What Are Opiates?
Did you know that there is a subtle difference between opiates and opioids? Opiates are drugs “naturally derived from the flowering opium poppy plant.” Examples of opiates include morphine and codeine. Opiates are also known as opium alkaloids.
The term “opioid,” on the other hand, is a broad descriptor for drugs that affect the brain’s opioid receptors, and these substances can be either natural (opiates), semi-synthetic, or synthetic. While all opioids can relieve a user of pain, they can also result in an overdose when not prescribed by a medical professional, and overdosing on opioids can have serious consequences. In fact, opioid addiction is the leading cause of drug overdose in the United States; in 2017 alone, over 47,000 deaths were attributed to both prescription and illicit opioids.
Opiate pain medications are intended to treat unbearable pain, and the prescription of opiates generally follows an intense surgery or injury. This is because opiates and opioids alike trigger the release of endorphins (the hormones that make the body feel good). Through this release, the body’s perception of pain is diminished for a short while, simulating a temporary state of bliss despite the physical issues through which your body may still be working.
Even though opiates are considered “natural” substances, they can still be extremely addictive, even if users are careful not to overdose on their respective drug. Why? Simply put, people like feeling good, and opiates give people an immediate euphoric feeling despite whatever physical, or even mental, pain they may be fighting.
There is, however, a catch: as users continue to consume opioids – whether they be natural, semi-synthetic, or synthetic – their bodies become dependent and develop a tolerance. The high concentration of endorphins becomes a “norm,” and so the mind slows production of natural endorphins in anticipation of the drug. Sooner than later, the tolerance you have been building makes it so the drug’s effects are not quite as powerful, which frequently leads to unauthorized increases in opioid doses and can result in opiate addiction. These increases, despite their “feel-good nature” in the moment, come with serious side effects, including:
- Shortened breath (which could eventually stop altogether as the result of an overdose)
- Constipation, nausea, and vomiting
- Rapid, unhealthy weight loss
- Loss of coordination and headaches
- Pain, specifically in the chest
Taking the Proper Steps to Ensure Recovery
Mountainview Recovery is well aware of just how dangerous opiate addictions can be. What may seem like a necessary short-term solution often turns into a deadly long-term risk, and this risk can be disastrous for both you and your loved ones if action is not taken.
If you fear you have an opiate addiction, please call our office immediately. While we work through your case to determine the proper course of treatment, there are some things you can do to limit the damage:
- Do not suddenly withdraw from opiates on your own. Some opiates are more dangerous than others, and depending on your addiction level, quitting “cold turkey” can sometimes be deadly. Instead, lessen the frequency with which you consume your drug, as this is a good way to begin weaning yourself off of the substance.
- Surround yourself with others and tell your close friends and family about your situation. Having a solid support system to look out for you during this time of need is critical. It can be difficult to talk about addiction with others, but the people who love you will want to help you through these trying days in any way they possibly can.
- Remain positive. You can do this. You can get back to living life the way it is meant to be lived, and Mountainview Recovery’s experts are here to help you every step of the way.
Again, if you fear you have an opiate addiction, do not delay. Call the offices at Mountainview Recovery (available 24/7 at 833-489-4460) today. Our free screening service will help determine which type of treatment is right for you.
For more information on how Mountainview Recovery, located in Asheville, North Carolina, can help struggling opiate addicts get back on their feet, visit mountainviewrecovery.com.