Opioids, the broader class of drug that includes both naturally-derived opiates and their synthetic counterparts, are highly effective pain relief medications. However, they also have a high potential for addiction which makes their use and prescription controversial. The rates of synthetic opioid addiction have climbed rapidly in the United States in recent years, to the point where health authorities have classified the problem as an epidemic. Opioids include prescription pain medications such as hydrocodone (Vicodin) and oxycodone (OxyContin or Percocet), as well as narcotics like fentanyl. In 2016, an estimated 11 million people had misused hydrocodone, oxycodone or fentanyl products in the last year. Between 2010 and 2014, deaths related to opioid overdoses tripled, with rates of opioid-related emergency department visits and hospitalizations steadily increasing as well.
What is Opioid Addiction?
Your body produces its own opioids called endogenous opioids — you may recognize the term “endorphins,” a type of pleasure-causing hormone linked to exercise that is one such endogenous opioid. But endogenous opioids are much weaker than their man-made counterparts. When you take synthetic opioids, the areas of your brain that are accustomed to processing endogenous opioids become overexcited. With continued use of synthetic opioids, your endogenous opioids are no longer enough to naturally dull pain or cause excitement and pleasure. You can start to feel depressed or anxious without the help of stronger synthetic opioids, which leads to dependence and in turn addiction. Over time, you can also build up a tolerance to opioids, which means that you need higher doses of the drug to achieve the same high or to avoid withdrawal symptoms. The more your tolerance builds, the higher your risk of a dangerous or fatal overdose.
Signs of Opioid Addiction
Some common signs of opioid addiction include:
- Drug-seeking behavior such as seeking new doctors or refilling prescriptions without consulting a healthcare provider
- Often seeming high — drowsy, disoriented or euphoric
- Sudden mood swings
- Flu-like withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, fever or vomiting
If you or someone close is exhibiting signs of prescription painkiller or opioid addiction, you should contact The Kimberly Center or an addiction recovery resource in your area as soon as possible. Opioid addiction is very harmful to your health, difficult to manage alone and potentially lethal, so it is necessary to seek the help of a professional healthcare provider to ensure you receive the right kind of treatment.
Treating Opioid Addiction
Withdrawal from prescription painkillers and other opioids is known for being a difficult process. It is dangerous to your health to detox from opioids alone, and it increases your chances of relapsing because it is easy to turn back to the drug to help yourself feel better. When you choose to seek professional treatment for your addiction to opioids, you can be sure that your providers will do everything they can to make sure your detox period is safe and as easy as possible. Typically, detoxing from opioids requires the use of a medication to manage withdrawal symptoms. However, if these medications are not administered properly, you can end up dependent on or addicted to them. The staff at The Kimberly Center is dedicated to making sure you do not simply switch one addiction for another. We care for our clients beyond detox so that you can continue along your path to recovery completely substance-free. In our programs, you will learn to replace drug habits with healthy ones and you will build a support system to help you when addiction becomes hard to resist. We offer a range of services that can be combined to fit your background, lifestyle and schedule, including:
- Outpatient Treatment
- Intensive Outpatient Treatment
- Residential Recovery
- Continuing Care
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 our services and to find out if our programs are right for you or your loved one, contact us today at 855-452- 3683.