These types of opiates carry with it a high incidence of tolerance and addiction. They are medications derived from codeine, morphine, hydrocodone, or oxycodone. The number one cause of accidental and preventable drug abuse in many parts of the country is prescription drug abuse containing opiate derivatives. The dangers of opiates are that they slow down the respiratory system, which could stop breathing and cause death in increasing amounts.
To produce the same effects, an opiate user must take more of the drug at higher doses, thus developing a tolerance to the drug. The brain’s nerve cells naturally produce opiates called endorphins, our natural painkillers. It’s when a person takes a drug for too long and at higher doses that the nerve cells can no longer produce natural opiates. Once the drug is stopped, the addict will begin the withdrawal process. It’s at this time that a recovery center can be beneficial in overcoming the addiction.
Street-level heroin is diluted or cut with similar powders (frequently glucose); it can also be cut with talcum powder, caffeine, and flour, thus increasing the risk of danger to the user. Heroin is sold as a white or brownish powder, or what’s known on the street as “black tar heroin” for its black, sticky substance.
To minimize these effects, doctors may prescribe methadone for addicts. They may also use Suboxone and Subutex, which are sometimes used to treat opiate dependence and addiction.
Opiate withdrawal can take a while, so addicts need to learn better ways of coping with life’s challenges when they arise rather than being reliant on drugs. When an individual has support and professional help, they increase their chances for a successful recovery from opiate use.
There are effective treatments for addiction, but the first step on the road to recovery is to recognize there is a problem. Sometimes, when a person denies they have a problem, families and concerned friends may stage an intervention for prompt treatment—particularly if the addicted person is harming themselves or others. It’s important to get a physician’s assessment and diagnosis, then a treatment plan can be formulated, whether that means outpatient rehab, inpatient, or at-home treatment.
Rehabilitation often includes medications used to control drug cravings and therapy that can help addicted individuals understand their motivations and behavior, develop better self-esteem, cope with anxiety and stress, and address other mental problems.