Even when prescribed legally, opioids can lead to serious addiction and dependence issues. People addicted to this class of drug often run afoul of the law, which results in jail time, fines, and other penalties.
While legal issues can derail your life indefinitely, opioids also pose a far graver risk. According to the Mayo Clinic, opioids cause the majority of overdose deaths within the United States. Additionally, anyone who takes opioids for a length of time can become addicted. In fact, using this medication beyond a few days greatly increases the chance of extended use.
How opioid addiction works
Your brain produces endorphins, which reduce feelings of pain while also creating a sense of euphoria. Opioids, like heroin, also release endorphins. However, the sensation is short-lived, so the user must continue taking the substance to experience the same feeling.
Over time, the user will become desensitized to the effects of the drug. As a result, they must take more and more of the opioid, which is how addiction occurs. After using for so long, the body will experience withdrawal effects, which make it much harder to quit.
Risk factors for addiction
While it is true that anyone can become addicted, there are certain risk factors that make it more likely. People with a family history of drug abuse, those who have abused drugs themselves in the past, people who live in poverty, people without employment, young people, and people with a history of anxiety and depression often experience higher rates of addiction.
When taking medication for legitimate purposes, you must follow doctor’s orders. If you experience withdrawal effects or cravings after taking opioids, seek immediate treatment. Most importantly, do not believe you are immune from the effects of addiction.