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

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.

 

After Overdosing on Heroin Four Times, Mother Commits to Recovery

Heather Wetzel recovering heroin addict
Heather Wetzel

In this video Heather Wetzel explains how she became addicted to heroin, her overdoses, and the guilt she carried being an addicted mother to her four year old daughter.  She explains how she turned to a life of  crime to fund her drug habit, and the time when she overdosed and the  police arrived while her daughter was home.

I told her, Mommy’s got to go away…

She was in prison for eleven month and completed a drug program while there.

I don’t know how I lost sight of being a mother…

After she was released from prison she and her daughter lived in a treatment center for recovering mothers and their children. Heather hopes her recovery will last and that she’ll remain drug free for her daughter.  She says she feels confident about remaining drug free but she has a fear of the cravings.

Thousands of lives are lost each year to prescription drug overdose.  Opioid prescriptions are at an all time high, so are emergency room visits and deaths from overdose.  It has become a national crisis.  Sadly stories like Heather’s are common: a young mother gets caught up into drug addiction and the downward spiral is fast and ugly.  Heather is fortunate in that she’s still alive, and is drug free now.  Heroin overdoses are lethal far too often.

Too often someone addicted to opiates tries and fails to kick their addiction and mistakenly concludes they’re hopeless and they have no chance for recovery.  We see people end the cycle of addiction each day.  It’s not easy and the first thing the addict must do is recognize they have a problem and then seek help.

We hope Heather’s story inspires heroin addicts that they too can turn their lives around, no one is hopeless.

Why Are Opioids So Addictive?

 

This CNN video about opioid addiction is an eye opener.  For instance in 2016 every 19 minutes someone dies from an accidental drug overdose,

Opioid overdose statistics

and most of the time it’s prescription drugs.  We are facing an opioid epidemic and this documentary sheds some light on the reasons why.  Opioids,  synthetic opiates, are highly addictive.  The number of opioid prescriptions written each year is staggering.

Watch this insightful news coverage that explains why opioids are so addictive.  And if you or a loved one is affected by opioid addiction we’re here to provide guidance.  Our phone is answered 24/7.  1-888-352-6072