Over 2 million people aged 12 and older were diagnosed with an opioid use disorder (OUD) in the United States, comprising 0.7 percent of the population. OUD is a medical diagnosis given to those who suffer serious impairment or distress due to the continuous use of opioids. While other definitions like opioid addiction do exist, OUD is more commonly accepted among healthcare professionals.
OUD diagnosis is based on specific criteria, ranging from unsuccessful attempts to reduce or stop opioid use to social or family problems. People with the disorder may report having trouble meeting obligations at work, school, or home. However, as OUD is an extensive disorder, healthcare specialists assess many more signs and symptoms to provide proper diagnosis and treatment.
What are Opioids?
Opioids are a powerful substance that can reduce the pain preceptors in the brain and come in a variety of forms including prescription medications (such as oxycontin, hydrocodine, fentanyl, etc.), illegal drugs (such as heroin), illicit substances (including fentanyl analogs), natural plants like opium poppy, and man made.
In 2018, misuse of opioids occurred in approximately 10.3 million people ages 12 or older. Over time, regular use of opioids causes physical dependence and tolerance. While heavy usage for a few weeks can result in addiction. When a person wants to stop taking opioids suddenly, it can be result in opioid withdraw symptoms including:
Opioid Detoxification Process
The goal of complete detoxification is to rid the body of opioids. While detox may be short-lasting, from a few days to a couple of weeks, it is the beginning step on a path to recovery and additional treatments.
Those going through withdrawal may mistakenly believe that their pain is the same as the original pain that led to the use of opioids. This type of experience is known as the ‘rebound effect,’ in which symptoms that were either absent or controlled due to medication reappear because of a lack thereof.
Opioid withdrawal is rarely life-threatening; however, it is recommended to consult a healthcare professional to structure the most suitable approach to pain or discomfort management during that period. Sudden discontinuation of the drug or “going cold turkey” could ultimately lead to relapse in opioid use and even an unintentional overdose.
In our next article, we will discuss the types of opioid detox medications. For more information or to get help with an opioid and other addiction, contact an addiction specialist nearest you or visit www.addictiongroup.org
This article features excerpts from the Addiction Group website and was reprinted with their permission.
A friend of mine recently observed that I have an addictive personality. While my addictions to things such as caffeine, bargain hunting, and social media are not life threatening, the statement prompted me to wonder why some people have addictive behaviors while others appear to be asymptomatic.
By definition, a person with an addiction uses a substance, or engages in a behavior, for which the rewarding effects provide a compelling incentive to repeat the activity, despite detrimental consequences. Addiction may involve the use of substances such as alcohol, inhalants, opioids, cocaine, and nicotine, or behaviors such as gambling.
While the above definition of addiction excludes a plethora of behaviors, such as impulse shopping, overeating, gaming disorder, and even exercising, they all share a common key neurobiological component that severely involves brain pathways of reward and reinforcement involving the neurotransmitter dopamine. The good news is that these brain changes are reversible after the substance use or behavior is discontinued.
Since addiction affects the brain’s executive functions, centered in the prefrontal cortex, individuals who develop an addiction may not be aware that their behavior is causing problems for themselves and others. Over time, desire for the pleasurable effects of the substance or behavior may dominate an individual’s actions.
Characteristics such as a lack of ability to tolerate stress or other strong feelings have been associated with addiction, but there is no one “addictive personality” type that can clearly predict whether a person will face problems with addiction or not.
When most people think of addictive behaviors, alcoholism is often one of the first to come to mind. Alcohol addiction is a disease that affects people of all walks of life and can unfold in a variety of ways. The severity of the disease, how often someone drinks, and the alcohol they consume varies from person to person. Some people drink heavily all day, while others binge drink and then stay sober for relatively-long periods of time. Regardless of how the addiction looks, someone who relies on drinking and can’t maintain their sobriety is most likely an alcoholic.
Substance abuse and gambling affect the reward, reinforcement, motivation, and memory systems of the brain. They are generally characterized by impaired control, changes in personality, and cravings that can disrupt everyday activities and relationships. These addictions can be particularly harmful to relationships and can impact job or school performance.
According to Psychology Today, the clinical diagnosis of an addiction is based on the existence of at least two of the following features:
The road to recovery from any addiction can feel like a rollercoaster ride. It is extremely common for someone to relapse. Not just once but multiple times. Thus, it is critical to recognize the desire to change. Should you or a loved-one relapse, don’t think of it as failure. Instead, get back on track and resume treatment as soon as possible.
For more information on mental health, please follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube. Be sure to check out our podcast and feel free to comment below . We want to know what is on your mind.