How Does Opiate Addiction Start?

How Does Opiate Addiction Start?

So much has been written and talked about today regarding opiate addiction. Many individuals don’t know how to determine if they are indeed addicted to opiates or if they are not. We will list here some of the criteria for opiate addiction, and you can come to your own conclusion. Opiate addiction is the cause of more overdose deaths in the United States today than any other drug. Opiate addiction is at epidemic proportions in the US today, and the figures only seem to rise every year.

No one sets out to become addicted to opiates or any other drug for that matter. Many addictions start out with individuals taking their prescribed medication as it is directed. After taking this same medication over a long period, the person develops a tolerance to the drug, and it takes more of it to bring the same effects as felt when just beginning the medication. This person will take more of the dosage at once or take the doses closer together than prescribed. This is how the addiction starts. After taking a larger amount of the drug, the body becomes physically dependent on the substance.

Once you are physically dependent on a substance, such as opiates, discontinuing the drug will cause withdrawal symptoms because the body has become accustomed to having it in the system. Your body will go through a period of readjusting to not having the drug. These withdrawal symptoms can be very uncomfortable but, as a rule, are not life-threatening. Some of these withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal cramping with diarrhea
  • Muscle aches and body pains
  • Tearing of the eyes and runny nose
  • Strong cravings for opiates
  • Depression, anxiety, and irritability
  • Insomnia

Another sign of opiate addiction is evident when your doctor stops prescribing your medication. If your physician no longer prescribes the medication for you and you feel that you must have it to function, you are more than likely addicted to the substance. Many individuals will get their drugs from friends or family for as long as possible. When this no longer works, they begin stealing either the drugs or valuables and money for obtaining the opiates illegally. When purchasing these painkillers on the street, they are very expensive.

Once a person has started obtaining the drugs illegally, they often turn to heroin as a replacement because it is much cheaper than painkillers. Heroin is also an opiate that produces the same effects as prescription painkillers. Once someone has started buying these drugs illegally, much of their time is spent on necessary activities in order to obtain the drugs.

Other Criteria Used in Determining Opiate Addiction

Following is a list of other signs of opiate addiction. Do any of these pertain to you or a loved one?

  • Cravings and a strong desire to use opiates
  • Tolerance (needing more and more to achieve desired effects)
  • Unsuccessful attempts to cut down or stop usage
  • Much time is spent in an attempt to acquire the drugs
  • Neglecting obligations at home, work, or school
  • No longer interested in social or recreational activities
  • Continued opiate use in spite of physical and relationship problems

Opiate addiction is extremely dangerous, and many individuals end up overdosing and losing their lives. Don’t be one of those people. If you are struggling with opiate addiction, seek help before it’s too late. Most inpatient addiction treatment centers today have detoxification right at the facility, so you won’t have to go elsewhere for detoxing before admittance to the treatment facility. Everything can be done in one place.


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