I have written on the topic of opioids before, but I cannot stop raising the red flag for those who have dissociative identity disorder because so many of us abuse them in one form or another. This message may mean life or death to some who read it today.
If you currently take opioids for pain, please, read this message; it could save your life
People believe that if a medication is prescribed to them by a physician, it is safe and effective. While opioids are certainly both, they are much, much more. In this article, we will explore the abuse of prescription drugs and other types of opioids and how dangerous they indeed are.
What are Opioids?
Opioids are made from the opium poppy plant, and they work in the brain to produce many effects, including the relief of pain. Some commonly used opioids are Vicodin (unfortunately my favorite), Percocet, Fentanyl, Morphine, and many illegal street forms, such as heroin.
Opioids work by blocking pain in your body, slowing your breathing, and causing a calming effect. Opioids trigger pain receptors in the brain and allow drugs to attach to other cells leading to abnormalities in the brain’s messages to the body.
These potent substances also target the brain’s production of a neurotransmitter known as dopamine, which produces happiness and pleasure. Because of the production of dopamine in the brain and its subsequential flooding of the body with euphoria, opioids are highly addictive.
Opioids do have one redeeming quality; they block moderate to severe pain at least for a while. In long-term use, opioids can cause pain instead of relieving it.
The Effects of Opioids on the Brain
Opioids are potent, and for many people, it doesn’t take long for people to become addicted. As the brain grows accustomed to the drug, it requires more and more until before you know it, you are consuming much more than was prescribed and safe. Your brain becomes used to the opioid drug leading to dependence which is the beginning of addiction.
To help avoid opioid addiction, it is vital to understand how opioids affect the brain. There are two effects that opioid abuse has on the brain: short-term effects and long-term effects.
Numbness or lack of feeling
Using opioids continuously takes a toll on the body and can cause severe long-term effects and even irreversible brain damage.
Lack of oxygen supply
Increased sensitivity to pain
Surgical anesthesia doesn’t work well
The long-term effects include kidney and liver failure because many prescription opioids are combined with acetaminophen, and high doses cause damage.
Unfortunately, accidental overdoses of opioid drugs do occur, claiming upwards of 50,000 lives every year.
The Way Opioid Addiction Happens
Addiction is a medical condition where something that starts with pleasure turns into something you cannot live without. Physicians define drug addiction as an irresistible craving for a substance, out-of-control compulsive use of the drug, and continued use of it despite harmful consequences.
Opioids are addictive because they activate powerful reward centers in your brain by releasing endorphins, neurotransmitters that boost feelings of pleasure, and a temporary increased sense of well-being. These feelings of euphoria wear off, and you will crave more and more.
Opioid abuse is a common problem in the United States today, with 58.7 prescriptions per 100 people written every year. Anyone who takes opioids for any reason is at high risk of developing an addiction. It is impossible to predict who will become addicted and who will not. However, a history and family history of drug dependence and abuse should be huge red flags to avoid these substances.
Opioids, legal or illegal, stolen, or shared, are responsible for most overdose deaths in the United States.
How strong are the addictive properties of opioids? Despite knowing that millions of people abuse opioids in either legal or illegal means, with thousands dying because of their use, this article will not detour or change the minds of many of the people who are addicted to them and reading this today.
Who Abuse Opioids?
Opioid abuse isn’t something that only occurs in cities, as is found in even the smallest town or village in the United States. All racial/ethnic groups and ages of people are affected by opioid abuse, with many dying because they went too far in using these potent drugs.
If you think you are safe because you are middle-aged or elderly, think again, as people over the age of forty make up at least 41% of those addicted to opioids.
There are risk factors that increase the chances of you or someone you love becoming addicted to opioids:
Family history of substance abuse
Personal history of substance abuse
Problems at home
Problems at work
The presence of a mental health condition
History of severe depression
History of anxiety
Another colossal danger is using prescription opioids beyond what they were written for. A drug written for one pill every eight hours for a toothache is used instead of taking two or more to chase the euphoria opioids cause.
Ending Our Time Together
My struggle with opioid addiction began in the 1980s with the prescribing by my doctor an opioid to treat arthritic changes in my knees. At first, I was leery of using the drug, and I even asked if they were addictive. My doctor told me that if I was taking them for pain, I could not become addicted. To be fair to him, his opinion was the prevailing thought of that decade begun by drug companies to increase sales.
I didn’t abuse that drug at first because I took it as prescribed and felt no euphoria. However, I still had the pain and decided that it didn’t work, then two would be better, then three, then four; I think you see the picture. I was under much stress with undiagnosed DID and enjoyed the escape the opioids offered me.
Never, ever believe that if one works excellent, two or more will work better. That is the trap I fell into, and it cost me 40 years of addiction and nearly my life. My abuse of opioids is why I am in a wheelchair today and have many chronic medical problems.
I know reading this article has been difficult for some because they, too, are addicted to opioids. However, if I can prevent even one person from going down the road I did, then I will have felt that I have done something significant with my life.
“Nothing is impossible. The word itself says, ‘I’m possible!’” ~ Audrey Hepburn
“Every day, think as you wake up: Today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it.” ~ Dalai Lama XIV