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What is Opioid Addiction?

Opioids are pain-relieving drugs either derived from opiates (created directly from opium, such as morphine or codeine) or are chemically related to opiates or opium. Because they produce feelings of well-being or euphoria, they can be highly addictive. This is especially the case among those who take opioids for pain and develop a tolerance, leading them to take higher doses and become increasingly dependent.

Examples of opioids include some prescription painkillers (such as oxycodone and hydrocodone) and heroin.

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Dependency often refers to the physical and psychological disturbance one experiences when drug use is stopped. This is called withdrawal and often exhibits specific physical signs and symptoms. This process, called detoxification, may be uncomfortable and even dangerous. This is why it is important during the detoxification process to seek help from medical professionals who can properly assess and treat the various withdrawal symptoms.

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Signs of Addiction

Addiction often refers to the continued drug use despite negative consequences. Usually there are compulsions that contribute to this continued use.

Addiction symptoms can include:

  • Continuing to use a drug despite having persistent problems with people in your life
  • Continuing to use a drug despite knowing that it may create or complicate other physical or psychological problems
  • Continuing to use a drug in physically hazardous situations
  • Normally important activities are abandoned or replaced due to drug use
  • Inability to fully function or complete important obligations as they relate to work, school, or at home
  • Failed attempts to stop drug use

With an estimated 1 million people dependent on opioids in the United States, the illness is more prevalent than many people may think. Even among those who know someone who is or has been affected by opioid dependence, the condition is still largely misunderstood.

While it’s true that dependency and addiction often go hand-in-hand, proper assessment and diagnostic impressions are crucial to determine the severity of one’s condition. CAT uses a multi-disciplinary team to assess and treatment plan, with a successful completion rate well above national averages.

Opioid Dependence
is a Medical Condition

As many sources point out, addiction is a brain disease, not a moral failing. For some, drug use can begin as a choice or by simply taking prescribed medications as directed, but frequent use can lead the brain cells to work differently, and the brain begins to believe the drug is necessary for survival. As a person’s dependence on the drug advances, he or she will find it increasingly difficult to withstand the urges, leading to compulsive behaviors in order to get the drug. For many, opioid dependence becomes a chronic disease, and they may fight cravings even years after stopping taking drugs.