Home » Drugs » Opiates Addiction: History, Causes, Uses And Symptoms » Painkiller Addiction: History, Types, Uses And Symptoms
Painkillers are a class of drug that falls into the opiate category which means that they are derived from the poppy plant that works in the brain to produce a variety of effects, including the relief of pain. Painkiller addiction is a type of drug addiction where one’s body develops an increased tolerance to painkillers. This leads to the need for higher doses. It can also lead to overdose due to increased dosages or mixing with other drugs. Painkiller abuse refers not only to take them without a prescription but also to misusing them and/or combining them with alcohol or other drugs. It is common for people who are addicted to painkillers to develop tolerance and withdrawal symptoms upon stopping or severely reducing their use.
Those who are addicted to painkillers may go through withdrawal symptoms as soon as one hour after taking the last dose of a painkiller.
Painkiller addiction is not limited to adults only; there is growing concern over youth abusing these drugs at an early age and with a greater number of pills per dosage that increases the risk for overdose and death.
If you know anyone using opioids such as hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine, and codeine for nonmedical purposes or in higher quantities than prescribed by a doctor then they should be assessed immediately for possible problems due to drug abuse.
Some people with painkiller abuse may become:
Painkillers interfere with the way that our body produces endorphins; these substances block the effects of pain (physical stress) at receptor sites in our brain. We can become dependent on them by having opioid receptors desensitized over time. Then we need higher doses to get the same effect or a larger dose for the first time if we haven’t taken opioids before.
The sensitivity of opioid receptors to other bodily functions can decrease. A couple of examples are decreased level of breathing rate or constipation.
The risk for overdose is higher if someone mixes painkillers with alcohol as it affects our breathing. It will also interact poorly with certain other medications people take regularly such as antidepressants. In recent years, there has been an increase in prescription painkiller use among teens which puts them at greater risk of addiction. Their brains are still developing and they may not be able to handle drugs as well as adults can.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, please reach out for help. Opiate addiction is a serious problem in the United States. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, about two million people suffer from opiate addiction. Opiate addiction can lead to a number of problems, including health problems, financial problems, and social problems. If you or someone you know is struggling with opiate addiction, it is important to seek help from a professional treatment provider. Opiate addiction is a serious disease that requires professional help to overcome.
This concludes our blog post on Opiate Addiction And Abuse: The Different Types, Effects, and How They Are Treated. We hope that this information has been helpful in better understanding this topic. If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction to opiates, please reach out for help. Opiate addiction is a serious issue, but there is hope for recovery.
Opiate abuse has a long and torrid history that dates back almost 8,000 years. It is believed that Sumerian clay tablets are the earliest prescriptions painkiller of opium. The ancient Greeks, Indians, Chinese, Egyptians, Romans, Arabs, people in the middle ages, Europeans from the renaissance and other civilizations used opioids as medicine for pain and some cultures also utilized them for religious ceremonies. In fact, there are even references in the Odyssey and the Bible, and used by known leaders and minds like Homer, Franklin, Napoleon, Coleridge, Poe, Shelly, Quincy. It is widely accepted that Hitler became dependent upon morphine during world war 2 as it was prescribed by his personal doctor along with doses of cocaine. The history of opiates being utilized by the medical community and distributed started with a few key events.
In 1803 morphine, was extracted from opium by Friedrich Serturner of Germany; Dr. Charles Wood, a Scottish physician, invented the hypodermic needle and used it to facilitate morphine directly into the bloodstream for pain relief. Dr. Eduard Livenstein, a German physician, produced the first accurate and comprehensive description of addiction to morphine, including the withdrawal syndrome and relapse, and argued that craving for morphine was a physiological response.
Diacetylmorphine was synthesized and briefly promoted as more effective and less addictive than morphine. Diacetylmorphine is the first brand name for heroin and it was studied to be more addictive not less addictive than morphine. In the early 20th century, heroin was legally marketed in pill form, for a brief time. In 1830, 1/3rd of lethal poisoning was a result of opium overdoses.
All of these events culminated in the opioid epidemic which has been labeled a national epidemic due to the extreme rates of addiction and death from opiates which continued to increase as more medications utilizing opiates have been developed.
According to the CDC, the number of drug overdose deaths has quadrupled since 1999. Over 70% of the 70,630 deaths in 2019 involved an opioid.
Painkiller addiction originates from the substance of certain painkillers such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, and morphine which are opioids.
Opiates or opioid analgesics refer to a drug derived from opium. It can produce euphoria along with pain relief and other therapeutic effects. Opiates bind to specific receptors in the brain and spinal cord called opioid receptors while some types of opiate medications also target other areas in our bodies like the digestive system. These include both naturally occurring substances (ie: morphine), semisynthetic drugs (ie: heroin), and synthetic drugs (ie: fentanyl). All of which have similar effects but are stronger than natural opioids found in our bodies. The most common form of prescription opioid is OxyContin which is an extended-release version of oxycodone, a semisynthetic opioid.
