The stigma surrounding addiction indicates that those with addiction are primarily young people or those living in poverty. However, people from all walks of life suffer from this disease. This is particularly true of opioid addiction. Taking prescribed pain medications is one of the most common ways to develop an opioid addiction.
How a Nation Became Addicted to Opioids
The opioid crisis in America began in the 1990s when pharmaceutical companies encouraged the widespread use of opioid-based pain medications, assuring medical professionals that they were not addictive. The effectiveness of these medications in treating chronic pain led to a significant increase in prescriptions for opioid painkillers.
Because the medications are addictive, both widespread prescription use and misuse occurred. As addiction to prescription pain medication grew, those who had become addicted developed an undeniable and relentless craving for more and more opioids.
Both heroin and fentanyl are powerful opioid drugs, and a sharp increase in the use of both drugs occurred. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), approximately 80 percent of heroin users initially used prescription pain medications. The number of widespread deaths also rose due to overdose from pain medications, heroin, and fentanyl. In 2019 alone, almost 50,000 people in the United States died from an opioid overdose.
Why Pain Medications Create Opioid Addiction
Common prescription pain medications such as Codeine, Vicodin, and OxyContin used to treat intense or chronic pain due to injury, surgery, or chronic health conditions are all opioid-based. Opioids work differently than other pain medications in that they bind to opioid receptors in the brain, spinal cord, and other parts of the body. In doing so, they block pain and thus are very effective.
The brain’s reward system is rewired due to the positive effects produced by opioid drugs, which create intense cravings for opioids. As your body builds up a tolerance for the drug, the brain tells your body that you need more to achieve the same level of pain relief. Particularly with opioid-based pain medications, an intense addiction results within your body and your brain that is difficult to break on your own. For many, prescription pain medications are no longer enough. The need for pain relief coupled with the powerful addiction leads to more potent opioids such as heroin or fentanyl.
Moving Past Shame to Seek Help
If you have developed an opioid addiction due to the use of prescription pain medications, you are not alone. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) also reports that in 2017, an estimated 1.7 million people in America had addictions from and to pain medications. These people came from all ages, economic statuses, and walks of life.
Addiction is not something to be ashamed of. It is a physiological condition not unlike other diseases such as diabetes. Like other medical conditions, you can get help to find healing. Letting go of the shame, whether of your own making, because of cultural or societal stigma, or both, will allow you to find the help you need.
What Is Medication-Assisted Treatment (Mat) And Can It Help Me?
Treatment for opioid addiction has evolved as the medical community has recognized both the dangers of opioid drugs and the powerful addictions they can create. MAT is available when traditional detox and other treatments for substance abuse are not enough.
MAT offers what its acronym suggests, medications that will assist you in reducing the powerful cravings that come with opioid addiction and allow you to break free. It is particularly effective in preventing relapse for those who have severe opioid addictions or have used opioids for an extensive period of time.
Becoming Whole Again
Treatment for opioid addiction allows for healing of your body, mind, and spirit. As your body and mind break free from the powerful need for opioids, you can work with your doctor to address any lingering chronic pain in other non-addictive ways. On many occasions, the pain is no longer even a problem. When you can be free of pain and addiction, your body will experience a more complete healing.
The recovery process begins with the initial treatment and continues as a lifelong journey of healing that allows you to become whole again. Within therapy, you will simultaneously address all three components of holistic healing—the body, mind, and spirit. You will learn more about yourself and gain the tools to find and maintain proper healing. True recovery is much more than sobriety; it involves healing the whole person.
Opioid-based prescription medications are incredibly addictive. You do not need to be ashamed if you have become addicted to opioids. You are definitely not alone, and there is an abundance of help available. Treating the body, mind, and spirit simultaneously allows you to break free of opioids and become whole again. The Ho Tai Way – Recovery For Women is committed to just that: healing your body, mind, and spirit. Our residential treatment program is available for women with drug or alcohol addictions and co-occurring mental health conditions. We use trauma-informed and evidence-based therapies to help create an individualized treatment for you. Self-awareness is key to your healing, so we focus on education and helping you learn more about yourself. We help you to rebuild your self-esteem and develop self-love. We want you to be comfortable with yourself and find peace. Contact our Costa Mesa, California facility at (714) 581-3974 to begin your healing from opioid or other addictions.