Overcoming opiate addiction & opiate effects on the body

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Overcoming opiate addiction & opiate effects on the body

  1. 1. Overcoming Opiate Addiction & OpiateEffects on the BodyApril 15, 2013| Last Updated on Thursday, 25 April, 2013 15:51Opiate addiction is one of the hardest addictions to beat, but with a little knowledge you can prepareyourself for the battle that lies ahead of you. If you are uninformed about the effects of opiate addictionon the brain, it will be helpful for you to learn as much information as possible. The better educatedyou are when it comes to opiate addiction, the better chance you have at success when it comes totreating opiate dependence and starting a new life for yourself.Dependence on opiate dependence has been defined as a serious, long term disease by theWorld Health Organization and is something that an individual must tend to for the rest oftheir lives if they plan on staying well.In order to understand opiate dependence, it’s important to define the symptoms of an opiate addict.The following are signs of opiate dependence if more than three of these behaviors are exhibited over atwelve month period.• More of the same drug is needed to feel the effect• Taking other drugs to cancel out withdrawal symptoms, or experiencingwithdrawal symptoms in general• Taking larger amounts than you intended to• Trying to quit on your own, unsuccessfully• Spending a significant amount of time obtaining, using and recovering fromopiates• Missing work or other important functions• Using opiates despite having suffered a negative consequence• Isolating from friends and family who do not use opiatesMany people may exhibit one of these traits while using opiates but the real signifier of whether or notyou are addicted to opiates is if you are experiencing at least three of these symptoms. Once you cansay that you are an addict, it’s important to understand that there are complex, long term changes thathave taken place in your brain.Opiate addiction changes brain chemistry significantly and alters the way in the brain reacts to certainstimuli. Because of the harsh changes that take place in the brain, it’s important to understand that youcan still have cravings months and even years after you have stopped taking them, which is whyabstinence alone is not beneficial to treating opiate dependence.Addiction occurs in the brain because opiates directly affect what is referred to as the “reward circuit”.This area of the brain is signaled whenever opiates are taken and dopamine is released into the bodythereby rewarding the drug user for taking opiates. This negative behavior then becomes reinforced andthe mind incorrectly thinks that drug use is a good thing.Taking things a step further, the brain eventually sees opiate use as something that needs tobe done in order to survive. This is what causes withdrawal and cravings.
  2. 2. An opiate addict is often motivated by stress, anxiety and psychical pain to get more opiates in order torelieve those negative feelings. It is this behavior that baffles many people who do not understandaddiction or the scientific principles behind the way in which an addicts brain chemistry is altered.Many people think that there is a choice involved when it comes to addiction, but it has been proventime and time again the chronic drug users have brains that have been severely affected in certain areas,namely the ones that control decision making, judgment and self-control.This isn’t to say that if a person is willing to change that they can’t. The disease of addiction is highlytreatable and if the addict begins treatment and has an aftercare program to help them treat theiraddiction they can overcome it. Addicts can have periods of time where they are symptom free, as wellas periods of time when they are symptomatic. It is important to understand that an addict has a verylow chance of taking care of themselves while they are showing symptoms of their disease andtherefore treatment is almost always necessary.Much like heart disease and diabetes, there is no cure for opiate addiction, but with managed care it canbe successfully treated. Many people struggle to understand how one person may become addicted toopiates while other do not. This is because most people who use opiates will not get addicted,suggesting that there are a number of other factors involved when it comes to opiate addiction. Forinstance, addiction runs in families and therefore has strong genetic roots.Opiate addiction is also rooted in psychiatric dispositions such as anxiety, depression andbipolar disorder. Intelligence, or having a risk taking personality, are other factors thatcontribute to whether or not a person will become addicted to opiates.Scientists have asserted that genetic factors account for nearly 60% of opiate dependence and thereforeit’s important to examine your family tree at a young age in order to determine whether or not you arepredisposed to opiate dependence. Scientists have also concluded that the biggest causes of relapse areknown as “triggers”. These include the people, places and things that the addict associated with thedeeply embedded notions of opiate use.In order to avoid relapse, it’s important to avoid any and alltriggers to the best of your ability.The technical term for these thought processes is called “conditioned associations” whereinthe brain will euphorically recall and crave for opiate use if triggered by memories that areselectively and randomly stored in the brain.Oftentimes an addict has no control when it comes to their triggers, but the important thing is to comeup with a plan for avoiding obvious ones and reacting in a positive way that does not include drug useto other ones. Relapse is common and does not mean that treatment has failed. It simple means that anew course of action may be needed in order to treat the person in recovery. Whether a more intenseprogram is needed, or a different approach all together, your health care provider can help the opiateaddict to come up with a new course of action that will be more beneficial and decrease chances ofanother relapse.

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