Opioid Misuse and Treatment Options

What is Opioid Misuse?

Opioids, also known as narcotics, are a type of drug. A medical professional may give you a prescription for an opioid to reduce pain after a major surgery or injury. Opioids include pain relievers such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, fentanyl, and tramadol. You may also be prescribed these types of medications if you have a severe pain condition or cancer pain. 

The illegal drug heroin is also an opioid. 

Regardless of illegal drug use or prescription opioid use, opioid misuse and addiction are viable risks. 

Opioid misuse is when you are not taking the medications according to your doctor’s instructions. This might mean you are using them to get high or even taking someone else’s opioids. Addiction is a chronic disease and the consequences can be dangerous. 

Signs & Side Effects of Opioid Misuse and Addiction

Short Term Side Effects

The short-term side effects of opioid drug use can happen almost immediately after taking the drug. Side effects are common when taking hydrocodone, oxycodone, codeine, morphine, dilaudid, and fentanyl. Common side effects are: 

  • Sedation
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Impaired Judgement
  • Reduce Motor Skills

Long Term Side Effects

When taken long-term, opioids can exacerbate the dangerous side effects. Physical dependence is the first sign of a long-term opioid misuses and cause withdrawal suffering when the medication stops. 

Long term side effects include: 

  • Increased risk of heart attach
  • Depression
  • Abdominal pain
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Irregular heartbeat

Treatment Options

There are a variety of options available for opioid misuse and addiction treatments. Often a combination is helpful. 

Treatments include: 

  • Medications: Methadone and buprenorphine can decrease withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Naltrexone takes away the high that would normally happen after taking opioids.
  • Counseling or Behavioral Therapies: There are many different formats for counseling and therapy approaches. All help change behavior surrounding drug use and teach life skills to coping without opioids.
  • Medication-Assisted Therapy (MAT): This includes medicines, counseling, and behavioral therapies. MAT  offers a “whole patient” approach to treatment, which can increase your chance of a successful recovery.
  • Residential Treatment: Residential programs combine housing and treatment services. You are living with your peers, and you can support each other to stay in recovery. 

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