The Opioid Crisis: Understanding Drug Addiction

The Opioid Crisis-Understanding Drug Addiction-1

Table of Contents

The opioid crisis has become a global public health emergency, devastating communities and families worldwide. For those who are confused, opioids are the type of drug that directly attach themselves to the opioid receptors in the brain. It is responsible for sparking feelings of euphoria, reducing pain, and promoting relaxation.


So, much like alcohol addiction, even opioid addiction has become common among people. However, similar to alcohol use disorder, over-consumption or usage of opioids often leads to risks of addiction, overdose, and even death.


Having access to the right resources is crucial to helping people overcome complications of opioid and alcohol abuse and alcoholism. If you are in a similar boat, renowned clinics like Sober Centre offer ongoing support to people with alcohol use disorder and opioid addiction.


Understanding Drug Use and Addiction – Science of Addiction

If you are confused about why we have used alcohol misuse and opioid addiction interchangeably, it’s primarily because of the similarities they draw between these two types of addictions.


For example, people experiencing symptoms from alcohol withdrawal are often similar to the ones experiencing the same from opioid withdrawal. But, while the concepts are pretty similar, most individuals are confused about the science between opioid and alcohol dependence in people.


Here’s a breakdown of the same and how these changes in the brain affect people:


Opioid drug addiction triggers dopamine surge

If you are wondering why someone with an alcohol or opioid addiction isn’t able to stop, it’s usually because of the dopamine surge they get from taking the hit. We briefly mentioned that opioid and alcohol intoxication is associated with feelings of euphoria, which can be experienced when you have a surge of dopamine in the brain. So, repeated actions explain why addiction is a chronic ailment.


Downregulation of receptors in people with opioid and drug abuse

The consumption of alcohol and dependence on opioids often leads to downregulation of the receptors. With repeated use, the brain reduces the number of opioid receptors, leading to tolerance. This means individuals need more of the drug to achieve the same level of satisfaction. This explains why it becomes impossible to stop or control alcohol use or opioid use in people. There is a reason why substance abuse and mental health are correlated.


Changes in neurocircuits in opioids and drug overdose

If you are struggling with opioid or alcohol problems, be assured that it can often lead to significant (and often permanent) changes in the neural circuits in the brain. This also explains why most addicts experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop opioid or alcohol consumption. The changes in neurocircuits also make it difficult for addicts to stop drinking or taking opioids.


Understanding these individual factors is crucial to getting treatment for alcohol and opioid addiction, and professional help might be effective in getting one out of one’s dark phase in life.


What are the Factors Fueling Opioids and Drug Addiction?

Every year, millions of people across the world suffer from some form of addiction, as mentioned by the National Survey on Drug Use and the Centers for Disease Control. If you have been personally affected by opioid addiction or know individuals with alcohol and drug addiction, identifying the contributing factors is crucial.


Here’s a rundown of the reasons why people develop dependence on alcohol and opioids:


Overprescription of pain medications in people with substance use disorder or chronic pain

The widespread prescription of opioids for chronic pain in the 1990s led to a significant increase in their availability. During that time, the pharma companies were pretty adamant in explaining the fact that these medications were effective in reducing pain and even effective for alcohol treatment and similar addictions without any risks of side effects.


Shift from heroin to prescription opioids

During the 1990s and later, while people struggled with chronic alcohol misuse, there was a significant reduction in heroin addiction. However, with its decline came a surge in the use of prescribed opioids for the treatment of common complications related to pain and inflammation. Since the “medication” became more readily available, it eventually led to the risks of alcohol and opioid addiction in people.


Socioeconomic disparities increase the risk of addiction

The intake of opioids is often associated with an increased risk of socioeconomic disparity among individuals. Poverty, unemployment, and lack of access to mental health services can increase the risk of addiction. In short, people in such situations are often at a higher risk of developing a drug problem or developing addiction to easily accessible options like opioids.

The Opioid Crisis-Understanding Drug Addiction

What are the Consequences of Opioid Addiction and Substance Use Disorder?

Simply understanding the causes and risk factors of drug misuse isn’t enough if you don’t familiarize yourself with the consequences. In most cases, when you are trying to seek help for addiction treatment, likely, you are already burdened with the aftermath.


Here’s a breakdown of the same:


Overdose deaths due to substance abuse

Understanding drug use and addiction is vital before it’s too late. Many people struggling with addiction tend to use drugs because they find relief and recluse in that habit. However, the unhinged use of alcohol or other drug like opioids often leads to overdoses, a leading cause of death. When it comes to the science of addiction, opioids directly suppress the respiratory function, leading to death in people.


Health complications due to drug abuse and addiction

When you read through the information provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, you will realize that drug misuse and addiction are the leading causes of health problems. From organ damage to infections, repeated drug use is also responsible for impacting people’s mental health and stability.


Social and economic costs of using drugs

We know that addiction affects your brain, but did you know that drug dependence has even worse impacts on your social and financial standing? Besides the money you spend buying opioids, undergoing drug addiction treatment is bound to dig a hole in the pockets, too. Also, larger doses of the drug impact physical health in a way that disrupts careers, relationships, and associated networks.


Impacts on families

The burden of caring for a loved one struggling with addiction can be immense, causing emotional and financial strain on families.


How to Overcome Drug Misuse and Addiction?

If you are struggling with alcohol or drug addiction, be assured that treatment for drug addiction is out there. Leading clinics like Sober Centre offer comprehensive treatment programs that eliminate the effects of the drug and the impacts of the addiction.


You aim to prevent the development of drug addiction and find ways to work through the complexities associated with it. The first step to overcoming drug abuse is to acknowledge the signs of addiction and get the help that you need to overcome the complications.


There are evidence-based treatment programs associated with drug use, especially with medication-assisted treatment. Your struggles with alcohol and illicit drugs don’t have to inadvertently and permanently affect your physical health and lead to mental disorders.


With the right channels of treatments, you, too, can reduce the risk of drug addiction and lead a healthy, happy, and fulfilling life.


Final Words

The opioid crisis is a complex challenge with no easy solutions. However, substance abuse treatment is available out there and should be effective in helping drug users revert to their old lives. It is time to shift the narrative and put a stop to the risk of addiction. Identify the risks of drug use and get help before it’s too late. The opioid crisis is a wake-up call, highlighting the need for a more comprehensive approach to drug use and addiction.

Contributing Editor

Troy Wakelin – Co-Founder and Contributing Editor

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