Opioid Analgesic (painkiller) Dependence (OAD) occurs when an individual takes doses of prediction opiates that are higher than prescribed levels or uses opioids that they have not been prescribed. It is an escalating health problem in Ireland that is yet to be addressed.?
An opioid is any drug that contains opium or any of its derivatives. There are many such drugs available through prescription, including painkillers such as morphine, hydrocodone, tramadol and codeine, along with some antidepressants, stimulants and antihistamines.
Opioids produce relaxed, detached feelings through sedating the nervous system, but the more often the drug is taken, the greater the quantity needed to produce its effect, which leads to dependence. Withdrawal from opioids can be very unpleasant.?
In the short term, these drugs reduce pain perception and can give a feeling of well-being, along with confusion, nausea and drowsiness. In the long term, the effects of opioid abuse can be serious and include breathing problems, insomnia and damage to liver and kidneys.
The process of physical dependency is what makes it so hard to stop taking opioids. Long-term use of these drugs causes some of the cells in an individual’s brain to stop functioning normally so that the brain becomes dependent on a regular supply of opiates.?
Sudden withdrawal is often associated with intense symptoms, including diarrhoea, stomach pain, cramps, nausea, sweating, agitation and intense craving.?
It is worth noting that there is a difference between dependence and addiction. Many patients can become dependent even if prescribed a short course of opioids, but they are usually able to cope with the withdrawal symptoms, which will resolve in days.?
However, for patients who become addicted, a complete detoxification programme is usually needed. This should be designed to be safe, and as brief as possible, to minimise withdrawal symptoms and enable the individual to resume their normal lives.?
As with any illness, the sooner you seek help for your addiction, the easier it will be to treat. Get help today and call us to ask for a call back to discuss a treatment plan, or to book an assessment.