What Are Opioids?
Drugs classified as opioids include opiates such as heroin and morphine which are derived from naturally occurring opium poppy plants, as well as synthetically manufactured opioid pain relievers. Prescribed opioids include pain relievers such as fentanyl, oxycodone, hydrocodone, tramadol, codeine, hydromorphone and oxymorphone.
All opioids bind to one or more of the three opioid receptors in the body and produce an anesthetic, euphoric effect. Both prescription pain relievers and illegal opioids can be used illicitly to “get high."
What medications are Opioids?
Vicodin®, Lortab®, Norco®,
Zohydro® ER, Lorcet®
Ultram, Ultram® ER, Ultracet®
Tylenol with Codeine® 3 or 4
Opana®, Opana® ER
What are the symptoms of Opioid misuse or withdrawal?
It can be difficult to determine if someone is misusing opioids, especially if a physician prescribed them for pain from an injury or illness. Opioid use symptoms can be both physical and psychological, and you can identify them if you know what to look for.
Opioid withdrawal can occur very quickly after someone stops taking opioids for any length of time. Experiencing withdrawal symptoms is a very strong indication that someone may be misusing their medication. Opioid withdrawal can cause the following symptoms.
Physical Signs of Opioid Use
- Drowsiness, lack of energy
- Nodding off or losing consciousness
- Restricted pupils
- Slowed, shallow breathing
- Constant scratching
- Nausea, vomiting
- “Track marks” or scars from use of needles
Behavioral Signs of Opioid Use
- Unusual elation or euphoria
- Sudden, dramatic mood swings
- Dishonesty, secrecy
- Sudden financial problems
- Issues with work and family
- Legal issues, arrests
- Not keeping commitments
- Noticeable changes in routine
- Taking more medication than prescribed
- Visiting multiple doctors to obtain prescriptions for opioids
Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms
- Runny nose
- Muscle cramps
- Increased heart rate
What Is Psychological Addiction?
A substance use disorder can begin after an illness or medical procedure, or with the recreational use of drugs. No matter how a substance use disorder begins, most individuals who struggle with opioid use disorder eventually begin to depend on their drug of choice to help them deal with the challenges of life. Using opioids as the solution to problems, stress or negative situations is the psychological part of opioid use disorder. The feelings of euphoria help people to forget their troubles, and when these things pop back up in life, the reaction is to use more of the drugs to control those negative feelings.
Addiction can often seem impossible to conquer because of the powerful combination of physical and psychological aspects of the disease, but with the right treatment program and support system, recovery is possible.
How Does Medication-Assisted Treatment Work?
Treatment medications such as methadone and buprenorphine are synthetic opioids that work by attaching to the opioid receptors in the brain. Methadone is a full agonist opioid, which means that it fully attaches to opioid receptors. Once it attaches, it works slowly to reduce withdrawal symptoms without creating a euphoric feeling. Buprenorphine works similarly in the brain, but it's a partial opioid agonist, meaning it activates receptors less powerfully than methadone.
Buprenorphine works to decrease withdrawal symptoms, but its effect is less intense than methadone's effect. Additionally, it has a dosage threshold, so its effects can only intensify to a certain point before they plateau, even when an individual takes more of the medication. This helps people avoid misuse during treatment.
Substance use disorder treatment using methadone is typically best for individuals who used opioids in high concentrations before beginning treatment, and buprenorphine is generally best for individuals who used opioids mildly or moderately.
BAART Programs Can Help
In practice for almost 40 years, BAART’s medical, clinical and administrative staff thoroughly understand what individuals in recovery need to successfully overcome opiate use disorder and live healthier, more productive and happier lives. That experience is shown through individualized treatment plans, offering each patient an effective dose of medication alongside proven tools such as behavioral therapy and group counseling. With this harm reduction approach, BAART has helped patients nationwide to regain their lives.
Contact us to learn more about how we can help you or a loved one recover from opioid use disorder. We provide comprehensive treatment that includes behavioral therapy and medication-assisted treatment to help individuals achieve a better quality of life.