Opiate addiction is a major issue in the U.S., with prescription opiate addiction being one of the biggest drug problems today. Opiate medications are surprisingly easy to obtain. In fact, an estimated 210 million prescriptions for opiates were dispensed in 2010 alone. Frighteningly, prescription opiate abusers are far more likely to eventually develop a heroin addiction than a non-opiate abuser, as heroin will offer a similar high at a cheaper price.
Any long-term use puts you at risk of addiction, even if the substance is used as prescribed. Many people who use opiates will develop a tolerance to them--a phenomenon that can trigger the cycle of addiction. This means that the same amount of the drug no longer has the same effect as it once did. When this occurs, people routinely take more and more of the substance to elicit the desired response. This ever-increasing dosing places one at great risk for overdose.
Signs and Symptoms
A major indicator of opiate addiction is continued use of the substance even when there are negative repercussions in place for doing so.
Effects of Opiate Abuse
Often, the facts about the effects of opiate use are misleading because they may only focus on the short-term impact. For example, opiates often cause vomiting and diarrhea, sedation and delayed reactions in the short term.
What's not often mentioned, however, are the long-term symptoms. Long-term symptoms include:
Weakened immune system functioning.
Gastric problems ranging from the troublesome (e.g., constipation) to severe (e.g., intestinal ileus, bowel perforation).
A plethora of medical issues secondary to intravenous administration (e.g., localized abscesses, embolic events, systemic infection, contraction of blood borne illnesses).
Significant respiratory depression; cumulative hypoxic end-organ injury.
Opiate Abuse Treatment
Opiate recovery typically starts with questions related to the nature of the addiction, such as:
How long have you taken the drug?
When was the last time you took the drug?
How do you usually get your supply?