Opioid use has become an epidemic in America. Millions of Americans abuse prescription opioids and substances like heroin each year. Thousands of people die each year from opioid overdoses, which comprise almost half of the drug overdoses each year. It has become a leading cause of death for those under 50, and the problem is not getting better. If you’re suffering from an opioid overdose, please reach out to the Willows at Red Oak today at 855.773.0614.
What Are Opioids?
Opioids include drugs such as oxycodone, codeine, and morphine. They are pain-relieving drugs meant to help a person feel better. These drugs act in the nervous system to produce feelings of pleasure and offer pain relief. Opioids change the brain’s chemistry and create a tolerance, making it necessary to take more to achieve the same effect. Though these medications are highly addictive, doctors often prescribe them for pain relief, meaning that people can obtain them easily. Heroin is the only opioid that is illegal to get and use.
What Is Opioid Addiction?
In someone with opioid addiction, a compulsive urge to use the drugs occurs even when it is no longer necessary for pain relief. Addiction can happen even to people that follow the doctor’s orders and take medicine as directed. When addiction takes over, a person may make the drug a priority above all else, negatively impacting their lives and relationships. Aside from the risk of addiction and overdose, opioids can also lead to life-threatening health issues. Dependence on opioids can occur within a few days of use, and addiction risk increases significantly the longer the person takes them.
Which Opioids Are the Most Addictive?
There are many opioids available; these are the most addictive and problematic of the opioids.
Morphine is a naturally occurring substance, and it was the first opioid drug. Users can crush, snort, smoke, or use it orally and intravenously, which makes it convenient to take. Doctors still prescribe this medication for pain treatment in the US, and it is the basis of all other opioids.
Researchers developed heroin in 1895 as a non-addictive alternative to morphine. When doctors realized nearly 30 years later that it did not end up that way, it became illegal. This opioid provides a fast-acting but short-lived high, and more of the drug is necessary to achieve the same results even after the first use. Many heroin users abuse painkillers before switching to heroin.
Many people lump heroin and morphine together due to their similar effects on the user. They carry a high risk of dependence as well. Similar opioids by chemical makeup include meperidine (Demerol), Opana, and hydromorphone (Dilaudid).
This medication is the strongest, most potent opioid used in US medicine, and it is much stronger than heroin and morphine. Less than a milligram of fentanyl can lead to a fatal overdose. It is fast-acting and short-lived like heroin, making it a common substitute. Many drug users cut their drugs with street fentanyl to increase the high, making it even more dangerous because of its synthetic chemicals.
Pharmacists developed methadone as a substitute for morphine. Many addiction treatment centers use it to treat opioid addiction, which works because of the slow-release nature and up to 24-hour effects. It does not give off euphoric feelings like morphine and heroin. Additionally, research shows that it is safe for treating patients with opioid addiction, but medical experts must supervise its administration to avoid addiction.
Vicodin is probably the most abused prescription painkiller of them all. It certainly lands among the top for overdoses. It is the combination of hydrocodone, which has similar effects as morphine, and acetaminophen. The drug may seem harmless due to the mix of a non-opioid drug, but it is still highly addictive.
This common painkiller is more addictive than morphine. It is also one of the top causes of overdoses in the US. This slow-release opioid lasts 12 hours, but when people use it in ways other than directed, it can be even more powerful and mimic the fast-acting effects of fentanyl and heroin. Users may crush and snort it to achieve those results. It is commonly known as OxyContin, Percocet, Percodan, and Endocet.
Learn More About Opioid Addiction Treatment at The Willows at Red Oak
There is no shame in struggling with opioid addiction. Opioid use as pain-relieving drugs can be addictive, and getting treatment for opioid addiction is possible at The Willows at Red Oak. If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction to opioids, we can help. We are a clinician-run treatment center, so everyone who works here is an expert in addiction treatment. As a women’s only center, The Willows at Red Oak provides targeted help through one of our many therapeutic strategies. Contact us online or call us at 855.773.0614 for more information about our treatment options.