Opioids are a class of drug. Prescription opioids include oxycodone, codeine, morphine; illegal ones include opium and heroin.
Opioids are very addictive. They trigger a temporary euphoria in the brain, which sets up a dopamine reward reaction. Users need to take more and more opioids to reach same level of pleasure, which can lead to dependency or addiction. Opioid withdrawal often involves severely unpleasant symptoms.
Effects of Opioid Abuse
Long-term opioid abuse can cause serious health issues, such as:
- Brain damage
- Nausea and vomiting
- Weakened immune system
- Slow breathing
- Increased risk of HIV and hepatitis (intravenous use)
- Collapsed veins
- Clogged blood vessels
- Choking risk
Who is at Risk?
Anyone using opioids could develop an addiction. To the left shows an infographic designed by Drugabuse.gov to show why teens use prescription pills.
Twelve reasons teens use prescription drugs:8
- 62%: Easy to get from parent’s medicine cabinets
- 52%: Available everywhere
- 51%: They are not illegal drugs
- 50%: Easy to get through other people’s prescriptions
- 49%: Can claim to have prescription if caught
- 43%: They are cheap
- 35%: Safer to use than illegal drugs
- 33%: Less shame attached to using
- 32%: Easy to purchase over the internet
- 32%: Fewer side effects than street drugs
- 25%: Can be used as study aids
- 21%: Parents don’t care as much if caught
Avoid illicit drugs and follow recommendations on prescription painkillers.
Having a family history of drug dependence also seems to raise a person’s risk of addiction. Moreover, people who already abuse alcohol or other drugs, as well as people who have a mental illness, are at greater risk for developing an opioid problem.
Signs that Someone May Have an Opioid Addiction
Opioid addicts will often do anything to get access to the drugs, regardless of the consequences. Some signs of addiction includes:
- Heightened tolerance for opioids
- Inability to stop using
- Withdrawal symptoms when the user does stop
- Desire to keep using despite negative health effects
- Broken relationships
- Loss of employment
- Spending lots of money on drugs
- Excessive weight loss or gain
- Turning to crime to pay for drugs
Are you or someone you know dependent on opioids? See if you qualify for Segal Institute’s clinical research study on opioids today!