Opioids are a type of drug that relieves pain and produces feelings of euphoria or pleasure (high). Some opioids can be used legally via medical prescriptions to help individuals manage chronic pain. These include oxycodone, morphine, fentanyl, methadone, and codeine.

However, there’s a high risk of abusing opioids. For example, people might continue taking opioids even if they’re no longer necessary. These people might be suffering from a devastating mental condition called opioid addiction.

Opioid addiction, also known as opioid use disorder, is a chronic condition that can cause health, economic, and social problems. This occurs when someone takes opioids in a destructive, compulsive, and uncontrollable pattern.

People who are addicted to opioids prioritize opioids over their normal day-to-day activities. This can put a strain on their relationships with others, both personal and professional—for example, spending time taking opioids instead of working or eating with the family.

If you or a loved one suffers from opioid addiction, you might need immediate medical attention. You can also visit https://www.jacksonhouserehab.com/treatment/opioid-addiction/ or other similar links for addiction treatment programs.

If you want to know more about opioid addiction, you’re on the right page. This post will discuss essential topics about opioid addiction, including the causes, risk factors, diagnosis, treatment options, and the recovery process. Read on to learn more.

What Are The Causes Of Opioid Addiction?


The causes of opioid abuse may vary depending on how environmental factors influence an individual’s thinking. Environmental factors may include:

• Family

Individuals from abusive families are prone to chronic stress and trauma. Children raised in a family with a history of traumatic events such as mental illness, physical abuse, violence, and the like are at greater risk of developing an addiction.

In addition, children who’ve experienced authoritative parenting styles are more likely to become addicted to substances such as opioids. Authoritative parents aren’t affectionate to their children. As a result, their children will look for that affection from other people, which can influence them to drink or use substances.

• Friends

Your friends and associates can shape your behavior and attitude toward drugs. If your friends have a history of using opioids, you’re more likely to be influenced by their addictive behaviors and eventually follow them.

Be wary of individuals who mock those with no plans to abuse opioids. Also, avoid people who have no interest in other activities that don’t involve the use of drugs.

• Culture And Media

These days, the use of substances is often glamorized by multiple media outlets, including TV shows, movies, celebrities, and even music videos. They make people think that using addictive drugs like opioids is acceptable even when it isn’t.

Because of how media portrays the use of addictive substances, individuals, particularly young adults (college students), are being influenced to try them. And when they do, they’ll have a hard time fighting off the addictive effects of these drugs.

Opioid addiction may also develop based on how individuals use their opioid medications. They might become dependent on the drug, but that doesn’t mean they’re already addicted. However, there’s a slight chance they might become addicted to the drug.

What Are The Symptoms Of Opioid Addiction?

Opioid addiction can be characterized by the following symptoms:

• Unhealthy and frequent opioid usage
• Opioid cravings, including physical and emotional urges, despite knowing its health consequences
• Drowsiness
• Unexplained and unexpected weight loss
• Increasingly frequent flu-like symptoms
• Decreased sexual desire or libido
• Unhealthy personal hygiene
• Changes in physical activities
• Being isolated from friends and family members
• Stealing habits
• Financial problems due to unhealthy behavior
• Unhealthy sleeping habits


Sometimes, it can be obvious when someone is addicted to opioids. However, they might deny that fact despite their unhealthy, addictive behavior. If they do, don’t force them to open up. Instead, wait for them to speak for themselves, but that doesn’t mean giving up on them.

You may encourage them day by day until they realize they need help from someone. If they do, help them recover and accompany them in every step of the treatment process. They’ll need every support available to overcome their addiction.

Who Are At Risk Of Developing Opioid Addiction?

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If an individual uses unprescribed methods when taking opioids, they’re more likely to succumb to the drug’s addictive effects. Some people might try to crush it in a way that’d allow them to inject the drug into their bodies.

Such unprescribed methods can be life-threatening and may result in an accidental drug overdose. The same goes for taking more than the prescribed opioid dosage, which can also increase the risk of developing addictive behaviors.

Below are the known risk factors of opioid addiction:

• Poverty and unemployment
• Family history of opioid abuse
• Age, especially since young ones are more likely to develop opioid addiction than adults
• Personal history of criminal activities
• Involvement with high-risk individuals and environments
• A history of mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety
• Participating in risky activities
• Frequent and uncontrollable tobacco use
• Stressful environments and situations
• Problematic employers, friends, and family members


Also, women are more prone to opioid addiction than men because they’re at a higher risk of developing chronic pain. This may result in early exposure to opioid medications to manage their conditions.

On top of that, women are more likely to become drug dependent compared to men. They might require higher doses of opioid medications in a shorter period of time, making them vulnerable to opioid addiction.

How Is Opioid Addiction Diagnosed?

Opioid addiction can be diagnosed based on the criteria provided by the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). If the following criteria have been met in the span of 12 months, an individual is confirmed to be suffering from opioid use disorder.

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DSM-5 criteria for diagnosing OUD are as follows:

1. Opioids are taken in bigger amounts or for a longer time than intended.
2. There’s are unsuccessful attempts to cut down use of opioid.
3. A large amount of time is allotted in activities to use the opioid or recover from it.
4. There’s a desire to have opioids.
5. Recurrent use, which could result to failure in fulfilling obligations at work, home, or school.
6. Continued use of opioid in spite of having recurrent social problems caused or exacerbated by the effects of opioids.
7. Important activities are reduced or given up because of opioid use.
8. Recurrent opioid use in physically hazardous situations.
9. Continued use despite the knowledge of having a recurrent psychological or physical problem that’s most likely to have been exacerbated by opioids.
10. Tolerance, as defined by a desire for higher levels of opioids to reach intoxication and decreased effect with continuous use.
11. Withdrawal, as manifested by the opioid withdrawal syndrome and the same substance is taken to avoid symptoms of withdrawal.


