Addiction, also known as substance use disorder, is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), as a chronic mental health disorder. It is characterized by compulsively engaging in rewarding stimuli (e.g., abusing opioids) regardless of the negative ensuing consequences. An individual that struggles with addiction will prioritize satisfying his or her craving above all else. Addiction affects all areas of one’s life, and it can lead to strained relationships, financial hardship, employment challenges, legal complications, as well as emotional, physical, and psychological consequences.
Opioids are a type of drug used to alleviate one’s pain. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH), “Opioids are a class of drugs that include the illegal drug heroin, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, and pain relievers available legally by prescription, such as oxycodone (OxyContin®), hydrocodone (Vicodin®), codeine, morphine, and many others.” The way opioids work is by attaching to the natural opioid receptors in one’s body. They adjust the amount of information surrounding pain that is relayed to various areas of one’s body. Prescription opioid medications are considered controlled substances, and although they have highly addictive qualities, they are safe when used for a short period of time, under the direct supervision of a medical professional.
Important information regarding medication (e.g., controlled substances) that is regulated by the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) includes the potency, the expiration date, additives and ingredients, and the origin of the medication. All information shared regarding illicit drugs such as heroin, as well as illegally sold medications is provided solely at the discretion of the manufacturer. This exponentially increases one’s risk of overdose. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) asserts “opioid-involved overdose deaths rose significantly from 46,802 deaths in 2018 to 49,860 in 2019.” Because regulated opioids are commonly used in the medical field, their accessibility has grown exponentially over the years, which some belief has contributed to the rise of opioid abuse and addiction. The CDC offers different ways to help reduce exposures to opioids and prevent opioid addiction that can be reinforced through:
- Improving programs in health care systems to increase the implementation of recommended prescribing practices
- Prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs)
- Formulary management strategies in insurance programs (e.g., prior authorization, quantity limits, drug utilization review, etc.)
- State prescription drug laws
- Increasing patient education regarding safe storage practices and disposal of prescription opioids
- Improving awareness about the risks of prescription opioids, and the cost of overdose on patients and families.
As is true with taking any medication, there will always be associated risks. To prevent opioid abuse and/ or addiction for those that have valid opioid prescriptions, it is imperative for the individual to take the prescribed substance responsibly. Certain opioids, such as heroin, have highly addictive qualities, and those that experiment with such substances are at increased risk of abuse and/ or addiction. The only way to effectively prevent opioid abuse and addiction is for an individual to abstain from taking illicit opioids, and to take any prescribed opioid medications exactly as directed.
For Information and Support
If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one regarding substance abuse and/ or addiction, we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. If left untreated, substance abuse can result in long-lasting and potentially life-threatening consequences. Keep in mind: you are not alone! There is an entire network of professionals that are available to help and support you and your loved one throughout the recovery process. The earlier you seek support, the sooner your loved one can return to a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.
Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions regarding our specific program at Haven House Addiction Treatment and/ or general substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment-related information. Our highly trained staff is readily available to discuss how we might best be able to help you and your loved one. We can be reached by phone at 424-258-6792. You are also welcome to contact anytime us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.