Earlier this year, the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis issued a report that noted that roughly 142 Americans die from a drug overdose every day.
This conservative estimate means that drug overdoses kill more Americans every month than the September 11th attacks did as a whole. The committee has rightfully urged the President to declare a state of national emergency on drug overdoses because of these startling facts.
In addition to this preliminary report, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released figures that show that the number of heroin-related deaths alone since 2015 have been greater than the number of gun homicides for the first time on record.
What Are Opioids?
Opioids are a class of narcotics that, when used with strict medical supervision, can alleviate severe or chronic pain. These types of drugs include powerful and easily recognized names like morphine, tramadol, OxyContin, Vicodin, Percoset, Dilaudid, codeine, fentanyl and heroin.
These drugs may also be referred to as opiates or simply narcotics, but all three terms can be used interchangeably to describe this entire class of medications.
Why Are Opioids So Addictive?
Opiates are legitimate pain management substances. They work by binding to receptors in your brain and blocking out the body’s natural pain signals. While this gives the user relief from pain, it also creates a euphoric sense of happiness and well-being. This can quickly become addictive.
An unfortunate yet inevitable side effect of these types of narcotics is how quickly a person is able to build up a tolerance to the drug. When used for managing pain, the person will eventually have to increase the amount of medication taken to experience the same level of pain relief that they initially felt. This can also lead to addictive behaviors if the person does not strictly follow medical advice and check in regularly with a doctor.
How to Recognize Addiction in Yourself or a Loved One
Some people are good at hiding their addiction. If you’re concerned for yourself or someone you love, asking these questions can help determine if there is a risk for opioid addiction.
– Have you ever experienced negative consequences due to your drug use?
– Do you find yourself spending a lot of time thinking about using your drug?
– Have you begun to use more medication than you’d like?
– Do you feel withdrawal symptoms whenever you don’t take your medication?
If you notice any of these behaviors in yourself, or if you see a loved one acting strangely or erratically with no discernible cause, you should seek opioid addiction treatment help.
How to Combat Opioid Addiction
The first and most important step in getting help for yourself or someone you care about is to be kind and nonjudgmental. More than likely, there are already overwhelming feelings of guilt and shame, so piling on more anger or guilt will only make things worse.
There are medical treatments available to help wean a person off of narcotics, so it would be wise to look into these options during the initial recovery phase. Once you or your loved one are weaned from the drugs, you should make a commitment to join a group like Narcotics Anonymous to help you work through the residual emotional and physical issues.
Remember that it is never too late to ask for help. Seek out support as often as necessary. Opioid addiction is a very dangerous and powerful situation that nobody is expected to get out of alone. The government will likely issue a national emergency on drug overdoses, so you should absolutely take advantage of the resources that will be made available to combat this epidemic, most importantly, reputable and reliable addiction treatment.
Photo Source: https://www.thedailybeast.com/donald-trump-wont-declare-a-national-emergency-on-opioids-defying-his-own-commission
About the author:
Nicole earned her doctoral degree in Psychology with an emphasis on marriage and family therapy at California School of Professional Psychology. Her doctoral thesis was a grounded theory study exploring the role of alienation and connectedness in the life course of addiction. She specializes in treating addiction and trauma. She is certified in DBT and EMDR, two of the most highly regarded evidence-based methods in psychotherapy. Dr. Doss is a strong LGBT advocate and provides open and affirming support to her LGBT clients.
Dr. Doss’s earlier education included graduating cum laude from the University of California, Irvine in June of 2007 with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. While there, she received honors recognition by Psi Chi and Golden Key honor societies.
Nicole has been working with alcoholics and addicts in our California drug and alcohol rehab center as an advisor and counselor for many years. She is passionate about providing quality counseling and care to her clients. Her main focus is on integrating the 12 Step and disease models of addiction with experiential therapeutic theory. She is married to Greg; they have two adorable sons together and an energetic yellow Labrador Retriever.