Listen to the news and you’ll hear news reporters, commentators, and even politicians talking about opiate drug use and overdose. In fact, it’s become such a hot topic that heroin and prescription drugs are going to be in the upcoming presidential debate. The issue of prescription drug use has become so severe for the United States that there are people who actually overdose on opiates. By miracle, their lives are saved. But instead of using that near death as a sign to go into treatment, they end up finding another way to get high. It seems once you’re hooked there are no limits to the damage prescription drugs and heroin can do. This points to the severe stronghold that heroin and other opiates can have on a person once they start using.
Opiate addiction is sometimes also called opioid use disorder. It is considered to be an illness, an addiction to heroin and other substances that contain opioids, such as prescription drugs. Types of prescription medication that men, women, and teens can get hooked on include morphine, codeine, oxycodone, and hydrocodone. As with other addictions, one of the primary symptoms of opiate addiction is that there is compulsive use of the drug despite the severe consequences that can come with continued use. Often, with this type of addiction there is both a physical dependency as well as a psychological dependency.
The amount of people hooked on heroin and other opiates have increased dramatically in the last 15 years. In 2013, opiate addiction resulted in 51,000 deaths whereas in 1990 there were 18,000 people who died from their opiate use. Furthermore, the number of hospital stays related to opiate use has gone up 5% annually from 1993-2012. And the number of those admitted to emergency rooms due to an issue related to opiate use went up from 43% in 1993 to 64% in 2005. Since then, this number has stayed relatively the same.
More recently, research has shown that those who tend to have an addiction to heroin or prescription drugs also have one or more psychological illnesses. It’s very common for this type of addiction to develop because of self-medication. In other words, a person might be searching for a way to escape emotional turmoil and turn to this substance for relief. Furthermore, this type of substance does extremely well in relieving one of pain. For this reason, there might be more of a hook for someone to turn to it to presumably cope with their lives. Therefore, when this medication is prescribed to relieve one’s physical pain, there is an immediate attraction. However, those addicted to the substance tend to develop an addiction not so much because of the physical pain relief but because of the euphoria that opiates can induce in someone. In fact, as mentioned above, this experience of euphoria might be so rewarding for someone that even if they lose their lives briefly because of the drug, they are willing to return again and again for the high.
As this article points out, opiate use and abuse is incredibly dangerous. If you or someone you know is regularly using heroin or misusing their prescription pain medication, contact a mental health provider. Doing so may save a life!
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