Blog - Beach House Rehab Center
opioid use progresses to addiction
January 18, 2021

When Opioid Use Progresses Into Addiction

Opioids such as morphine, OxyContin and Vicodin are effective painkillers, but the euphoria they induce also makes them highly addictive. Even people who are careful about taking these drugs in the precise dosage their doctor prescribes can be at risk of developing a substance use disorder. What makes these drugs uniquely dangerous, and how can you spot the red flags of opioid use progressing into an addiction?

How Opioids Affect the Brain and Body

When you take opioids, they bind to the opioid receptors in your brain, which send a rush of dopamine and exhilaration through your body. Less enjoyable short-term effects include dry mouth, nausea and vomiting, severe itching and confusion. 

Long-term effects of opioid use include insomnia, heart infections, liver and kidney disease, depression and substance use disorders.

When people accidentally take high doses of opioid drugs, or mix medications in hopes of magnifying their effects, an overdose can be the tragic outcome. Opioids suppress breathing and slow the heart rate, which can lead to unconsciousness and death.

Warning Signs of Opioid Addiction

Manufacturers of opioid drugs initially marketed them as being harmless, knowingly spreading misleading information to encourage health care providers to prescribe these medications to widespread population segments. Tragically, this false advertising caused the opioid epidemic to sweep the nation from coast to coast, and as a result, millions of people from all walks of life have struggled with substance misuse. 

Many states have attempted to curb the public health crisis by passing legislation to limit the amount of opioid drugs providers can legally prescribe to their patients. When people with an opioid dependency can’t get medications through legitimate means, they could turn to illicit drugs like heroin or fentanyl, which are readily available in some communities. 

How can you tell if you or someone you care about is abusing opioids? People struggling with opioid use disorder may not display symptoms right away. However, over time, there may be some signs that they need help. Many behavioral changes could signify that opioid use has progressed into an addiction. 

  • Inability to stop using drugs, despite the negative effects on your life
  • Uncontrollable cravings
  • Drowsiness
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Weight loss
  • Frequent flu-like symptoms
  • Low sex drive
  • Lack of hygiene
  • Changes in health habits
  • Secrecy and isolation
  • A willingness to lie or steal to get more drugs
  • Financial difficulties resulting from substance abuse

Drug-Free Ways to Manage Pain

If you live with chronic pain, can you find relief without using highly addictive drugs? Talk with your doctor about alternative pain management strategies that don’t increase your risk of opioid use progressing into addiction. 

  • Physical therapy: When pain stems from old injuries or repetitive motions, a physical therapist can teach you specific exercises and stretches that can realign your body, relax tight muscles and restore your full range of motion. One 2018 study found that people with back pain who worked with a physical therapist were less likely to receive an opioid prescription than those who saw their primary care doctor first.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy: Fear and anxiety can make your pain worse. CBT is a therapeutic approach that can teach you to change your behavior and thought processes for the better. A therapist who specializes in this technique will help you develop healthier strategies for responding to and coping with pain and difficult emotions.
  • Yoga: This ancient practice has a host of physical and mental health benefits. Doing yoga can improve your posture and flexibility, strengthen your core and spine and help you quiet your mind.   
  • Massage: Massage therapy is an excellent addition to any holistic wellness strategy. Professional massage therapists can help improve your circulation and flush toxins out of your body. Massage also helps you relax and promotes deeper, more restful sleep.
  • Acupuncture: Many people have found long-lasting pain relief by seeking the services of a licensed acupuncturist. By gently inserting small, fine needles into strategic points of your body, an acupuncturist can stimulate nerves to override your pain response.

Opioid Addiction Treatment at Beach House

If you’ve recognized that your opioid use has progressed into an addiction, clinically excellent detoxification and therapies can save your life. At our Florida inpatient rehab facility, we offer medication-assisted treatment to ease opioid withdrawal symptoms and curb cravings. To learn more about starting your recovery journey at Beach House, contact our caring admissions team today.