This Groups Is The Most Likely To Become Addicted To Opioids

People who are in the ER or recovering from surgery are the most likely to be prescribed opioids.

Opioids like oxycodone are highly addictive
Opioids like Oxycodone are over prescribed at an alarming rate which leads to unintentional drug addiction

This is where someone is the most likely to be prescribed pain killers, which are all too often highly addictive opioids. This means they will likely be coming back for more pain killers and a cycle and addiction is born.

The face of an opioid addict is not what you probably think

When most people think of a drug addict, someone who has become addicted to prescription drugs, they typically think about some sketchy guy buying drugs in an alley or from street drug dealers.  When in fact the most likely group of people to become addicted to prescription drugs are middle aged women.  According to a recent study sponsored by Pacira Pharaceuticals Inc.

Women ages 40-59 are prescribed more opioids than any other age group and receive twice as many opioid prescriptions as their male counterparts. This population is also particularly vulnerable when prescribed opioids after surgery, with about 13% of middle age women becoming newly persistent opioid users who continue to use opioids three to six months after surgery, which puts them at high risk for dependence and addiction. Among women, this age group has been shown to have the highest death rates from opioids.

This is a disturbing statistic.  The report also indicates that nearly 3 million patients undergoing surgeries in 2016 became persistent
opioid users. They showed that the most common surgeries that resulted in persistent opioid use were colectomies and knee replacement.  They estimate 16-17% of those undergoing these surgeries use prescription drug abusers.

There is a reason women are more likely to be prescribed opioids and may become addicted to them

Women are prescribed painkillers after surgery were 40 percent more likely than men to become persistent opioid users.  There is some science behind this.  Men and women experience pain differently.  Women are more sensitive to pain because they have more nerve receptors, which means their body registers more sensations.  This doesn’t justify the over prescribing of opioids, or the poor medical supervision, but it explains why women may become more easily addicted to them.

The solution is better medical treatment, monitoring and an informed consumer

No one wants to be in pain, regardless of their sex.  It’s all too easy for a doctor to simply write a prescription and feel done with it.  However, someone who is going into surgery or otherwise being treated for something that will result in some sort of pain management afterwards would be wise to talk at length with their doctor about anything they are being prescribed.  Learn what the signs of addiction are, the cycle, the symptoms.

You cannot ask your doctor too many questions about prescribed pain medications.  Be a wise consumer of medical care and do what you can to avoid any kind of drug abuse or dependency or addiction.  Remember, the most common drug addiction is not the person seeking to get high, its the person who is prescribed highly addictive medication.

Want to learn more?  Read our special report: Addiction Hotline Facts About Opioids and Opiates

Heroin And Opioid Addiction In Their Own Words

a mother's overdose fears
a mother’s overdose fears

Opioid Addiction Stories in Their Own Words

The television program, Frontline, has published several documentaries about heroin and opioid addiction.  Recently they asked their audience to open up about their experience with addictions and the responses are powerful.  Some are from addicts themselves, others from a family member or loved one touched by the addiction of someone else.  Each is touching in it’s own way.

Opioid Addiction –  Addicts Tell Their Stories:

 

Someone addicted to opioids

I’m a good person. I’m a contributing member of society. I’m educated. I have a good job, make good money, have wonderful relationships with my loved ones. I’m so completely average. The only thing that sets me apart from that other young business professional that seems to have it all is that I’m addicted to opiates. And the problem is that I tell myself everyday it’s not a problem because I am able to carry my life on in a normal way…I’m not a typical addict. I don’t steal, lie to borrow money, I don’t manipulate people, I don’t engage in promiscuous activity…since it’s not ruining my life in the way of major money, legal, or relationship issues I tell myself that it’s not ruining my life. I’m delusional.

John, from Portland

I have struggled with opioid addiction on and off for 30 years with the most clean time being 7 years consecutive. The thing that I think that people are quickly understanding is that opiate addiction does not discriminate and is not a moral failing. Many of us that have become addicted are intelligent, valuable people who lost control after experimentation, curiosity or having the opiates prescribed. I didn’t ever intend to be a heroin addict; it quickly got out of control and led me to places I never dreamed of.

A former addict from Pittsburgh

You must be vigilant at all times against relapse and you must surround yourself with different places and people. Being in recovery is hard. It’s almost impossible if you stay in your neighborhood and are friends with the same people. You basically have to dump your life and start over.

Craig from Deptford

How it can take over anyone’s life. My childhood was beautiful. My life was beautiful. I was motivated, active, successful, and loved my family. My addiction stole everything from me. Recovery is possible though. In two years clean and sober I have gained so much back.

Sarah who overcame her addiction

That it’s a public/mental health disease, it’s not about being a bad person or morally weak. I also want people to know that with proper long-term treatment it’s possible to recover and live a beautiful life. I feel incredibly fortunate to have my recovery of almost 6 years and to have my life back

addiction stories in their own words
Addiction Stories

People Whose Lives Have Been Affected By Opioid Addiction:

Jenny from Philadelphia

That it is truly a disease that affects so many families. Many times drug abusers have underlying mental health issues. So many people are afraid to talk about it, yet so many are affected by it. The system in place now doesn’t provide the best support for some people who are struggling to stay clean. Loving an addict when they are using is heartbreaking, scary, and frustrating.

