What is an opioid

An opioid is a group of strong painkiller drugs derived from a plant or synthetically ingredients made in a lab. The drug interacts with opioid receptors in the cells and releases signals that mute the perception of pain and rather release the feeling of pleasure. This can influence addiction or can result in an overdose. An opiod slows down breathing and heart rate, causes sleepiness, and temporary feel-good release. However, opioids can cause respiratory depression which can lead to respiratory failure and death. Types of opioids include oxycodone (OxyContin, Percacet), hydrocodone (Vicodin), and fentanyl (Actiq) which is synthesized to resemble heroin and morphine. If you or a loved one suffer from opioid addiction, do not be afraid to seek help from a detox treatment that has the expertise to help you, like Iris Healing Retreat.

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What is the Opioid Epidemic

By the late 1990s, pharmaceuticals began to push opioids, reassuring the public that they were safe so doctors heavily prescribed opioids to their patients. With little understanding of the effects, people used opioids, and misused them. Then overdoses increased. It became apparent that opioids have addictive properties. Opioids have decreased in prescriptions, but there has also been a shortage, turning fentanyl users to illegal drugs like heroin. 

Statistics on opioids use:

  • 64,000 people die each year from using opioids
  • 175 people overdose and die from opioids per day
  • 2.1 million people have an opioid use disorder
  • 11.4 million people misused prescription opioids in 2017
  • 886,000 people use heroin in 2017
  • 81,000 people used heroin in 2017 for the first time
  • Heroin use has doubled in the past decade amongst people ages 18-25
  • There is a rise of newborns experiencing opioid withdrawal syndrome due to parent misuse during pregnancy

Solutions for the epidemic

There are a few suggested solutions to curb the epidemic. For one, there is the belief that there needs to be more cautious prescribing. If outpatient treatment becomes more accessible to different medications other than opioids, then the number of people addicted may lower altogether. Some believe that if pharmaceutical drugmakers are obligated to pay for opioid treatment in America, then there will be a change in the drug’s prevalence. And a resounding opinion on how change can happen is a belief that awareness needs to be raised around opioids and a change in mindset on how we view the epidemic. 

Why addiction happens

There are several reasons why addictions manifest. But it is important to note that it is complex and a disorder. A substance triggers a large dose of dopamine in a part of the brain that is responsible for reward. If the reward circuit is taken over by the substance, the user may want to consume more of the substance in order to feel that reward. A person may then rely on chasing the reward to feel functional, whenever there is a withdrawal from the substance. Using substances may affect the prefrontal cortex, impairing a person’s ability to make decisions and thus continue to use the substance. People who are susceptible to craving the reward are those who have a family history of addiction, those who lived in a chaotic environment as a child, those suffering from mental illness, and those who have suffered from trauma. 

How to get help

Help begins with awareness and admitting to having a dependency on opioids. Once you are ready, there are counseling programs that will assist in detoxing your body, rewiring your brain, and activities to reconnect you with your brain and mind in order to create new, healthy habits. For more information call Iris Healing Retreat at (844) 663-4747.