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Opioid Addiction: Causes, Pathophysiology, Symptoms, Signs, Treatment

Addiction is a compulsive behavior, which leads individual to repeat the same actions that has cost financial or health damages. Addicted individuals visit casino even after losing all his assets. Similarly opioid addicted or alcohol addicted individual may continue consuming opioid or alcohol despite life threatening complications.1 Individuals with addiction may not realize the problems of dependence on these substances. Common harmful substances consumed are cocaine, heroin, prescription pain medications and alcohol.

Opioid Addiction: Causes, Pathophysiology, Symptoms, Signs, Treatment

Causes of Opioid Addiction

Physical Dependence as a Cause For Opioid Addiction:

  • Opioid addiction is a physical dependence secondary to tolerance to opioid.
  • Individual craves for opioid to achieve pleasurable effects despite knowingly taking harmful dosage.

Addiction-A Psychological Disease:

  • Addiction is also considered as psychological imbalance and disease, which creates a psychological desire to consume harmful substances.

Pathophysiology of Opioid Addiction

Compulsive Desire For Taking Opioid-

  • Few individuals have compulsive desire to take prescription opioids, street drugs or alcohol at any time of the day until the supply is exhausted or unable to pay for additional supply of opioids.
  • Addiction behavior of unrestricted desire to consume harmful drugs or opioids is observed in few individuals with genetic abnormalities.2
  • Addiction is a behavior, which directs individual to repeat same act despite knowing it is harmful. Addiction behavior leads individual to visit casino inspite of losing all his assets or smoker may continue smoking despite suffering with lung diseases. Similarly, alcoholics visits bar to consume one more drink despite being drunk.
  • Opioid addicts need additional dosage of opioids when blood level of opioids is below effective level. Opioids are obtained by paying for street opioids or using insurance card to purchase opioid prescription medications.

Physical Dependence-

  • Addiction is either secondary to physical dependence or desire to repeat harmful behavior.2
  • Physical dependence leads to withdrawal symptom which is observed when level of opioid is below blood effective or threshold level.

Withdrawal Symptoms of Opioid Addiction-

Withdrawal Symptoms of Opioid Addiction Are Unpleasant. Symptoms Are As Follows-

Withdrawal Symptoms of Opioid Addiction

  • Restlessness
  • Severe anxiety
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Running nose
  • Abdominal pain and diarrhea
  • Unable to sleep
  • Dilated pupil
  • Rapid heart beats
  • High blood pressure

Withdrawal symptoms of opioid addiction will subside or disappear once opioid is consumed enough to raise the blood level above threshold level.

Fear of Withdrawal Symptom-

  • Addicted individual will consume harmful substance until withdrawal symptoms disappear.
  • Continuous taking of addicting substances raises required blood threshold level for prevention of withdrawal symptoms.
  • Eventually blood threshold level to prevent withdrawal symptom upsurges and approaches close to lethal blood level.

Is Opioid Addiction A Disease?

  • Addiction of desire to consume harmful drugs or opioids or perform a harmful act is more of a disease than mental illness. The cause of this medical illness is genetic disorder.3
  • Harmful addiction behaviors are gambling, stealing and sex offense.
  • Addiction is controlled by brain center in normal individuals, which exhibits addiction phenomena when neurological impairment occurs in addiction centers. Neurological impairment causes loss of inhibitory control when desire to repeat same behavior is predominant.

Is Addiction A Psychological Problem?

  • A considerable number of psychologists and other health care professionals are insistent that addiction is a psychological disease.
  • Unusual excessive repetition of same action like internet, work, exercise and gambling is considered as psychological impairment.
  • Most of the addicted individuals expressed feelings of guilt, shame, despair, rejection, anxiety, and humiliation.

Symptoms and Signs of Opioid Addiction

  • Recreational Use of Opioids: Heroin, morphine, hydrocodone and oxycodone.
  • Weight Gain: Eating disorder is one of the signs and symptoms of an opioid addict.
  • Depression: Addiction to opioid can cause a person to get into depression
  • Behavior Disorder: Mood changes, mood swing, anxiety and restlessness are some of the signs and symptoms of opioid addiction.
  • Psychological Changes as a Symptom of Opioid Addiction: Use of drug to forget problem and use of drug to relax can be a sign of opioid addiction.
  • Loss of interest in activities and lack of concentration are some of the common symptoms of opioid addiction.
  • Poor Performance in School Work resulting in bad grades can also be a sign of opioid addiction.
  • Family and Friendships: An opioid addict avoids families and friends, new friends involve in similar social behavior.
  • Social Behavior: Stealing, drug shopping, doctor shopping for prescription opioids, and opioid diversion for cash is a common behavior among opioid addicts.
  • Tolerance: An opioid addict will need increased quantity of opioid to accomplish identical feel and result.
  • There will be a disturbed sleep pattern in an opioid addict, they would be unable to sleep.

Treatment For Opioid Addiction

  1. Best Treatment For Opioid Addiction is to Seek Help:

    • An opioid addict should discuss the problem of opioid addiction with friend, parents, and close family members.
    • Consult Expert: if a person is battling the problem of opioid addiction, then they should take the initiative of talking to their religious leader, counselor, psychologist or doctor.
  2. Therapy For Opioid Addiction:

    • An opioid addict may take the initiative to quit taking opioids, but to remain staying quit can be a challenge
    • Quit: Most difficult to stop alcohol or opioid usage.
  3. Quit Program: An Effective Treatment Approach For Opioid Addiction:

    • An opioid addict should inform friends of their decision to quit and request to be available when needed.
    • It is important to inform family members of your decision to quit taking opioids.
    • It is preferable to hang out with friends who are not using alcohol and opioids.
    • An opioid addict should avoid being lonesome, avoid friends who continue to use drugs and opioids.
    • One of the important treatment approach for opioid addiction is to avoid drug or alcohol parties .
    • An opioid addict should walk out of party if drug or alcohol is involved.
    • Volunteer to help friend or others to quit addicting drugs.
  4. Discontinue Opioids:

    • An opioid addict should discontinue using opioids under supervision to prevent withdrawal symptoms in addiction clinic.
    • Discontinue and have withdrawal symptoms.
  5. Stay Quit: To Come out of Opioid Addiction:

    • Lifelong commitment is required with strong will power to quit taking opioids.
    • An opioid addict should join support group, and attend regular meeting.
    • Change life style, friends, surrounding neighborhood and community to facilitate the treatment for opioid addiction.
    • Ask HELP when necessary: Friends, relatives or experts.
  6. Medications To Treat Opioid Addiction :

    • Medication For Depression : Antidepressants
    • Medication For Anxiety : Antianxiety medications
    • Medication For Restlessness : Sedatives
  7. Psychotherapy To Treat Opioid Addiction:

    • Frequent Meeting.
    • Prevent Craving
    • Maintain change of life style to facilitate the treatment program for opioid addiction
    • Diagnose depression, anxiety and cognitive behavior changes earlier and treat it so as to avoid becoming an opioid addict.
    • Attend group therapy to help you come out of opioid addiction
  8. Cognitive Behavior Treatment For Opioid Addiction:

    Coping Skills Training To Help You Overcome Opioid Addiction:

    • Managing thoughts and cravings for use.
    • Anger Management
    • Negative Thinking.
    • Pleasant Activities.
    • Relaxation Skills.
    • Decision-Making.
    • Problem-Solving.
    • Planning for emergencies.
    • Drink/Drug Refusal
    • Handling Criticism.
    • Intimate Relationships.
    • Enhancing Social Support Network.
    • General Social Skills.
    • Relapse Prevention.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:October 29, 2019

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