The opioid epidemic is all inclusive of any opioid product. Opioids cover three main areas: prescription painkillers, synthetic prescription painkillers, and heroin. Except for fentanyl, the most popular synthetic opioid, other opioids are sourced from the opium poppy plant or created to imitate it. Morphine is what is used as the active opioid ingredient in prescription painkillers. Heroin is a pure, but rarely pure, version of opium, which, when ingested, creates morphine in the blood system. Opioids work because they interact with the brain’s naturally occurring opioid receptors in the brain. Uncoincidentally, opioid painkillers block the opioid receptors, which helps the brain create pain relief throughout the entire body. Prescription opioid painkillers are prescribed to treat chronic pain, traumatic injury, and more. Today, prescription opioids are being prescribed less. Just a few years ago, they were being prescribed for everything. A combination of acetaminophen, otherwise known as Tylenol, and potent Morphine, opioid painkillers reduce pain throughout the entire body while also causing euphoric effects in the mind. Euphoria is caused by a surplus in the production of dopamine, another neurotransmitter in the brain, which is responsible for signaling pleasure to the rest of the brain.
Because opioid painkillers affect more than the source of pain, it is easy to become addicted to them. Unfortunately, the promise of opioids which came on the market in the early 2000’s promising only twice daily doses did not live up to their advertisements. Patients found that their pain returned earlier than the promised twelve hour dose and as their prescriptions were increased by doctors, they became more sensitive to the pain, making it feel as though it was worsening. Rather than doing their job of causing pain relief, opioid painkillers began causing people more pain, more grief, and to develop a chemical dependency. Within months, doctors deal with patients who become addicted to and chemically dependent upon opioids. Once an addiction develops, a doctor is required to stop prescribing the medication.
Opioid addicts are known to “doctor shop” and switch their pharmacies often before resorting to buying drugs on the street. Sadly, in chronic pain, chemically dependent upon opioids for pain relief and to function in everyday life, they turn to buying pills on the street. Eventually, as the habit grows, it becomes too expensive. Heroin, though it is rarely pure, offers the same analgesic pain relief in addition to the same euphoric effect as painkillers, but at an exceptionally cheaper cost.
The descent into heroin addiction happens rapidly. If you are addicted to heroin or opioid painkillers there is help. You can get through the withdrawals and recover. Lakehouse Recovery Center offers residential detox and inpatient programs for heroin and opioid addiction. For more information, call 877.762.3707.