A class of drugs known as opioids is used to treat pain. The drugs block pain signals by binding to opioid receptors in the brain and nervous system, causing a feeling of euphoria. In addition to being highly addictive, opioids can also cause serious health problems, including overdoses and death.
Opioids are frightening for the following reasons:
They are highly addictive. A person who takes opioids as prescribed can develop an addiction even if they take them as prescribed. A person who struggles with opioid addiction may end up losing their job, facing financial difficulties, or experiencing relationship problems.
They can cause overdose and death. In the United States, opioid overdose is a major problem. Overdose deaths from drugs accounted for 109,680 deaths in 2022, according to the CDC. The number of opioid-related drug overdose deaths in 2022 reached 79,770. When opioids are used in combination with alcohol or benzodiazepines, they are more likely to cause overdose than when taken as prescribed.
They can lead to other health problems. Besides addiction and overdose, opioid use can also result in breathing difficulties, constipation, nausea, vomiting, and liver damage. Depression and cognitive impairment can also result from long-term opioid use.
Additionally, opioids are scary for the following reasons:
They can be easy to obtain. In addition to being prescribed for pain, opioids are also available illegally. As a result, even those who do not have a prescription for opioids are easily addicted to them.
They can be very powerful. The effects of opioids can be very strong, and they can produce a very euphoric feeling. Because of this, even if people know that they are harmful, it is difficult for them to avoid using them.
They can be deadly. It is possible to overdose and die from opioids, even if they are taken as prescribed. Opioids are therefore one of the most dangerous drugs available.
There is help available if you or someone you know struggles with opioid addiction. In order to overcome addiction and live a healthy, productive life, people can turn to treatment programs.
How to protect yourself from opioid addiction.
To protect yourself from opioid addiction, you can do the following:
Talk to your doctor about your pain management options. Ask your doctor about other pain management options, such as physical therapy or over-the-counter pain relievers, if you are prescribed opioids.
Take opioids as prescribed. Opioids should not be taken in excess or for longer than your doctor has prescribed.
Do not take opioids with other drugs. There can be dangerous interactions between opioids, alcohol, and benzodiazepines.
Dispose of unused opioids properly. Unused opioids should not be flushed down the toilet. If you want to dispose of them safely, take them to a pharmacy or law enforcement agency.
Consult a doctor or mental health professional if you are concerned about opioid addiction. You don't have to do this alone. Help is available.