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Opiate Addiction

Opiate drugs are narcotic sedatives that depress activity of the central nervous system, reduce pain, and induce sleep. These, like other prescription drugs, could be beneficial to the body. Yet, when taken abusively can lead to addiction.

Opiate addiction is recognized as a central nervous system disorder. Continuous and extensive opiate use can cause the nerve cells in the brain to discontinue functioning as usual and stop producing natural endorphins. Opiate replaces endorphins in the body. In return, the nerve cells start to degenerate and the body becomes physically dependent on opiates. Studies show that the brain has its own opiate and opiate receptors, which are concentrated in the parts of the brain that control pain and emotions. Drugs that bind to opiate receptors in the reward centers of the limbic system that enhances the release of the brain chemical dopamine in another brain area called the nucleus accumbens. Dopamine gives an individual a high feeling of pleasure and relaxation which can lead to addiction.

Normally, a substance dependent would take actions to conceal the addiction. However, the addiction will always show on the person’s attitudes and behaviors. Symptoms of opiate dependency includes obsessing over medications, obsessing over doctor appointments and the need to get more medicine, being restless, irritable, and angry when not getting enough opiates, being preoccupied with getting more drugs, lying about how much they have used or when they got the medicine, and lying to doctors or faking injuries or illnesses in order to get more medicine. An addict may even go out of their way to the point of inflicting injury to one’s own body to get medication.

This type of addiction is treated the same as any other type of drug addiction. And, the common denominator is that the patient should be willing to stop the addiction. To recover quickly, professional help is always needed. First step of the treatment is the process of detoxification. In the procedure of the treatment, withdrawal symptoms could occur. Opiate detox and withdrawal happens when one suddenly stops the amount of opiates after intense use. Opiates could be an illegal drug or prescription drugs. Actually, it is the occurrence of withdrawal syndrome that pushes the person to continue using the drug. Furthermore, people using opiates often experience drowsiness, vomiting, nausea, muscle soreness, constipation and dry mouth.

Before, getting addicted to opiate is seen as a helpless condition. Patients with opiate physical dependency were considered to have inherited an addictive personality or psychological disorder or to have suffered with a dysfunctional family life. However, studies have been made on how to treat this kind of addiction. After more than a decade of NIH-supported animal and human research, buprenorphine was discovered to help stop opiate dependency. The discovery of the opiate receptor determined that buprenorphine worked like a treatment already available, termed methadone, by activating opiate receptors and mimicking opiate drugs of abuse. Receptor-activating medications can help relieve drug cravings and control a person’s addiction. Medications should also be paired with cognitive therapy such that the patient is encouraged to think positively and be hopeful that the addiction would later on subside. Also, one’s behavior should be modified as to how they deal with their dependence on the drug.

Opiate is a drug usually used to alleviate severe and chronic pain. Prescription drugs may be safe to take but exploiting it could always lead to danger. Small things can always lead to dependency where treatment is the only way out.

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