Understanding opiate addiction

Opiate addiction - 1

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Opioids are a type of drugs that act on the nervous system to produce various effects, including pain relief and pleasure. Examples of opioids include prescription pain relievers such as tramadol and oxycodone, heroin, and synthetic opioids like fentanyl. Opioids work by reducing the number of pain signals sent to the brain. These drugs are safe when used correctly. In addition to relieving pain, opioids are known to produce feelings of pleasure and can be highly addictive. By definition, opiate addiction, also known as opioid dependency, is the continued use of opioids, even though they cause harm.

Opioid abuse

Opioid abuse is characterized by an irresistible urge to use opioids even when they’re no longer required medically. Typically, persons taking prescription opioids are at a higher risk of developing addiction. Today, it’s evident that addiction to opioids has become a major problem in the US. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, about 21 to 29 percent of persons taking prescription opioids for pain relief misuse them. Another report by the American Society of Anesthesiologists shows that an average of 90 Americans die after overdosing on opioids.

So, how do you get addicted to opioids?

Usually, addiction to opioid drugs begins when a person is prescribed the medication by a doctor for pain relief. After taking the drugs for a period of time, the patient begins to develop tolerance to the medications, prompting them to take larger doses to elicit the desired effects. Increasing the dosage leads to dependence, causing the patient to continue using the drug even when it’s not required medically. Eventually, they develop a compulsive urge to use the drug despite the problems related to the use of the drug.

Signs of opiate addiction

To identify whether someone is addicted to opioids, there are specific prescription painkiller addiction symptoms to look out for. These warning signs can be physical, behavioral, or cognitive.

Physical signs of opiate addiction:

  • Needle marks on arms and legs suggesting IV drug use
  • Nausea
  • Digestive problems
  • Physical agitation
  • Constricted pupils
  • Increased energy
  • Constipation
  • Poor motor skills and coordination

Behavioral signs: 

  • Social isolation
  • Unusual mood swings
  • Impulsive actions
  • Poor performance in school or at work
  • Seeking opioids frequently from multiple doctors
  • Sleeping more than usual
  • Uncontrollable cravings
  • Unexpected periods of euphoria

Cognitive signs

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Impaired judgment
  • Increased anxiety
  • Psychosis
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Improved self-esteem
  • Being nervous or cranky
  • Slowed thinking

Reasons why are opioids addictive

Opioids release large amounts of dopamine (a hormone associated with feelings of pleasure) throughout the body. In addition to blocking pain, they elicit euphoric feelings; hence they prove rewarding to those abusing them. Taking these drugs over a period of time alters the chemistry of the brain, causing it to stop producing its own endorphins. This compels the user to drug repeatedly to get the same effects.

Drug addiction changes the normal functioning of the brain, causing an irresistible urge to use the drug to feel normal. The dopamine rush prompts you to keep using the drug leading to dependence. The following are 10 facts about drug addiction:

  1. Nearly 21 million Americans struggle with at least one drug addiction problem.
  2. Men are likely to abuse drugs as compared to women.
  3. Among the people struggling with drug addiction in the US, only 10% of them receive recovery coaching.
  4. Drug addiction costs the US more than $740 billion every year in healthcare expenses, workplace productivity, and crime.
  5. Drug addiction is a disease that alters brain chemistry, but it can be reversed through a recovery life coaching program.
  6. About 25 percent of people who try heroin become addicts.
  7. Drug addiction doesn’t have a single cause but rather a combination of biological, environmental, social and developmental factors that influence the risk for addiction.
  8. Roughly 7 out of 10 deaths of overdose deaths are due to opioids.
  9. About 2 to 3 patients who take prescription opioids misuse them.
  10. The longer drug dependence continues, the stronger the addiction becomes.


The illicit drug heroin is one of the most addictive opioids. The drug causes intense alteration of the brain chemistry, creating imbalances in hormonal systems. People inject, smoke, sniff, or snort heroin. Research has shown that misuse of prescription opioids paves the way for heroin use. A report by the National Institute of Drug Abuse indicates that around 4 to 6 patients who abuse prescription opioids switch to heroin.

The following are the heroin warning signs of use:

  • Slurred speech
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Agitation or drowsiness
  • Needle marks on arms and legs suggesting intravenous use
  • Constricted pupils
  • Memory problems
  • Constipation
  • Collapsed veins due to frequent injection of the drug
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dry mouth
  • Severe itching
  • Nose sores or runny nose for people who sniff or snort it.


The good news is that people addicted to heroin can be helped into and through recovery. There are various recovery programs that can help heroin addicts to recover. Recovery coaching helps to ease cravings and withdrawal symptoms. So how long does it take to withdraw from heroin? Well, this will depend on a wide range of factors a person’s body chemistry, typical dosage, the duration of use, and the method of use. Typically, each person will have a unique experience depending on a variety of factors. There’s no definitive duration for heroin withdrawal. However, long-term heroin users will take longer to withdraw as compared to short-term users.

The effects of painkiller addiction range from health complications to social challenges and financial problems. Painkiller abuse affects almost every area of the addict’s life, from social life to professional life to physical health. The common effects of painkiller addiction include social isolation, financial difficulties, engaging in risky behaviors like driving under the influence, incarceration, homelessness, depression, crumbling relationships, and even death.

If you or someone you know is battling with opiate addiction, contact HKC recovery coaching. Being addicted to opioids is a serious condition, but recovery is possible. There’s help out there, and you don’t have to hit rock bottom to start your journey to recovery. Take the first step to recovery by calling HKC recovery coaching today.

If you are ready to make your pain the source of your power, just give us a call!

Addiction has become major problem of modern humanity. It should be known that HKC is not just a drug addiction recovery center. Primarily, HKC recovery coaching is a place for those who are ready to change and can no longer remain in despair. Our goal is to create a supportive environment so that you can better understand yourself and destroy your addictions, fears, and fixations. Remember, you are not alone in your struggle. If you are ready to make your pain the source of your power, just give us a call!