When Pain Becomes a Problem-What You Need to Know About the Prescription Opioid Epidemic

When suffering from a minor ache or pain over the counter pain relievers usually are enough to provide you with relief. However, if your pain is severe enough you may be prescribed opioid. Prescription opioids are often times prescribed following surgery or injury, or for health-related conditions such as cancer. According to the Center for Disease Control, a number of prescription opioids sold to pharmacies, hospitals and doctors offices nearly quadrupled from 1999 to 2010, yet there had not been an overall change in the amount of pain Americans reported. The significant increase in the use of prescription and nonprescription opioid drug use in the United States has been labeled the opioid epidemic or the opioid crisis. According to the U.S Drug Enforcement Administration, “overdose deaths, particularly from prescription drugs and heroin, have reached epidemic levels”.

Opioid abuse is a serious public health issue that affects almost every community and family in some way. Each year addiction causes millions of illnesses, injuries and deaths among Americans. Understanding opiates and their effect is one way to look after yourself, loved ones, friends and family.

Here are six things you need to know about opioid addiction :

1. Anyone who takes prescription opioids can become addicted to them. Like other addictions, opioid addiction can affect men and women of all ages, races, ethnic groups and educational levels.

2. Opioids cause an individuals rewards system to feel an extreme rush of dopamine, which creates an extremely high level of pleasure or excitement. Our brains are naturally inclined to learn to repeat actions that stimulate our rewards system. Once you have taken opiates, your brain wants to repeat that activity, which is how addiction may develop.

3. Drug tolerance is when your body over time gets used to the effects of a drug; therefore, increasing the need to take a higher dose of the drug to get the same effect. The tolerance that individuals develop to opioids is present whether they become addicted to them or not. It is a physiological function of the body’s interaction with the medication and will occur for as long as one takes the opioid.

4. The area of your brain that regulates breathing is also affected by opioids. Due to this opioids taken in high doses can cause respiratory depression, which is a decrease in breathing. Oxygen levels begin to decrease which stops vital organs like the heart and the brain.

5. A drug called Naloxone, available as an injection or nasal spray is used as a treatment for overdoses. It works by blocking or reversing the effects of opioids and is often carried by first responders. However, anyone can be trained and prescribed Naloxone including friends, family, teachers. Find more information at the Narcon website.

6. Individuals may experience post-acute withdrawal symptoms long after abstaining from the use of opioids such as anxiety, mood swings, low energy, problems with concentration, sleep issues and irritability.

If yourself, family member or loved one is struggling with prescription opioid addiction you are not alone. Call Today to Learn About Your Options.

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