Knowing your Enemy

Knowing your Enemy

February 1st, 2011 Drug Addictions, Helpful Articles

Regional drug and alcohol addiction issues were the focus of The Recovery Place blog in January.  This month we want to take an look at some specific drugs and substances that are abused and can lead to addiction.

Humans are sadly creative in their ability to find substances to misuse and abuse.  Often these substances were originally created with a “do no harm” philosophy, but to some addicts and their families “do harm” is more the catch-phrase.

In our February blog series we’ll take a closer look at various classes of drugs that have addictive qualities, such as opiates (painkillers), benzodiazepines (sedatives or tranquilizers), alcohol and stimulants.

Understanding what is out there can help us educate ourselves and others about the potential dangers in commonly prescribed medications, as well as the absolute danger of street-based drugs.  Education is an important way that we can battle the enemy of addiction in this generation and the next.  This knowledge is important for all of us.

Opiate Addiction Rehab Admissions on the Rise

Opiates are drugs that are made directly or indirectly from parts of the opium poppy.

Opiates were originally used (and still are) to treat pain and suppress some kinds of coughs.  Along with these medicinal properties, a feeling of euphoria (or “high”) and sedation is also experienced.

People began to misuse opiates for the euphoric physical effects that they experienced, and it was soon apparent that opiates were also physically addictive.

Addiction to prescription painkillers is on the rise in the United States. 

Oxycodone (the generic name for Oxycontin and Roxycodone) and hydrocodone (trade names include Vicodin and Lortab) are commonly prescribed opiate prescription pain relievers that are now in great demand as street drugs.

Even patients using oxycodone or hydrocodone for legitimate medical conditions may become physically dependent on these drugs, and it is important that their prescribing physicians monitor them closely.

Oxycodone, an opiate painkiller that is available in a timed-release form, was introduced in the United States in 1996.  It made a huge difference in the lives of cancer patients dealing with extreme pain, by keeping a steady level of pain medicine in the blood.

Unfortunately, addicts soon found that by crushing timed-release painkillers they could get a higher immediate dose of the drug, sometimes a fatal dose.

Heroin, also an opiate, is one of the most addictive of all recreational drugs.  Although originally created as a non-addictive alternative to codeine for the control of coughs (this is a bit hard to imagine with all that we know about heroin now!), it was banned in the United States in the 1920s because of its extremely addictive nature.

Another side effect of opiates is their effect on the respiratory system of the body.  The body does not perceive the need to take breaths as readily, and fatal overdoses from not getting enough oxygen are one of the most common causes of death among heroin addicts.

Heroin withdrawal is difficult and can be extremely uncomfortable.  Medical detox is an addict’s best chance of withdrawing from heroin (and other opiates) in a more controlled way and supportive way.

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