Opioid Use Disorder and Prescription Drugs

Exploring Opioid Use Disorder and Prescription Drugs

Opioid use disorder is a major challenge in the United States, where opioid-related deaths have nearly quadrupled since the year 1999. With an increase in opioid-related deaths, people are concerned that opioids could be leading to a resurgence in heroin use and declining addiction treatment rates.

In general, prescription drug abuse is also a growing concern with overprescribing and subsequent abuse may lead to high levels of addiction. Another key concern is the relationship between prescription drug abuse and painkiller overdoses, which are not only deadly but also cause major health issues like kidney damage and withdrawal symptoms.

Fortunately, if you or a loved one struggles with opioid use disorder, help is available. There are a variety of treatment programs in New Jersey that can help.


What is Opioid Use Disorder?

Opioid use disorder describes a pattern of opioid use that results in significant impairment or distress. As with many substance abuse disorders, the extent of impairment and distress varies depending on the person. People with opioid use disorder may be abusing prescription opioids, heroin, or a combination of both.


Signs of Opioid Use Disorder

If you suspect that a loved one might be struggling with opioid use disorder, take a close look at their behaviors. Here are some common signs:

  • Drowsiness
  • Lack of personal hygiene
  • Cravings
  • Isolation
  • Criminal behavior
  • Insomnia Flu symptoms


Other Highly Addictive Prescription Drugs

Opioids are not the only class of medication that can be addictive. There are other highly addictive prescription medications. These include:

  • Tranxene (Ativan)
  • Lorazepam (Diazepam)
  • Roxicodone
  • Buprenorphine (Subutex, Suboxone)
  • Methadone
  • Hydrocodone/Oxycodone (Vicodin, Lortab, Norco)


Opioid Use Disorder and Prescriptions Drugs with Alcohol

Many prescription medications can be more dangerous when combined with alcohol or other drugs. For example, a combination of oxycodone and alcohol can cause respiratory depression, overdose, or death. Hydrocodone can be used as an alternative to street drugs like heroin. Some prescription medications have been demonstrated to be more addictive and are often used with alcohol or other drugs.

Side Effects of Codeine

Codeine is a form of opioid medication that is used to treat pain. It has side effects similar to that of morphine. Some of the most common side effects include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Upset stomach
  • Vomiting

Side Effects of Fentanyl

Fentanyl is a strong opioid medication that is used to treat severe pain. It has a high risk of abuse and overdose due to its intense euphoric effects. Some of the other side effects include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Respiratory depression
  • Fainting spells
  • Confusion

Side Effects of Hydrocodone

Hydrocodone is among the most common prescription opioid medication. It is an opioid that is used to treat pain. Side effects include:

  • Constipation
  • Respiratory depression
  • Vomiting


Is Opioid Use Disorder Dangerous?

Opioids such as heroin and prescription pills have been demonstrated to be riskier than alcohol. Opioids are both highly addictive and commonly result in overdose. According to the CDC, more than 100+ Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.


How Addiction Happens

Addiction is commonly described as a complicated disorder that involves a number of factors like genetics or environmental influences. Addictive substances like opioids can interfere with the brain’s pleasure centers, which then causes cravings. Over time, these cravings can lead to addiction. Treatment options such as inpatient rehab or outpatient treatment programs can help reduce the risk of relapse and aid in forming new, healthy habits.


Treatment of Opioid Use Disorder and Prescription Drugs

Opioids are highly addictive, and they can lead to significant impairment and distress if misused. Although opioids are effective at treating severe pain, they can be addictive, and tolerance may develop over time. In addition, opioids should not be taken for an extended period of time due to the risk of addiction. If you or someone close to you struggles with opioid use disorder and prescription drug abuse, there are many treatment options to consider. Treatment options can include inpatient rehab, outpatient treatment, or even counseling.


How Opioids and Prescription Drugs Affect the Brain

Opioids and prescription drugs do not work on their own. These drugs bind to opioid receptors located inside specific areas of the brain that control pain perception and reward systems. The most common opioid painkillers, such as morphine and oxycodone, work by blocking the pain messages from the brain to the rest of the body, especially in the brain. They also change levels of neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin.

The effects of prescription drugs are often perceived to be more intense than they actually are. Nonetheless, not everyone becomes addicted after taking an opioid prescription medication. Furthermore, those who do become dependent on opioids may experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking them.


MAT for Opioids

The common treatment for opioid use disorder and prescription drug abuse is medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is proven to help people overcome their addiction. This therapy includes medications that block the effects of opioids, which reduces cravings and withdrawal symptoms. It also uses other drugs that aid in detoxification, relieve cravings, and prevent relapse.

Treatment is available to help you stop taking opioids. Contact NJ Rehabs to learn more about high-quality treatment programs in New Jersey.