Denise from Oklahoma

That it KILLS!! I’ve lost BOTH MY BOYS to heroin overdoses. My 19-year-old Dillan in 2010, and my 28-year-old Matthew just two weeks ago, February 3, 2016!!! THIS KILLS!!!! DEALERS ARE CUTTING DRUGS WITH ALL SORTS OF CHEMICALS…DO NOT USE!!!!

Jennifer from Jacksonville

The chance of dying during relapse after rehabilitation from opioid dependency is the most painful experience your loved ones may have to face. Even in death we love you and wish there was a better outcome. I miss my wife every single day.

Margie who lost her son in 2010, when he was 22

That they never intended for this to happen to them. That they wish they never would have started. They feel pretty bad about themselves already without judgment from everyone else. They were still good, caring people. Addiction just completely overtook them. Their families are devastated. Their siblings and parents left behind are forever affected, forever touched by this disease. This becomes a family disease once it touches even one person in the family. We are not ashamed of them. Through their addiction we continued to love them and forever will.

We are survivors of one the worst wars in America. We cry everyday. We cry for those that will die today, tomorrow, next week, next month and on and on. We cry for their families, and with their families. We are losing beautiful, creative, and loving people, every 19 minutes, and over 120 people a day. It seems like no one cares, that there is no outrage. This is a silent killer, and not enough noise is being made about this modern-day scourge in America.

While I am a mother who lost her son to an opioid overdose, it does not define me, or my family. My son still matters, even though most people cannot bring themselves to even say his name, or recall his memory. I am forever missing my son, Mitchell, and he is my inspiration to wake up and live, every single day

Justine who lost her 16-year-old son to an overdose

That it can take one time; that not everyone gets 10 chances at rehab. That the reckless and glamorous life of your favorite band will not necessarily be your outcome. That you can overdose and die by snorting; needles are not required.

Opioid Addiction Conclusion

These stories are a grim reminder of how getting high for fun so often leads to tragedy.  A life cut off far too soon, a family shattered, a parent loses a child, a young life is taken.  Our hope is out readers will listen and learn and if they are struggling with opioid or opiates they will reach out for help, or that if one who has a family member or loved one is reading they too will reach out for solutions.  Most every community has some sort of social service that can help you find an appropriate level of addiction treatment.  Our National Addiction Hotline is open 24/7 and we are always here to provide guidance and also help you determine treatment options. 1-888-352-6072

To learn more read our special report, Addiction Hotline Facts About Opioids and Opiates

Learn more about Help for Crystal Meth Addicts

Addiction Hotline Facts About Opioids and Opiates

What are opiates and opioids?

CDC Opioid statistics
CDC Opioid statistics

Opiates are a drug derivative of opium. Originally “opioids” referred to synthetic opiates (drugs created to mimic opium,). Today the term term Opioid is used to describe the entire family of opiates including natural, synthetic and semi-synthetic.  An opioid is best described as is any chemical or agent that binds to opioid receptors (which are protein molecules located on the membranes of some nerve cells).  These cells are primarily found in the central nervous system and gastrointestinal tract.

There are four broad classes of opioids:

  1. Endogenous opioid, naturally produced in the body, endorphins 
  2. Opium alkaloids, such as morphine and codeine
  3. Semi-synthetic opioids such as heroin,oxycodone, and Buprenorphine
  4. Fully synthetic opioids, such as methadone

Examples of opioids are: painkillers such as morphine, methadone, Buprenorphine, hydrocodone, and oxycodone. Heroin is also an opioid and is illegal. Opioid drugs sold under brand names include: OxyContin® , Percocet® , Vicodin® , Percodan® , Tylox® and Demerol® among others.  What they all have in common is each is highly addictive.

How do opioids affect people?

Opioids attach to receptors in the brain. Normally these opioids are the endogenous variety created naturally in the body. Once attached, they send signals to the brain of the “opioid effect” which blocks pain, slows breathing, and has a general calming and anti-depressing effect. The body cannot produce enough natural opioids to stop severe or chronic pain nor can it produce enough to cause an overdose.

Nearly 2 million Americans abused or were dependent on prescription opioids in 2014 – Center for Disease Control

The “High” from an opioid is not intoxication or impairing as it is with alcohol.

At low to moderate doses the “High” from opioids is not intoxication or impairing (as with alcohol). It does not feel like alcohol or marijuana, or hallucinogens. It instead provides feelings of intense joy and comfort, more so than can be obtained naturally.

At higher doses, breathing is impaired, it slows down and can result in death. This respiratory depression is the actual cause of overdose deaths.  With opioids there is a small window between euphoria and death.

How dangerous are opioids?

Opioids are highly addictive and very dangerous.  Not only will they cause an array of health problems they’re prone to overdose and death.  The CDC has published many papers on opioid overdose and death.  Some of their findings include:

Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the US with 52,404 lethal drug overdoses in 2015. Opioid addiction is driving this epidemic, with 20,101 overdose deaths related to prescription pain relievers, and 12,990 overdose deaths related to heroin in 2015.  From 1999 to 2008, overdose death rates, sales and substance use disorder treatment admissions related to prescription pain relievers increased in parallel. The overdose death rate in 2008 was nearly four times the 1999 rate”

Is there hope for opioid addicts and users?

Yes of course.  In spite of the highly addictive nature of opioids, opiates, and prescription drugs addicts stop using all the time.  It takes an honest desire and reaching out for assistance.  We highly encourage any opioid addict or user to see a trained health professional to help address any withdrawal symptoms they might experience.

If you or a loved one is struggling with drug addiction call someone today.  Get help, life if short and you deserve better.