Updated: Jul 19
July 1, 2023
When it comes to using opioids, people often have legitimate concerns about the potential risks and side effects associated with this type of medication. One of the most common concerns with using opioids is the possibility of addiction and dependence or developing opioid use disorder (OUD), which involves a pattern of problematic opioid use. Opioids can be highly addictive and continued use can cause one to become physically or psychologically dependent on them.
According to a World Drug Reporting 2020 by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, an estimated 53 million people worldwide were affected by opioid use disorder (OUD). The opioid crisis in the United States has been particularly severe. In 2019, an estimated 10.1 million Americans aged 12 or older misused opioids in the past year, with 2 million people having OUD specifically. Opioid overdoses accounted for approximately 50,000 deaths annually in recent years. In the United States, opioids were involved in approximately 70% of all drug overdose deaths in 2019. This includes both prescription opioids and illicit opioids like heroin and fentanyl. OUD has significant consequences. It can lead to increased healthcare costs, lost productivity, criminal activities, and the spread of infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis C.
Patterns of Use
Opioid use disorder (OUD) is a medical condition characterized by a problematic pattern of opioid use, leading to significant impairment or distress. Opioids are a class of drugs that include both prescription medications like oxycodone, hydrocodone, and fentanyl, as well as illicit substances like heroin.
OUD involves a range of symptoms and behaviors that indicate a problematic relationship with opioids. These may include:
Compulsive drug use: Individuals with OUD may find it difficult to control or stop their opioid use, even when faced with negative consequences.
Craving and preoccupation: There is a strong desire and intense urge to use opioids, often occupying a person's thoughts and interfering with daily activities.
Tolerance: Over time, individuals with OUD may require higher doses of opioids to achieve the desired effect.
Withdrawal symptoms: When opioids are reduced or stopped, individuals may experience a range of physical and psychological symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle aches, anxiety, and insomnia.
Neglecting responsibilities: OUD can lead to neglecting personal, social, and occupational responsibilities due to the focus on obtaining and using opioids.
Continued use despite negative consequences: Even when faced with adverse effects on health, relationships, or legal issues, individuals with OUD may continue to use opioids.
Concerns With Use
Chronic or regular use of opioids can cause the individual using opioids or those close to them to develop significant concerns with how much and how often they are using. One of the primary concerns of sustained use is the risk of developing opioid use disorder (OUD), which involves a pattern of problematic opioid use. Opioids can be highly addictive, and individuals may worry about becoming physically or psychologically dependent on them.
The side effects of opioids can be distressing. Opioids can cause a range of side effects, including drowsiness, constipation, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, impaired cognition, and respiratory depression. These side effects can impact daily functioning and quality of life. Overdosing on opioids is a significant concern due to their potential to depress the respiratory system, leading to slowed or stopped breathing. This risk is particularly high when opioids are misused, taken in high doses, or combined with other substances like alcohol or benzodiazepines.
Continuous use of opioids can lead to the development of tolerance, where higher doses are required to achieve the same pain relief or euphoric effect. This concern revolves around the potential need for escalating doses, which can increase the risk of side effects and complications. Stopping or reducing opioid use after a period of regular use can lead to withdrawal symptoms, which can be physically and emotionally distressing. The fear of experiencing withdrawal symptoms may prohibit some individuals from discontinuing opioid use.
Prolonged or high-dose opioid use can have adverse effects on various aspects of health, including respiratory function, hormonal balance, immune system functioning, and mental health. Some individuals may worry about the stigma associated with using opioids, particularly if they are prescribed for chronic pain management. Concerns about being judged or labeled as a "drug seeker" may impact people's willingness to use opioids or seek appropriate pain management.
It's important for individuals to discuss these concerns with healthcare professionals who can provide accurate information, address any misconceptions, and help make informed and appropriate decisions about opioid use. It is important to know that there is a big difference between appropriate opioid use and opioid misuse disorder.
Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) is considered a chronic condition that requires medical intervention and treatment. It can have severe health consequences, including overdose, respiratory depression, infectious diseases (such as HIV or hepatitis), and mental health disorders.
Treatment for OUD typically involves a combination of medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and psychosocial interventions. MAT involves using medications like methadone, buprenorphine, or naltrexone to help reduce cravings, alleviate withdrawal symptoms, and support recovery. Psychosocial interventions may include counseling, behavioral therapies, support groups, and lifestyle changes aimed at promoting abstinence and addressing underlying issues contributing to the disorder.
It's essential for individuals with OUD to seek professional help and support from healthcare providers experienced in addiction treatment to improve their chances of recovery and overall well-being.
Treatment For long-term Success
At Pine Ridge Mental Healthcare, we’ve found success using a variety of approaches to opioid use disorder management. Getting your problem under control is a key step in managing your life.
Our team works to reduce your reliance on medications by educating you about the different tools available and how life situations can affect your mood. And we help keep you on track with regular check-ins to monitor your health.
For more information about if you may have an opioid use disorder or for help managing your mental health, schedule an appointment online or over the phone at Pine Ridge Mental Healthcare in Owasso, Oklahoma. If you are interested in other services we provide, check out our services page.
Managing opioid use disorder is an important part of maintaining good physical and mental health. If you are looking for additional resources to help you manage , here are some suggestions:
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): SAMHSA is a branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that provides information, resources, and treatment locators for substance use disorders, including OUD. Their website offers educational materials, treatment guidelines, and helpline information. Visit their website at: https://www.samhsa.gov/
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA): NIDA is a research-focused organization that provides comprehensive information on drug abuse and addiction. They offer resources on opioids, treatment approaches, prevention strategies, and current research. Their website includes publications, educational materials, and information on clinical trials. Visit their website at: https://www.drugabuse.gov/
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): The CDC provides information on opioid overdose prevention, prescribing guidelines, and resources for healthcare professionals. They also offer data and statistics related to the opioid epidemic in the United States. Visit their website at: https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/index.html
American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM): ASAM is a professional society dedicated to the prevention and treatment of addiction. Their website provides information on addiction medicine, treatment guidelines, and resources for healthcare professionals and individuals seeking help for OUD. Visit their website at: https://www.asam.org/
Partnership to End Addiction: This organization provides information and resources for families and individuals affected by substance use disorders. Their website offers educational materials, helpline services, and support for parents, caregivers, and loved ones. Visit their website at: https://drugfree.org/
These resources can provide you with valuable information, treatment options, helpline numbers, and support networks. Remember that seeking help from qualified healthcare professionals and addiction specialists is crucial for proper assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of opioid use disorder.