Addressing Opioid Abuse and Misuse
Although opioids are prescribed to help address chronic and persistent pain, it’s important to understand the serious implications of opioid misuse and abuse. In recognition of Medicine Abuse Awareness Month, the experts at North Georgia Recovery Center are here to outline some tips to help keep the risk of opioid misuse, addiction, and overdose to a minimum.
What Are Opioids?
Opioids are a class of synthetic drugs that were created in a lab. They activate the opioid receptors in the brain responsible for feelings of pleasure and pain, making them an effective treatment option for those suffering from chronic pain. Chemical changes affecting these receptors can affect a person’s:
- Stress levels
- Pain levels
- Respiratory rate
Commonly Prescribed Opioids
Some examples of opioids include:
What Causes Misuse & Abuse?
More often than not, when people become addicted to opioids, they are using them for a legitimate reason rather than recreationally. Doctors typically prescribe these medications following an injury, a surgical procedure, or to address persistent pain. About 25% of people who are on opioids to address chronic pain conditions also develop an addiction.
Living with high levels of pain can negatively impact a person’s ability to do everyday tasks, leaving them highly susceptible to becoming reliant on opioids to find relief. However, this dependence can lead people to use more than is prescribed to them, ultimately leading to addiction issues down the road.
Why is it a Cause for Concern?
An overdose happens when a person consumes drugs to the point where their body is incapable of functioning properly, causing normal physiological function to fail. With more than 130 people dying each day from an opioid overdose, opioid misuse addiction is an epidemic heavily affecting the American public.
Signs & Symptoms of Overdosing
Some of the most commonly reported symptoms of an overdose include:
- Sudden and severe changes in body temperature.
- Fainting or passing out.
- Skin turning blu or purplish in color.
- Labored breathing.
- Sudden changes in pulse.
- Having a seizure.
- Confusion or deliriousness.
- Feelings of anxiety.
- Clammy and damp skin.
What to Do
If you think someone may be overdosing, it is important that you call 911 immediately. While waiting for emergency medical professionals to arrive on the scene, follow these tips to help the affected person:
- Don’t let them eat or drink anything.
- Lay them on their side in case they vomit to avoid inhalation.
- Note what drugs they’ve been taking if you can.
- Don’t let them take a cold shower.
Preventing Misuse & Abuse
If you have been placed on an opioid treatment program to address chronic pain or other underlying health issues, keep these tips in mind to prevent unintentional misuse and addiction issues:
- Consider other courses of treatment first.
- Talk with your doctor about potential concerns and side effects.
- Follow up with your doctor regularly during treatment.
- Follow your prescription exactly.
- Avoid drinking alcohol while on opioids.
- Avoid taking medications that interact with your prescription.
- Don’t let other people take your medication.
- Secure your medication out of the reach of others.
- Properly dispose of unused medications.
Seeking Help for Addiction at North Georgia Recovery Center
The road to recovery starts with taking the first step. Let us walk alongside you on the path to sobriety and wellness. When you choose to get treatment at North Georgia Recovery Center, you can rest assured knowing that you will be treated by licensed therapists in our state-of-the-art facilities. Every one of our team members is certified to address and effectively treat the issues that come along with addiction.