimately, although the nation is overwhelmed with the opiate epidemic, opioid prescription medications most definitely play a part in expanding and perpetuating the problem.
The Process of Opiate Addiction
At first, you take a pill to deal with the pain. It works. So you start taking them more often to mask the pain longer and more frequently. Then, you find that your usual dose isn’t as effective, so you start upping the quantity. Eventually, you find that the pills aren’t working as they used to, and you’re actually feeling worse instead of better. You decide to quit and stop using immediately. Shortly, you start to experience agitating withdrawal symptoms like extreme cravings, depression, sweating, and nausea. You know the only thing that can ease your discomfort is the pills, so you begin again.
This example is often the cycle of tolerance, dependence, and addiction. Rarely does a person plan to become addicted. Rather, they plan to solve their painful issues by using illicit drugs or prescription medications. Instead, they cure symptoms of pain for a short while and ultimately fall victim to the brain changing disease of opiate addiction.
There is Still Hope for Those Struggling with Opiate Addiction
Although the opiate addiction epidemic is still rampant, there is still hope for those afflicted with opiate addiction. Treatment is effective, and the growing discovery and use of alternative methods is showing great promise. If you are struggling with an opiate addiction, you can get the help that you need to become free from addiction today. View the programs offered at Wellness Retreat Recovery on our website and give us a call at 888-821-0238.