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Opiate Dependency

A narcotic sedative which slows down the activity of the central nervous system is called an opiate drug. Opiate drugs lessen pain and stimulate 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.

Getting dependent to opiate is a disorder in the body’s central nervous system. Constant and extensive opiate use can cause the nerve cells in the brain to discontinue functioning as they normally and stop producing natural endorphins. Opiate substitutes 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 control 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. Flooding of dopamine in the brain produces a “high” of pleasure and relaxation which in turn could 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. Opiate addicts can 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. First step of the treatment is the process of detoxification. In the process of the treatment, withdrawal symptoms could occur. Opiate detox and withdrawal happens when one suddenly stops the amount of opiates after intense use. Opiates could be an illegal drug or prescription drugs. Actually, it is the occurrence of withdrawal syndrome that pushes an individual to continue using the drug. Furthermore, people using opiates 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 said to have inherited an addictive personality or psychological disorder or to have suffered with a dysfunctional family life. However, studies have been made on how to heal this type of addiction. After more than a decade of NIH-supported animal and human research, buprenorphine was discovered to help stop opiate dependency. 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 treatment such that the patient is encouraged to consider and be hopeful that the addiction would later on subside. To help deal with the addiction, behavior should be modified.

Opiate is a drug usually used to alleviate severe and chronic pain. It may be safe to think that prescription drugs are safe to take, however, dangerous effects may possibly occur due to misuse or abuse. Small things can always lead to dependency where treatment is the only way out.

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