Opioids Detox Program

Opioids are a category of substances that includes heroin and prescription medications like Vicodin, OxyContin, morphine, fentanyl, and many others. As nervous system depressants, opioids work to eliminate an individual’s ability to feel pain while also eliciting feelings of relaxation and euphoria. Due to the pleasurable effects that opioids produce, many individuals find themselves stuck in a pattern of problematic abuse of these substances. While prescription opioids can offer immense relief for individuals who possess a legitimate medical need for them, they can also cause tremendous problems if they are consumed in a manner that is contrary to their prescribed guidelines. Furthermore, many individuals use opioids recreationally, simply to achieve a high. As individuals continue to abuse opioids, it is more likely that they will begin to experience functional problems in many areas of their lives. The longer that the abuse of opioids continues, the more susceptible these individuals become to developing an addiction to these dangerous substances. Once that type of addiction has developed, it can be exceedingly difficult to overcome without professional intervention.

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The American Psychiatric Association (APA) reports that opioid use disorder affects 0.37% of the adult population. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) states that between 26 and 36 million people abuse opioids throughout the world. In the United States, more than two million people struggle with the abuse of opioid-related prescription medications.

Causes and Risk Factors for Opioid Abuse

The causes and risk factors that have been linked to the onset of opioid use disorder are discussed briefly in the following:

Genetic: According to the APA, genetic factors play a highly significant role in increasing the likelihood that someone will begin abusing and subsequently become addicted to opioids. When a family history of substance abuse exists, whether it is a history of opioid abuse or the abuse of another type of substance, individuals are more likely to engage in similar behaviors than are those who do not the same kind of family history.

Risk Factors:

  • Family history of substance abuse and addiction
  • Personal history of abusing other types of substances
  • Having a novelty-seeking personality
  • Being in the company of other individuals who abuse opioids or other types of substances
  • Possessing an impulsive temperament

Signs and Symptoms of Opioid Abuse

The signs and symptoms that may indicate that someone is abusing opioids will vary from one person to the next, but can include the following:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • No longer adhering to responsibilities in favor of using opioids
  • Declined occupational performance
  • Engaging in drug-related crimes
  • Continuing to abuse opioids despite having the desire to stop
  • Using opioids in situations that are physically hazardous, such as while driving
  • Slurred speech
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • No longer engaging in activities that were once seen as enjoyable

Physical symptoms:

  • Drowsiness
  • Psychomotor agitation and retardation
  • Insomnia
  • Pupillary constriction

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Concentration and attention difficulties
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Cravings
  • Memory impairment
  • Impaired judgment

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • No longer finding interest in things that one once enjoyed
  • Euphoria followed by apathy
  • Depression
If you feel that you are in crisis, or are having thoughts about hurting yourself or others, please call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room immediately.

Effects of Opioid Abuse

If an individual remains in a pattern of ongoing opioid abuse, he or she is vulnerable to experiencing any number of negative effects. Examples of such effects can include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Legal problems due to engaging in criminal behavior, including incarceration
  • Occupational failure
  • Financial strife
  • Homelessness
  • Destroyed friendships
  • Loss of child custody
  • Demise of marriages or partnerships
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Disturbances of reproductive functioning in women
  • Erectile dysfunction in men
  • Seizures
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Onset of new, or worsening of current, mental illness symptoms

Co-Occurring Disorders

It is not uncommon for individuals who are stuck in the throes of an opioid addiction to be battling symptoms of other types of mental health conditions at the same time. Examples of various disorders that have been known to occur alongside opioid use disorder include:

  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Persistent depressive disorder
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Stimulant use disorder
  • Alcohol use disorder
  • Other substance use disorders

Effects of Withdrawal and Overdose

Effects of opioid withdrawal: When an individual abruptly ends his or her use of heroin, he or she is susceptible to experiencing a period of withdrawal as his or her body attempts to readjust to its previous way of functioning. This withdrawal process can be extremely uncomfortable and may include the following symptoms:

  • Muscle aching
  • Yawning
  • Pupil dilation
  • Insomnia
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Excessive sweating
  • Dysphoric mood (feeling in a constant state of unease)

Effects of opioid overdose: When an individual ingests more of an opioid substance than his or her body can metabolize or excrete, he or she is at risk for experiencing an overdose. Overdosing on any substance can be extremely dangerous, and an opioid overdose is no exception. For this reason, it is imperative that emergency medical attention be sought if an individual displays any of the following symptoms:

  • Slurred speech
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Seizures
  • Extreme confusion
  • Labored or shallow breathing
  • Severe dizziness
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