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Opioids are a type of drug used to alleviate one’s pain. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH), “Opioids are a class of drugs that include the illegal drug heroin, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, and pain relievers available legally by prescription, such as oxycodone (OxyContin®), hydrocodone (Vicodin®), codeine, morphine, and many others.” The way opioids work is by attaching to the natural opioid receptors in one’s body. They adjust the amount of information surrounding pain that is relayed to various areas of one’s body. Prescription opioid medications are considered controlled substances, and although they have highly addictive qualities, are safe when used for a short period of time, under direct supervision of a medical professional.

Important information regarding medication (e.g., controlled substances) that is regulated by the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) includes the potency, the expiration date, additives and ingredients, and the origin of the medication. All information shared regarding illicit drugs such as heroin, as well as illegally sold medications is provided solely at the discretion of the manufacturer. This exponentially increases one’s risk of overdose. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) asserts “opioid-involved overdose deaths rose significantly from 46,802 deaths in 2018 to 49,860 in 2019.” Because regulated opioids are commonly used in the medical field, their accessibility has grown exponentially over the years, which some believe has contributed to the rise of opioid abuse and addiction.

Prevention

Addiction, also known as substance use disorder, is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), as a chronic mental health disorder. It is characterized by compulsively engaging in rewarding stimuli regardless of the negative ensuing consequences. An individual that struggles with addiction will prioritize satisfying his or her craving above all else. Addiction affects all areas of one’s life, and it can lead to strained relationships, financial hardship, employment challenges, legal complications, as well as emotional, physical, and psychological consequences.

As is true with taking any medication, there will always be associated risks. To prevent opioid abuse and/ or addiction for those that have valid opioid prescriptions, it is imperative for the individual to take the prescribed substance responsibly. Certain opioids, such as heroin, have highly addictive qualities, and those that experiment with such substances are at increased risk of abuse and/ or addiction. The only way to effectively prevent opioid abuse and addiction is for an individual to abstain from taking illicit opioids, and to take any prescribed opioid medications exactly as directed.

Further Information and Support

If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one regarding substance abuse and/ or addiction, we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. Addiction can be an incredibly damaging disease. Navigating the challenges that arise from substance abuse, and/ or addiction can not only be all consuming but are often impossible to effectively handle without proper support. If left untreated, substance abuse and/ or addiction can result in long lasting and potentially life-threatening consequences.

While seeking help is never easy, it is beneficial to bear in mind that you do not have to be on this journey alone. There is an entire network of professionals that are readily available to help and support you or your loved one throughout every step of the recovery process.

Pathways Recovery is a fully supportive treatment program for those struggling with substance abuse and/ or addiction. We believe in our clients and their ability to turn their lives around. We know that each person who chooses to join our community has the strength it takes to overcome their challenges with substance abuse and/ or addiction. Please do not hesitate to reach out for guidance. We are happy to answer any questions and provide any information you may be looking for regarding substance abuse and/ or addiction. Feel free to contact us by phone at 626-515-6424 or 1-866-682-0901. We look forward to connecting and having the opportunity to discuss how we might best be able to support you.