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Why Are Opioids Addictive?

young woman looking distraught while lying on couch and wondering why are opioids addictive

For many years, Americans have heard about the “opioid crisis” ravaging both rural and urban communities. This particular substance use disorder (SUD) is especially pervasive and persistent. But why are opioids so addictive? And how can an individual break the cycle of opioid abuse?

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 distressing thing about opioids and one of the reasons why opioids are so addictive is that they are often legally prescribed for legitimate medical reasons. However, the potency and addictive nature of the drugs means that people can unintentionally move from use to misuse and then to dependency.

At Insight Recovery Center, we understand addiction. Our professional and compassionate staff provides opioid rehab in Asheville, NC, to help you or a loved one break the cycle of opioid addiction. Call 828.826.1376 today to learn more or get started on the path toward recovery.

How Do Opioids Work?

Opioids work by binding to specific receptors in the brain, spinal cord, and other areas of the body. They reduce the sending of pain messages to the brain and reduce feelings of pain. While opioids can be an effective part of treatment to manage severe pain, they carry significant risks when misused.

Why Are Opioids So Addictive?

Opioids are addictive because they produce a sense of euphoria or intense pleasure by stimulating the brain’s reward system in addition to relieving pain. This feeling can be highly reinforcing, leading individuals to use more and more of the drug to achieve the same effect. Additionally, opioids can create physical dependence, causing withdrawal symptoms when someone stops using them.

The Dangers of Opioid Abuse

Misuse of opioids can lead to a substance use disorder, a medical illness that can range from mild to severe and from temporary to chronic. Addiction is a complex, long-term brain disease that is manifested by compulsive substance use despite harmful consequences. Some of the adverse physical, mental, and social consequences of opioid abuse include the following:

  • Respiratory depression, or slowed breathing, which can lead to coma or death.
  • Overdose, even with the first use.
  • Infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis C from sharing needles.
  • Physical dependence on opioids, meaning withdrawal symptoms occur if a person suddenly stops taking the drug.
  • Increased risk of heroin abuse among people who misuse prescription opioids.
  • Increased chance of legal and financial problems or declining performance at work or school.

Again, the reason why opioids are addictive is that many people begin using them for legal, legitimate medical reasons but find themselves trapped in the web of dependency.

Signs and Symptoms of Opioid Use Disorder

Opioid use disorder symptoms can vary widely among individuals. Some of the more common signs and symptoms may include the following:

  • A strong desire for opioids
  • Inability to control or reduce use
  • Continued use despite interference with major obligations or social functioning
  • Use of larger amounts over time
  • Development of tolerance
  • Spending a great deal of time to obtain and use opioids
  • Withdrawal symptoms that occur after stopping or reducing use:
    • Negative mood
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Muscle aches
    • Diarrhea
    • Fever
    • Insomnia

Professional addiction treatment, like that found at Insight Recovery Center, is almost always required to break the cycle of opioid addiction. It is dangerous to quit without professional supervision because of the unpleasant and potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms.

Contact Insight Recovery Center Today

At Insight Recovery Center, we recognize the complexity of opioid addiction and understand the courage it takes to seek help. Located in Asheville, NC, our center provides a comprehensive approach to overcoming addiction, combining evidence-based therapies and holistic approaches.

Our dedicated team of healthcare professionals will work with you to develop an individualized treatment plan, focusing on the root causes of your addiction and providing the tools needed to manage and overcome it. Whether you or a loved one is struggling with opioid addiction, rest assured that you will receive the compassionate care and professional treatment necessary to guide you toward a healthier future at Insight Recovery Center.

To verify your insurance or get started with treatment, call 828.826.1376 or reach out online. We are ready to help you or a loved one regain your health and well-being.