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The Science Behind How Opioid Addiction Begins

The Science Behind How an Opioid Addiction Begins

It is important to understand that even short-term opioid use can lead to addiction. There is a science behind how opioid addiction and dependence on these narcotics begins.

Since the mid-1990s, opioid narcotics have become some of the most commonly abused drugs throughout the country. This trend began with the over prescription of opioid medications like oxycodone and hydrocodone. Pharmaceutical companies pushed out these medications in mass amounts, assuring prescribers that they were entirely safe to use and that no serious side effects would occur so long as they were taken as prescribed. 

However, it was soon discovered that medications like oxycodone and hydrocodone were highly addictive and that even when people took them exactly as they were prescribed, they were still developing physical and psychological dependencies.

Can Opiate Abuse be Effectively Prevented?

The government tried to crack down on distribution, but this had a negative effect, and many people who had already become dependent on these painkillers resorted to a more affordable alternative – heroin. We are currently in the midst of what has become known as a nationwide opioid epidemic. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, over 50,000 innocent men and women lost their lives to opioid addiction in the year 2019 alone. 

It is estimated that around 6% of all individuals who are prescribed a painkiller will eventually transition to heroin. It is also estimated that around 25% of all men and women who are prescribed an opioid narcotic medication will eventually begin to abuse it. To fully understand the epidemic and to understand the severity of opioid abuse and addiction, it is important to know the science behind how opioid addiction occurs. 

The Science Behind How an Opioid Addiction Begins

How Does Opioid Addiction Happen?

It is important to understand that even short-term opioid use can lead to addiction. The majority of men and women who develop an opioid addiction do not begin by abusing opioid narcotics. They are either prescribed medication and they slowly increase their dose without medical supervision, or they continue taking the medication even though a medical professional suggests that they stop with their current dose.

Opiates Target The Brain’s Neurochemistry to Encourage Physical Dependence

The science of opioid addiction has everything to do with the way that the brain functions. Once an opioid is introduced to the system, neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin are triggered, which leads to pain relief and feelings of euphoria. When a doctor prescribes a prescription painkiller like oxycodone or hydrocodone, these neurotransmitters are released, and pain is reduced over time. 

However, when an individual takes more than the prescribed dose of an opioid painkiller, a great amount of dopamine and serotonin are released into the brain, which leads to an intense rush of euphoria. While this may feel good at first, the brain then has a difficult time regulating these feel-good chemicals on its own. This means that things that normally would result in please do not do so anymore, and so the brain believes that it needs more of the drug to feel good. 

We Offer Opioid Addiction Recovery That Works

At Evoke Waltham, we believe that adequate recovery resources should be readily available to anyone that needs them at any point in time. For this reason, we have developed a program of recovery that is both convenient and accessible. If you or someone you love has been struggling with an addiction of any severity, we are available to help. Simply contact us through our website, and we will immediately set up an appointment that is either in person, over the phone, or virtual. We know that in this day and age especially, it can be very difficult to enter into a program of recovery in a timely manner. 

This is why our program caters to the needs of those who cannot immediately access a traditional detox center or inpatient treatment facility. To learn more about our recovery program, or to begin your journey of healing – however that may look – simply got into contact with us. We look forward to speaking with you soon and helping you in any way possible. At Evoke Waltham, opioid addiction medication-assisted treatment and recovery from opiate abuse are truly at your fingertips.