The Opioids prescription drugs are part of three main categories of prescription medication that have a high recognized risk of abuse. The other two categories include central nervous system depressants and stimulants.
What are Opioids?
The Opioids are well-known in history for their usage as painkillers. Taken as prescribed, they can dull the pain of those ill or injure. This is the reason why this therapeutic drug usage is among the oldest known in the world.
This group of drugs is derived from the opium poppy plant and it is an analgesic that causes a decrease in the perception of pain and also allows the sufferers to develop tolerance to the pain that they are experiencing.
It includes the well-known opium, codeine, heroin and morphine. Opium appears as dark chunks or a powder that can be smoked or eaten. Heroin (also known by the nicknames of “junk” or “smack”) is a white powder that can be dissolved in water and injected. Other opioids come in various forms, such as tablets, capsules, solutions or syrups.
Besides being effective painkillers, they are also very addictive, leading to physical and psychic dependencies and addictions.
Opioids History and Popularization
The first people in history that have been identified to cultivate the poppy plant were the Sumerians in Mesopotamia, around the year 3400 BC. It spread throughout all major civilizations and it was initially used to treat pain and other ailments. By the year 1986, the poppy plant was also called the “joy plant”.
During the nineteenth century, the development of the medicine also started a larger negative impact on the individuals and society, due to drug abuse and addiction.
Also, during the twentieth century, the use of opioids for chronic pain started to increase, showing a yearly substantial rise that continues today, especially for hydrocodone and oxycodone.
Opioids Usage Statistics
To sustain these statements, according to the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), it is estimated that over 26.4 million people make abuse of opioids worldwide. Also, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), over 2.1 million people in the United States needed treatment for prescription Opioids painkillers in 2014.
Opioids Addiction And Medical Risks Of Prolonged Abuse
It is important to realize that prolonged usage of Opioids leads to increased tolerance. This is the reason why larger doses need to be taken in order to achieve the same levels of euphoria. After a sudden withdrawal, the effects of Opioids fade within about 10 days, but the individual will continue to feel weakness, or loss of well-being, for several more months.
The physical effects of Opioids addiction include slower heart rate and brain activity, loss of sexual desire, of appetite and thirst, an increased tolerance of the body to pain, or even infertility.
Furthermore, other complications of abuse include diseases such as Tetanus, AIDS or Hepatitis. These are the results of injections with dirty needles or/and impure drugs that can be found in the streets.
Along with the negative impact on the body, the user also has to fight with the effects of psychological dependence and powerful craving for the narcotics.
Social Risks Of Opioids Addiction
Opioids addiction also has negative consequences for the entire society. It is said that the Opioids Use Disorder is associated with a criminal behavior, including severe crimes such as drug dealing, theft or prostitution.
This disorder can also lead to marital abuse, loss of family, child abuse or neglect, poverty, unemployment and even homelessness.
Treatment Approaches For Opioids Addiction
This type of drug dependence very complex because it includes physical, mental, environmental and social factors. This is the reason why a treatment plan should include at least 3 major components.
These include detoxification or a supervised withdrawal from the drugs. This is done in combination with other medication. During this therapy, people may suffer from hallucinations, confusion, anxiety, tremors, sleep disorders and body pain.
Milder prescription Opioids may also help to slowly lower the dose of drugs. This is known as replacement therapy.
Users can also benefit from successful substance abuse treatment therapies provided by treatment facilities. The long-term treatment programs, including support groups, vocational rehab or behavioral therapy are considered to be among the most effective approaches to Opioids addiction.