Oxycodone is the chemical name for this painkiller which is an ingredient in drugs such as Percocet, Roxicodone, and OxyContin. These are narcotic analgesics that act on the central nervous system to alter the perception of pain, along with other effects like drowsiness or mood changes. They are generally known by their brand names these days because pharmaceutical companies claim them to be safe and effective once brought out under specific conditions.
The chemical makeup of painkillers comes from poppy seed plans which are different from cocaine which comes from cocoa plans and has an opposite effect. Opiates are a suppressant while cocaine is a stimulant.
Prescriptions that contain opioids are one of the most abused drugs in America. These include:
Repetitive use of prescription painkillers can cause them to become addictive. Some people may abuse these drugs, but other people could develop an addiction without having any previous history of drug abuse. The history of painkiller abuse otherwise termed the “opiate” epidemic started in the 1980s. The groundwork for painkiller abuse and the opioid epidemic started when pain increasingly became recognized as a problem that required adequate treatment and doctors started prescribing opiates to patients at an increasing rate.
The painkiller addiction problem grew without slowing down over the next 30 years, culminating in 2017 when more people in the United States died from overdoses involving opioids than from HIV- or AIDS-related illnesses.
The problem was compounded by doctors who aggressively prescribed prescription opioids and pharmaceutical companies like Purdue Pharma that sometimes fraudulently marketed the drugs.
There are many reasons why someone might have a painkiller addiction but it’s important to know the number one reason has been the overprescribing of opioids. If you are taking an opiod prescription painkiller there may be other options that are nonaddictive that can be extremely effective. When painkillers first came on the market, the companies told everyone how safe and effective they were but sadly, the world is now seeing the effects of overprescribing by watching many people suffer from opioid dependency.
Misuse of prescriptions happens frequently, even by people who have not previously had addiction issues. Maybe they forgot a dose and doubled up later on without talking to their doctor. Or maybe they forgot they took it and took it again. A misjudgment of pain can also lead to improper use that ends up in dependency.
Injuries are one of the most common causes of painkiller addiction. Many times an individual would never develop a painkiller addiction if it weren’t for an injury leading to a prescription for painkillers. Once dependency occurs, which happens quite quickly, it is difficult to stop due to withdrawal symptoms associated with stopping opiates.
Many people that believed they weren’t going to get addicted still have problems after taking painkillers for a period of time. It can feel like it’s easier to continue taking the prescription than stop and go through withdrawal. Some genetic predispositions may play a role in an individual being more susceptible to having a painkiller addiction. Genetic factors can play a role in the development of painkiller addiction. Certain genetic variations can cause an individual to be more susceptible to the risk of developing the addiction than other people.
Childhood abuse or neglect puts individuals at risk of developing painkiller addiction problems as adults. This is because they are more likely to engage in risky behaviors and developmental health issues, which put them at risk for substance abuse.
People with mental health disorders are more likely to develop an addiction because these conditions put them at risk for developing addictive behaviors. People with mental health issues can also have a chemical imbalance that makes it difficult for them to stop using the drug once they are exposed to it. If this is not treated, then the painkiller addiction will continue to be a chronic problem that causes serious health problems.
In the late 1990s, pharmaceutical companies assured doctors that patients would not become addicted to opioids and began prescribing them at higher rates.
In 2017 the Trump administration announced a 5-point strategy to combat the opioid crisis. This includes discussions on how healthcare providers can help users recover from addiction, increasing access to opiate and prescription painkiller treatment programs in different parts of America, and creating new proposals that would restrict who is allowed into our country due to their high risk behavior or mental health condition. In 2017 Secretary Sebelius declared this public health emergency because too many people were dying as a result of overusing these drugs.
Opiate Addiction And Abuse: The Different Types, Effects, and How They Are Treated (n.d.). Retrieved from Opiate Addiction And Abuse: The Different Types, Effects, and How They Are Treated.
Opiate Addiction Treatment & Symptoms (2019). Retrieved from Opiate Addiction Treatment & Symptoms.
Dr. Bickley graduated from U.C. Irvine with honors: Phi Beta Kappa, Golden Key International Honor Society, Cum Laude. He has been featured on national radio and print media. He is also a frequent lecturer at National Conferences. He holds an A.S. degree in Drug & Alcohol Studies, and two B.A. degrees in Criminology & Psychology, and masters and doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology. He is a licensed California Drug & Alcohol Counselor Level II, a licensed Clinical Supervisor and is certified in treating Eating Disorders.
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