Opioid addiction is a central nervous system disease that results from continuous use of opioids (opiates). Pronounced feeling of euphoria produced by opioids presents a high risk of recreational use by many people. Desire to take opioids specifically to get high leads to opioid addiction. Opioid addiction is a serious medical and social problem.
Opioid containing substances can be classified as natural, semi-synthetic and fully-synthetic. Natural opioids derived from opium poppies are called opiates. The main opiates are Morphine, Codeine, Thebaine, Papaverine. Semi-synthetic. Semi-sythetic opioids include prescription opioid pain killers. Such as Dilaudid, Hydrocodone (Vicodin), Oxycontin (Oxycodone)and illegal Heroin. Fully-synthetic opioids are: Fentanyl, Demerol, Methadone.
Opiates have been used for centuries as very effective pain supressers. However, due to pronounced euphoric effect along with a relative sedative effect. They quickly gained popularity among the people who refer to them with recreational purpose. Nowadays opiods are the most commonly abused drugs in the world.
Opioids operate by attaching to opioid receptors which are mainly found in the central nervous system and the gastrointestinal tract. The receptors in these two organ systems ensure both beneficial and side effects of opioids.
Opioid addiction symptoms:
The symptoms typically presented shortly after using the opioids.
- decreased perception of pain,
- rush of euphoria,
- heaviness in the limbs,
- uncontrollable craving for the drug,
- obsessive thoughts about obtaining and use of opioids,
- personality changes,
- financial problems,
- poor work or school performance,
- neglect of family responsibilities,
- social isolation,
- neglect of personal hygiene,
- drunken behavior,
- anxiety, mood swings,
- change in eating habits,
- weight loss,
- facial puffiness,
- shakiness of hands.
Opioid side effects:
- respiratory depression,
- increased body temperature,
- dry mouth,
These symptoms may last up to a few hours. Due to reduced concentration the user is unable to function normally during that time. With extensive, continuous use of opioids. The production of endogenous endorphins in an user’s brain decreases because the body gets used to external supply of opiates. The more external opiates, the less natural ones. It results in a situation when continuously increasing amount of opiates is needed in order to achieve the former degree of euphoria. The effect of the growing doses of the drug is called a drug tolerance. Abrupt cessation of opiod intake leads yet to another traumatic condition — opioid withdrawal syndrome. The presence of which indicates the formation of physical dependence on opioids.
People addicted to opioids (opiates) also seem to be blank, distant and have an emotionless stare. Other symptoms of opioid addiction are pronounced chronic fatigue, slurred speech. Also poor coordination, regular use laxatives (due to chronic constipation), scratching, itching, needle marks, pinpoint pupils.