As a classification of drugs, opiates include any drug derived from chemical compounds found in the opium poppy plant. You may have also heard the term opioid, which is a broader classification that includes both opiates and their synthetic counterparts. Synthetic opioids copy the chemical structure of opiates but are man-made. Though opiates are a smaller subset of opioids, they include some of the oldest and commonly-known opioids like morphine, heroin, codeine and opium. Opiates are commonly used as pain relievers. Opium is one of the oldest known pain relief medications throughout human history, with roots as far back as the Mesopotamian cultures of 3400 BC. Morphine was medically derived from opium by doctors in the 1800s and was very popular during the Civil War but quickly became controversial for its high potential for addiction, a known characteristic of all opiates and opioids. The National Survey on Drug Abuse and Health estimates approximately 950,000 people aged 12 or older had abused morphine, heroin or codeine in the United States in 2016.
What is Opiate Addiction?
When you use any mind-altering substance, you are disrupting the way your brain is communicating with the rest of your body. This disruption is what causes you to feel pleasurably drunk or high. If you use a mind-altering substance regularly for an extended period of time, your brain and body will become accustomed to communicating in this new, altered way. As they adjust to being under the influence of a drug or alcohol, you will start to become dependent on the substance — you will experience withdrawal symptoms without it as your brain and body forget how to function normally while sober. Dependence quickly becomes an addiction as you start to crave opiates and use them habitually even when you know it is harmful.
Another danger of opiate addiction is their high likelihood of tolerance development. When you abuse a psychoactive substance, you start to need higher quantities of it over time to achieve a high. This effect is called building a tolerance. Studies show that opiate abusers develop a tolerance quickly compared to other drugs, and even in a clinical setting it is common to increase opiate dosages by nearly ten times the original amount over the course of treatment. When you use higher amounts of opiates, you increase your risk of a dangerous or fatal overdose.
Signs of Opiate Addiction
Some common signs of opiate addiction include:
- Constant drowsiness or confusion
- Antisocial behavior
- Seeking prescriptions for opiates from different doctors
- Mood swings
- Flu-like withdrawal symptoms including vomiting, fever and fatigue
If you or a loved one may be addicted to or abusing opiates, do not hesitate to contact The Kimberly Center or an addiction recovery center in your area right away. Seeking professional help for opiate addiction is the best way to make sure you or your loved one receives the right kind of treatment.
Treating Opiate Addiction
Opiate addiction can require a medically-monitored detox period, and always requires long-term therapy and management. Since the symptoms of withdrawal from opiates can be physically harmful, it can be helpful to use medications or other clinical care techniques to make the withdrawal process safer and easier. At The Kimberly Center, it is important to us that using medications during the detox process will not lead to dependence on a different substance. To prevent this, we focus our long-term programs on personal empowerment. We foster self- confidence, build support systems and encourage healthy hobbies and habits. In our programs, you can find the right tools to live substance-free and to find recovery without relapse.
We also know that everyone’s experience with addiction is different and that addiction recovery is most successful when your treatment plan works with your lifestyle and your background. Our programs are designed to be customized to meet your needs, and we are dedicated to working with our clients to make sure their needs are met at every stage of recovery and beyond. Your treatment options at The Kimberly Center include:
Contact The Kimberly Center
The Kimberly Center is proud to provide evidence-based, compassionate addiction treatment for adults in Fort Myers, Florida. We focus on giving you the attention and tools you need to learn to live your life completely substance-free, emphasizing your inner strength and the importance of a strong support system. To learn more about the services we offer and to find out if our programs are right for you or someone close to you, contact us today at 855-452- 3683.