How the Opiate Abuse Cycle Can Lead to Addiction

How the Opiate Abuse Cycle Can Lead to Addiction


The problem with opiate abuse is that over time it changes our bodies chemistry and can cause addiction to occur.  At that point, the person who is abusing opiates will start to crave the drug and eventually it will become a priority in their life.  How does this happen?

Say you are taking an opiate each day, such as Vicodin or Heroin.  Maybe you have a prescription for the drug or maybe you do not.  It really does not matter.  Now if you follow the prescription exactly and take only what is prescribed to you, then your chances of becoming addicted to the drug are somewhat diminished.  But in some cases, a person can still follow the prescription amounts and still end up abusing the drug to a small degree, and thus they can eventually develop dependence.

Basically, your body uses opiates to regulate how you feel physically.  In fact, your body naturally produces opiates on its own in order to help you get through traumatic situations that have high stress.  This is just part of our survival mechanisms.  Our bodies naturally feed us a small trickle of opiates just so we can get up each day and walk around and feel decent.

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Creative Commons License photo credit: Mr. T in DC

Now if you are taking a great deal of opiate drugs every day, and you continue to do so for a long time, then your body’s ability to produce its own opiates is somewhat diminished.  Basically it will stop producing opiates because the pills are providing all that the body needs. If you go beyond what is recommended by your prescription in taking the medications, then this abuse of opiates will lead to this condition even faster.  Your body will stop producing opiates, and thus you will come to rely on taking them externally.  If you try to go without taking them, your body will crave the drug. Thus addiction can develop from prolonged abuse, because the abuse of the opiates slowly changes our body’s chemistry.

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Obviously, the way to break out of this cycle is through abstinence. This can be hard to get through on your own so you may have to enlist some help in order to do so.  Going to detox makes this part fairly easy to deal with.  After leaving rehab though, it is up to you to find new ways to medicate your pain that do not involve taking opiates.  Putting opiate drugs back into your system will start the cycle all over again.

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