What is an opioid? It is a synthetic or partly synthetic substance, meaning it was created in a lab. It acts on the human body the way an opiate does. However, opiates come from the naturally occurring poppy plant, but the makeup of opiates and opioids are very similar.
Common opioids include Vicodin (hydrocodone), OxyContin (oxycodone), and Fentanyl, all of which have medical uses but are also sold illegally, frequently abused, and are highly addictive.
At Pennsylvania Adult & Teen Challenge (PAATC), we are experts in diagnosing and treating opioid addiction. If you are seeking further information about opioids, addiction, and rehab, don’t wait. Contact us now at 844.442.8673 or via our online form.
Prescription Pain-Relieving Drugs
Doctors prescribe opioids such as OxyContin and Vicodin for pain relief. The recent spike in opioid abuse and overdose in this country is due to the introduction of OxyContin and Fentanyl onto the medical scene.
Created in the 1960s, “Oxy” was marketed for prescription use and approved by the FDA. Unfortunately, the drug quickly led to widespread addiction and overdose.
Opioid Use, Abuse, and Addiction
Pain management is critical for people who live with chronic pain or experience acute pain, but at PAATC, we see the other side of the story. Our mission is to help people overcome addiction and manage their pain without the risk of prescription medication abuse.
Regular use of a prescription opioid would include short-term use as prescribed for pain. These individuals can stop using opioids after the prescription runs out and continue to relieve pain as needed, using non-opioid analgesics like Advil. Many people can take opioid pain relievers in this way. However, too many slip unwittingly over the edge into abuse, physical dependence, and addiction.
Abuse of an opioid that a doctor has prescribed for pain might involve:
- Taking more than the prescribed amount
- Taking the drug to achieve a high
- Seeking a secondary prescriber to acquire another prescription because your first has run out too soon
- Stealing or buying prescriptions from friends and family
As the person continues using opioids, they get a high due to a flood of dopamine and serotonin in the brain that causes euphoria. Addiction results when the user’s own body no longer produces its own pleasure hormones, meaning that to feel any enjoyment or happiness at all, he or she must take ever-increasing doses of the opioid.
Vicodin is a prescription drug used for pain management. It combines acetaminophen (the over-the-counter analgesic in Tylenol and other brands) and hydrocodone. Hydrocodone is a synthetic opioid that activates the same neuroreceptors as opiates such as heroin or morphine.
Some patients develop a dependence on Vicodin without realizing it, going through withdrawals when it runs out. Dependence can lead to addiction or a compulsive urge to take the drug. Because abusers take higher and higher doses to achieve the high, one of the significant risks of Vicodin addiction is liver damage from acetaminophen. Other effects and risk factors are the same as any opioid or opiate addiction.
OxyContin is the name brand of the potent, semi-synthetic opioid oxycodone. Highly effective at managing severe chronic and acute pain, “Oxy” is prescribed to cancer patients, injured athletes, post-surgical patients, and many others.
This medication is a time-release capsule that dissolves into the bloodstream over 12 hours. People choose to override the time-release feature by chewing, crushing and snorting, smoking, or mixing it into a solution for injection. This dangerous controlled substance is not just addictive; it also can cause an overdose.
Another highly addictive synthetic opioid formulated initially for medical use as a pain reliever, Fentanyl is the most potent opioid on the market today. The FDA has approved it for prescription use, but dealers also make it illegally and sell it with disastrous results.
Fentanyl is 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times stronger than heroin. Therefore, an overdose is a considerable risk for both intentional and unwitting users. Since the high is also more intense and tremendously addictive, some dealers lace their heroin or Oxy with Fentanyl to encourage repeat business. Unsuspecting users can easily overdose because the concentration of the opioid is so much higher than the dose they usually take.
Learn More About Treatment Options at PAATC
There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Pennsylvania Adult & Teen Challenge has programs specifically designed for individual opioids and opiates. To learn more about our evidence-based clinical treatment options and the wide range of therapeutic and faith-based models available to you, please call us at 844.442.8673 or reach out via our online form.