What is Opioid Addiction?
The disease of addiction has been defined in many ways by the use of terms, slogans and misperceptions. Opioid addiction is consistent with that of other addictive disorders in terms of its definition: a maladaptive pattern of pathological use marked by a physiological and psychological inability to quit or control use and as a result the individual’s social, emotional, behavioral, interpersonal relationships, and/or employment have been compromised.
The onset of addiction can be rapid and severe, depending upon the amount and frequency of use. Individuals who are opioid dependent will “crave” more of the drug and will experience symptoms of withdrawal if they do not receive their regular “fix” or dose. Opioids stimulate the “pleasure center” by releasing an excess of dopamine in the body. Once the brain’s chemistry is altered, it causes users to need an opioid continuously.
As a result of the chemical dependency, individuals who are addicted to prescription pain medications/opioids or heroin can develop an expensive habit that often times results in spending excessive amounts of money on a daily basis. Most individuals are unable to keep up the expense of supporting their dependency. Consequently, individuals typically resort to unhealthy lifestyle choices in an effort to support their addiction.