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Opiate Dependency

Opiate drugs are narcotic sedatives that depress activity of the central nervous system, reduce pain, and induce sleep. Like every drugs prescribed by physicians, this drug gives benefits to our body. However, the drug has the capacity to allow the body to become too dependent on it, leading to addiction.

Opiate addiction is recognized as a central nervous system disorder. Nonstop and extensive opiate use can cause the nerve cells in the brain to stop functioning as usual and stop giving off natural endorphins. Opiate replaces endorphins in the body. This makes the nerve cells to deteriorate and opiate dependency would then occur. Studies show that the brain has its own opiate and opiate receptors, which are concentrated in the parts of the brain that manages pain and emotions. Drugs that bind to opiate receptors in the reward centers of the limbic system that enhances the release of the brain chemical dopamine in another brain area called the nucleus accumbens. Dopamine gives an individual a high feeling of pleasure and relaxation which can lead to addiction.

Normally, a substance dependent would take actions to conceal the addiction. However, the addiction will always show on the person’s attitudes and behaviors. Some symptoms of opiate addiction include obsessing over medications, obsessing over doctor appointments and the need to get more medicine, being restless, irritable, and angry when not getting enough opiates, being preoccupied with getting more drugs, lying about how much they have used or when they got the medicine, and lying to doctors or faking injuries or illnesses in order to get more medicine. An addict may even go out of their way to the point of inflicting injury to one’s own body to get medication.

Treating opiate addiction is similar to treating any other drug addiction. And, the common denominator is that the patient should be willing to stop the addiction. Professional help is also needed for a high possibility of recovery from the addiction. Detoxification is needed as a first step in treating the addiction. In the process of the treatment, withdrawal symptoms could occur. Opiate detox and withdrawal can occur when one suddenly reduces the amount of opiates after heavy and extended use. Opiates could be an illegal drug or prescription drugs. Actually, it is the occurrence of withdrawal syndrome that makes the person to continue using the drug. Furthermore, opiate users often experience drowsiness, vomiting, nausea, muscle soreness, constipation and dry mouth.

Opiate dependency was once viewed as a condition with no solution. Patients with opiate physical dependency were considered to have acquired an addictive personality or psychological disorder or to have suffered with a dysfunctional family life. However, studies have been made on how to treat this type of addiction. After more than a decade of NIH-supported animal and human research, buprenorphine became one of the daily-administered medications most recently approved to treat opiate addiction. With the help of the opiate receptor discovery, researchers determined that buprenorphine worked like a treatment already available, termed methadone, by activating opiate receptors and mimicking opiate drugs of abuse. Receptor-activating medications can help relieve drug cravings and control a person’s addiction. Medications should also be paired with behavioral therapy such that the patient is encouraged to consider and be hopeful that the addiction would later on subside. Also, one’s behavior should be modified as to how they deal with their dependence on the drug.

Opiate is a drug usually used to alleviate severe and chronic pain. Prescription drugs may be safe to take but exploiting it could always lead to danger. Small things can always lead to dependency where treatment is the only way out.

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