The number of satisfied criteria will determine the severity of OUD.

• Mild OUD: Two to three criteria
• Moderate OUD: Four to five criteria
• Severe OUD: Six or more criteria


Physical exams and laboratory tests are also required to confirm the symptoms of opioid addiction as well as its complications.

The following physical indicators can ascertain the development of OUD:

• Scars located in the veins, which indicate possible previous opioid injections
• Drowsiness, changes in speech, and dilated pupils, which indicate opioid intoxication

After the physical exam, laboratory tests will follow. These may include:

• Urine tests for the following substances: ethyl glucuronide, opioids, benzodiazepines, and other drugs
• Complete blood count (CBC) tests to determine and confirm the presence of bacterial infections and other complications
• Tests to determine and confirm the presence of HIV and hepatitis A/B due to consistent intravenous (IV) injections
• Vaccinations for patients who tested negative for hepatitis B serology despite consistent opioid injections
• Tests for serum bilirubin, liver enzymes, and serum creatinine levels to determine the condition of the liver and kidney
• Tests to determine and confirm the presence of tuberculosis (TB) or syphilis


After the criteria evaluation, physical exams, and laboratory tests, the healthcare professional is ready to create a complete diagnosis of your condition.

How Is Opioid Addiction Treated?

Individuals suffering from OUD may undergo several treatment procedures to overcome their addiction. These include withdrawal treatment, medication-assisted treatment (MAT), inpatient or outpatient treatment, and psychotherapy.


• Withdrawal Treatment

Withdrawal treatment, or detoxification, is the first part of the treatment process. It removes all the traces of substances (opioids) in one’s body. When an individual addicted to opioids suddenly stops using them, withdrawal symptoms may occur within 24 hours.

Symptoms include:

o Sweating
o Anxiety
o Chills
o Agitation
o Insomnia
o Nausea
o Vomiting
o Muscle aches

Withdrawal symptoms may persist in the next 72 hours before starting to relieve. Unlike withdrawal from alcohol and other drugs, opioid withdrawal is rarely life-threatening but can cause a great deal of discomfort.

After getting rid of the drug, the treatment must be continued to prevent relapse—using opioids despite quitting.

• Medication-Assisted Therapy

Some medications can help people stop taking opioids by reducing their cravings and preventing the addictive effects of the drugs. These medications can be a part of the treatment process for OUD. However, they’re not substitutes for opioids.

Here are the three medications that may help treat OUD:

o Methadone: This medication can manage withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings. It can also be used to relieve pain.
o Buprenorphine: This is another medication that can reduce cravings. However, it doesn’t produce euphoria.
o Naltrexone: This medication works differently from buprenorphine and methadone. It blocks the addictive effects of opioids, including euphoria and feelings of pleasure.

Individuals who have strong social support may respond better to these medications. Also, make sure to consult a healthcare professional before taking these drugs to prevent adverse side effects and possible complications.

• Inpatient Or Outpatient Treatment

Inpatient treatment is an intensive treatment plan ideal for individuals suffering from severe OUD. It requires the patient to stay 24/7 in a residential facility to be closely monitored by a team of healthcare professionals, including nurses, psychiatrists, and psychologists.

On the other hand, outpatient treatment doesn’t require a 24/7 stay in a residential facility. However, the individual is required to attend treatment sessions several times a week. Also, outpatient treatment is ideal for treating mild to moderate cases of OUD.

Inpatient and outpatient treatment programs might include MAT, withdrawal symptoms, and psychotherapy.

• Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy, or counseling, is essential for treating OUD. It helps individuals address and improve the thoughts and behaviors that forced them to commit opioid addiction. It also teaches them how to cope with the symptoms, cravings, and relapse of OUD.

Psychotherapy includes educational services, family-based support, community-based support, and group therapy (e.g., Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous).

How To Recover From Opioid Addiction?

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Once you’re done with the treatment program, you need to focus on your recovery to completely overcome your opioid addiction. Below are some helpful tips you should know:

• Stay In An Opioid-Free Environment: This will help you focus on healing and prevent relapse and substance cravings.
• Avoid Triggers: Triggers can be objects, situations, people, or environments related to your addiction. These can cause relapse and cravings. Therefore, it’d be best to avoid them as much as possible.
• Establish Goals: Do you want to finish college? Do you want to visit new places? Do you want to be healthier? Goals like these can set you up for a better path and help you achieve complete sobriety.
• Prioritize Health: Being healthy is crucial to addiction recovery. If you’re healthy, your body will be able to rebuild and recover faster. Eat a nutritious diet, drink plenty of water, and exercise.
• Attend Support Groups: Support groups are groups of people with similar experiences. You can share some of your tips to help others or learn from other people’s experiences to help yourself recover.

Final Words

Opioid addiction is a compulsive and uncontrollable use of opioids that can cause health, economic, and social problems. If you or a loved one suffers from opioid addiction, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Only then will you be able to free yourself from the tight grip of addiction. Consider the ideas mentioned here as you plan and prepare.