What exactly is an opiate, and what makes these such a big issue? What has caused opiates in their varied forms to become the number one epidemic in the United States today? And what should we know about this to make sure we don’t become part of the 17.44 million estimated opiates/opium addicts currently? (2014 statistics)
An opiate is a natural substance, that acts on the opioid receptors in the brain to produce effects that help with pain relief. It makes you sleepy and induces sleep like an anesthetic. Sounds simple, and necessary for some situations. Opiates come from the opium poppy found in forms of heroin, morphine, and codeine. Opioids, very similar in nature and relief, are synthetic in nature. Much of this synthetic form is found in prescription drugs such as Vicodin, Oxycontin, Oxycodone, Methadone, and Percocet. These all help numb pain and give relief of current anxiety, with drowsiness, rest and sleep common reactions. However, opiates and opioids are easy to build up a tolerance in your physical system, which makes your body crave more and higher doses. When these things are not available, many people turn to heroin and morphine to help with the withdrawals of the drug. And then it creates a dependence on street drugs that needs a drug treatment center to help resolve.
Numb The Pain Away
Let’s numb the pain — for many, it starts with an injury. This could come from sports or an accident that happened. You go to the doctor, and they treat your injury. But the pain is bothering you a great deal. The doctor writes a prescription for a pain killer, and you begin to take it. But there still is a pain, so you start taking more than prescribed to fight it off. And you can’t sleep—the pills make you drowsy, so you take more. And soon your body becomes more tolerant of them. Taking more helps the pain, helps you sleep, numbs whatever is going on. And what comes next is your need for these all the time. Prescription pills can be expensive, and hard to get without your doctor’s permission, and finding the next thing to make you feel the same without the expense is first in your mind. Where do you go? Heroin and codeine are much less expensive and provide the same feelings. Great! Not so. You are addicted to a substance that is very difficult to withdraw from. And withdrawal and getting off these is something very difficult without physical support. Drug rehab and/or substance treatment center offers a strong and supportive detox program that takes the body off the symptoms of the drugs your body has gotten used to. Many will use suboxone or methadone to help with this detox process, and then leave you on this for a long period of time. It is best to taper back in slow doses when on these drugs because these are very addictive as well. These are all difficult to stop using, and a strong plan of cutting back gradually under supervision is the best way to make this happen.
Are You a Drug Addict Now?
This change of substances has affected your brain and its receptors, and the body can become very capable of functioning without these in your system. But some of the people that take these drugs, often just for the numbness and not because of any previous pain, are easily addicted to any substance that affects your thinking and reasoning. Because of this, drug rehabs are necessary for many to get to the underlying reasons for why you want to numb and get away from life. These substance abuse treatment centers are staffed with understanding support to help you find your true self without the help of these opiates/opioids that take away all the hope you had for your life. You may be an addict and need to work through all of this. But maybe you just got involved in this through peer pressure, doctor’s prescriptions, or other ways that didn’t really have to do with any mental situation. Because of this, you still need the help of trained professionals who can get your body back to where you were prior to the adding of drugs to your system.
Why is There an Opiate Epidemic?
The opioid epidemic is the number one epidemic in America today—it affects any age person, and these drugs, whether synthetic or natural, are mixed with other materials such as Fentanyl or Carfentanil (only for veterinarian’s use) that are 100 to 1000 times worse than the original drug’s results.
Prescription drugs like Oxycontin started out with many doctors not realizing the addicting effects, and prescribing without any thought of addiction issues. Now they are prescribed to all ages of people and used by all ages to deal with pain, numbing, and relief of life. Many people are now overdosing with these drugs—especially heroin—and without Narcan, the overdose is deadly. Narcan is now being carried by most emergency responders as well as hospitals and clinics as the way to help someone in the overdose state. But the number of overdoses keeps increasing: 16,500 die every year from prescription opiates, 2.6 million Americans had an opioid addiction in 2013, and every 19 minutes someone dies from an overdose by painkillers. According to the CDC, Overdose Death have surpassed auto accident deaths.
These drugs need to be taken very carefully and under a watchful eye to prevent any possibility of addiction. And with heroin being the easy jump from these painkillers, the easy availability is creating more and more addicts throughout the nation. Watch out for this Lock on your Life—these can create a lock that only drug rehabs or complete abstinence will be able to unlock.