The opioid epidemic (opioid dependence and addiction) has become a national crisis, with more than 90 Americans dying every day after overdosing on opioids. Opioids are common and effective drugs that doctors prescribe to treat chronic body pain (pain not related to cancer), however, they carry serious risks if used incorrectly. Most people are of the belief that the opioid epidemic is a distant issue that won’t hit home, but opioid abuse affects millions of Americans and it can take its toll on friends and families around those suffering from addiction. So it is important to understand what’s true and what’s myth (what opioid addiction is and what it isn’t), it is important to separate fact from the fiction when it comes to opioids.
It is important to debunk the myths about this drug, since such common misconceptions are what prevent many people from getting help. People of all ages who have a substance addiction disorder and individuals with a history of substance abuse must seek addiction counseling, New York City, which can be instrumental in helping to prevent serious mental and physical diseases, disorders and conditions due to excessive, long-term exposure to drugs.
Here are some of the most common misconceptions about opioid addiction:
Myth: A medicine prescribed by a doctor cannot be addictive.
There isn’t anything inherently bad or wrong about a doctor prescribing a drug, which are essentially tools that doctors use for their patients. The same applies for opioid pain medications, which doctor prescribe for managing acute pain, such as pain from surgery or a broken bone. However, some people continue taking the medication for prolonged periods, even after they no longer need it. It could be attributed to either how the medicine makes them feel, or they became dependent on the drug, so much so that they experience difficult physical withdrawal symptoms when they try to stop taking it.
Any drug causing this level of dependence- where the individual has lost control over the use of the medicine- can become addictive, which means the person continues to use the medicine despite negative consequences or is unable to stop using the drug despite wanting to.
Myth: Individuals who are addicted to opioids are easy to recognize.
Movies and television shows have made us believe that it is easy to spot someone with an addiction (opioid, alcohol, or otherwise). It is far from true, anyone can be addicted to opioids and you may remain in the dark about it, as someone who’s addicted may be able to hold down good jobs and have a “normal” life. Not to mention, there is no specific type of person who may have an addiction, or be at a heightened risk for one.
Myth: It is safer to endure the pain than to risk addiction.
It isn’t logical to bear the pain by avoiding treatment (opioids make it possible for people with certain types of pain to function and lead a good quality life). It’s advised to talk to your doctor if you’re in pain and worried about the risk of addiction with taking certain medication, who’ll be more than willing to walk you through safe and effective ways of taking your medication. The key to avoiding addiction is to understand the risks of opioids, and that it is possible to use them while avoiding addiction. Choosing to avoid a medication out of fear of addiction is no way out.
Myth: People only become addicted to opioids if a person has a history of addiction or if they take a high dose.
There’s no denying that having a family history of substance abuse does increase the risk, but in no way does it have to be present for an addiction to occur. An individual who has no previous history of addiction is as vulnerable to becoming addicted to opioids as someone with a family history.
Coming to the second part, no matter high or low, any dose of an opioid can lead to dependence. Reactions to opioids vary between individuals as does how each person perceives pain, since some people are relieved of pain with just minimal doses, while others require stronger and more frequent doses. No matter which end of the spectrum you fall in, you can become dependent on an opioid.
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