synthetic opiate addiction and abuse

Modified: 4th Jul 2019

Last updated on July 4th, 2019 at 02:10 pm

Nature provides us with the poppy flower. A milky sap can be extracted from this seemingly benign and beautiful flower that offers incredible pain relief.

You may have heard of the compounds opium, morphine, and codeine that have been a blessing to many people suffering incredible pain.

But for many other people, it has been a huge curse.

Both the natural substances and their synthetic, or chemically-created, counterparts are incredibly addictive and dangerous. Many a poor soul has been lured and consumed by their opiate addiction.

So what are opiates, really? Let’s take a look and find out. 

Synthetic Opiates Addiction Statistics

Addiction to synthetic opiates, or opioids as they are often called, is growing to epidemic proportions. In 2016 and 2017 approximately 11.4 million people abused opiates.

The problem is so pervasive that the U.S. Department of Human Health and Services declared it a public health emergency in 2017. 

How did it get to be so bad? 

Well, opiates are very effective in pain management. Pharmaceutical companies convinced the medical community that the risk of addiction to opiates was low. Thus, doctors began to prescribe them in greater numbers. 

Even now, with deaths due to overdoses on prescription painkillers on the rise, doctors wrote 58 prescriptions for every 100 Americans in 2017.

Demographics 

Because of the pervasive nature of pain medication, addiction to synthetic opiates can affect people from all walks of life. Many people take opioid painkillers after an injury or surgery and never develop an addiction. But others aren’t so lucky, particularly those suffering from chronic pain conditions that require a long-term solution.

There is some indication that older people (age 40 and up) are more likely to become addicted to their pain medication. Also, women tend to fall victim a little more easily than men.

However, no one is safe from addiction or its effects.

Signs of Synthetic Opiates Abuse

To help combat the epidemic, education about the signs of synthetic opiates abuse is important. If you or a loved one is given a prescription for a synthetic opiate, be vigilant about these signs. This can help to avoid a major problem with addiction before it gets going full swing.

Here are some of the common physical signs of synthetic opiates abuse.

  • Noticeable euphoria
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Irregular heart rate
  • Irregular breathing
  • Drowsiness or even losing consciousness
  • Itchy skin
  • Listlessness and a lack of motivation

Not all the signs of opiate abuse are physical. Watch out for these behaviors as well.

  • Going to multiple doctors (for multiple prescriptions)
  • Wild mood swings
  • Finding extra pill bottles in the trash
  • Pulling away from friends and family
  • Unexplained money problems
  • Being unusually secretive

Some people may also uncharacteristically begin to wear long-sleeved clothing–or wear it out of season. If they are taking the drug intravenously, the marks will show on their arms and they may be covering them up. 

Keeping an eye out for these symptoms and behaviors is the best way to realize if you or a loved one is addicted to opiates. 

Am I Addicted?

You may be addicted to your prescription painkillers without even realizing it. Although, that’s mostly because you probably don’t want to admit it. 

If you’re wondering if you could possibly be addicted to opiates, try asking yourself these questions.

What happens when you try to stop taking the drug? Do you start to suffer the symptoms of withdrawal? 

The symptoms include

  • Headaches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Excessive sweating
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Being fatigued yet unable to sleep
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever 
  • Pain

If you are taking your medication as prescribed, you shouldn’t experience these side effects when you stop taking it.

Keep in mind that the withdrawal symptoms from opiates are very dangerous–even life-threatening. If you realize that you are addicted, seek a proper treatment program immediately. 

Going through detox under proper medical supervision is paramount to your safety. Professionals can ensure that you are taking the proper steps for your particular level of addiction.

Not to mention, going through withdrawal from opiates is so terrible that many people give up. With the proper support and help, you have a much higher chance of successfully completing detox.  

Dangers of Synthetic Opiates Abuse

Many people may think that abusing opiates on occasion isn’t that big of a deal. But let’s put things in perspective. About 130 Americans die per day from an opioid overdose. That’s a sobering statistic. 

Even if death isn’t the immediate outcome, overuse of opiates is constantly causing damage to your body. Opiates suppress the functioning of the immune system, leaving the user open to contracting other diseases.

Gastric problems are also common among users. Sometimes they can be minor, like simple constipation. But other times they can grow into serious issues like intestinal ileus (blockages) or even bowel perforations.

Respiratory problems also crop up. This can lead to widespread issues in the body as the organs aren’t getting enough oxygen to function correctly. Eventually, many opiate users experience organ damage.

Heart troubles, seizures, and strokes are also commonly seen in opiate users. 

What Are Opiates? Now You Know

So what are opiates? Now you know the horrifying truth. They’re a blessing to those who find pain relief because of them. But they are a terrible curse to those who become addicted and abuse them.

If you realize that you or someone you love has become addicted to opiates, don’t hesitate to seek help. The longer you wait the higher the likelihood that the unthinkable could happen.

Contact us today to learn how to get started. Even if you don’t think you can get your loved one to admit to their problem and begin treatment on their own, we can help with that too.