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Opioid Addiction and Treatment

What Are Opioids? 

Opioids refer to legal and illicit drugs that relieve pain through receptor cells in the brain that increase pleasure and suppress pain. By blocking the brain from sending messages to the body, opioid users increase dopamine levels, the neurotransmitter responsible for pleasure and reward.

This family of narcotics is split into two categories: opiates and opioids. Opiates, such as heroin and opium, are naturally derived from the flowering poppy plant, while opioids are engineered in a lab or research facility; however, opioids are designed to achieve the same effects as opiates. These drugs are prescribed by a doctor to treat anxiety, severe pain, and coughing spells. Although these two categories are made differently, abuse of either can cause permanent damage to psychological and physical health.

Since opioids produce feelings of euphoria, relaxation, and pleasure, they are one of the most abused and addictive drugs today. Even when prescribed by doctors, opioids can lead to physical dependency and increased tolerance, especially in pain management.

Opioid Drugs

Prescription opioids include:

  • Codeine
  • Fentanyl
  • Hydrocodone
  • Hydromorphone
  • Meperidine
  • Methadone
  • Morphine
  • Oxycodone

Illicit opiates, meaning highly addictive and illegal drugs, include:

  • Heroin
  • Opium

Short-Term Effects of Opioid Addiction

Short-term opioid use can cause relaxation, drowsiness, slurred speech, loss of consciousness, nausea, slowed breathing and/or heart rate, and even coma. Because opioids work by depressing the central nervous system and binding to opioid receptors in the brain, bodily functions, and movements slow down significantly. Consequent overdoses occur by fatal choking due to a depressed respiratory system.

When a person becomes addicted to opioids and is experiencing some of these effects daily from frequent use, maintaining friendships and relationships with family becomes impossible. The person becomes wholly consumed with achieving their “first high.” They may be willing to spend large amounts of money, lie, steal, or manipulate even their closest loved ones in order to obtain more opioids. These strains cause lasting severances in relationships that can only be repaired through therapy and recovery.

Effects of Chronic Opioid Addiction

Over time, chronic opioid use leads to increased tolerance, which creates a need for more in order to achieve the same effect. As physical dependence grows and the desired effects seem impossible to reach, this can cause doses to jump into toxic levels resulting in overdose, coma, or death.

Depression of the respiratory system from misuse of opioids can lead to labored breathing. This condition is called hypoxia, which causes lasting neurological damage as well as damage to internal organs from oxygen deprivation. Hypoxia can present as confusion, rapid heartbeat, coughing, shortness of breath, or headaches. More seriously, it can lead to permanent brain damage, coma, and even death.

Withdrawal Symptoms and the Importance of Detox

Withdrawal symptoms are the main reason people with opioid use disorder have such difficulty detoxing. Withdrawal side effects from extended opioid use are not only uncomfortable and difficult to manage, but they can also be dangerous and life-threatening.

Withdrawal side effects can include:

  • Nausea
  • Goosebumps
  • Muscle cramps
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Chest pains
  • High blood pressure
  • Insomnia
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tremors
  • Excessive yawning
  • Restlessness and irritability

Along with these unpleasant side effects come immense cravings for more drugs. Often, without a medically assisted detox, individuals cannot achieve complete sobriety because managing withdrawal symptoms proves too difficult. This process can feel discouraging and intimidating when trying to manage it yourself; that’s why receiving professional treatment for opioid addiction is essential in reaching lasting recovery. During detoxification, individuals are gradually weaned off of opioids and closely monitored by medical staff on a 24/7 basis. Detoxification can take anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks.

Opioid Addiction Treatment at Laguna Shores Recovery 

At Laguna Shores Recovery in Mission Viejo, California, we aim to help those who struggle with addiction. We understand that opioid addiction affects everyone differently, and clients will have different goals coming into treatment. That’s why we offer individualized plans unique to each of our clients, where they can make the most of our services.

Our medical professionals will begin to replace unhealthy coping mechanisms while working with you to build confidence around your ability to reach lasting recovery. Our residential treatment center incorporates activities such as group therapy, experiential therapy—such as yoga, equine therapy, outdoor adventures, beach trips, museum trips—evidence-based individual psychotherapy, and skills workshops to help build your life outside of addiction.

By participating in our detox program, clients will learn vital tools that will help prevent relapse in the future. This is the first and perhaps most crucial step to recovery. Once we ease the pains of withdrawal in our medical detox facility, our clients can begin their residential treatment where they will receive nothing but support and encouragement with even the smallest accomplishments in recovery. In this stage, clients participate in one-on-one therapy with dual-diagnosis treatment of any co-occurring disorders.

Laguna Shores Recovery understands the importance of a supportive community for lasting recovery. Opioid addictions can be isolating, and we work to build a strong network for our clients, so they never feel they have nowhere to turn. We put focus on fun activities like exploring downtown Los Angeles, hiking, art, and horticulture because we believe in treating the whole person.

Opioid addiction is a dangerous disease that can impact all areas of an individual’s life. At Laguna Shores Recovery, our mission is to repair the damage caused by addiction through learning new coping skills and discovering new passions. Call us today to learn about our individualized treatment plans that will guide you to a lasting recovery at (866) 229-9923.