Opioid Epidemic

Opioid Addiction Resources

Opioids can be abused. Addiction refers to a problematic or unhealthy use of a substance. The harms from abusing opioids can range from mild to severe. Tolerance and addiction are not the same. Tolerance is when an individual requires more of a medication to get the same result as their body has become used to it. Tolerance happens with many differnet types of medications, not just opioids.

Addiction can be explained using the 4 Cs.

  • Craving. An individual craves the use of the drug. This is not the same as wanting to reduce their pain level.
  • Control. An individual loses control over the amount and frequency of use. They are not able to take a prescription as prescribed and would consistency run out of pills early.
  • Compulsion. An individual has a compulsion to use the drug. This would be using the medication even if there were no pain or no breakthrough pain.
  • Consequences. An individual continues to use the medication despite the consequences of use. So, they continue to use it despite family issues, despite no longer being able to get the medication from a doctor or in any legal way.

Addiction occurs as a result of many factors. These factors include: genetics, environment, mental health issues, coping with difficult situations and how the medication interacts with the brain.

An individual may turn to illicit sources when they are refused by their doctor. The danger of illegal drugs is that they may contain contaminants and much stronger opioids. Other concerning activities includes consuming the medication in a different way from how it would be normally prescribed. Crushing the pill so that it can be snorted or injected are examples and have lead to the development of abuse-resistant medications.

Finding resources for individuals who have chronic pain and have concerns about opioid addiction can be difficult. The Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders. 1-800-662-HELP (4357)