Opioids are a class of drugs that include the illicit drug heroin as well as the licit prescription pain relievers oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, fentanyl and others.
Opioids are chemically related and interact with opioid receptors on nerve cells in the brain
and nervous system to produce pleasurable effects and relieve pain.
Addiction is a primary, chronic and relapsing brain disease characterized by an individual
pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors.
Of the 21.5 million Americans 12 or older that had a substance use disorder in 2014, 1.9
million had a substance use disorder involving prescription pain relievers and 586,000 had
a substance use disorder involving heroin.
It is estimated that 23% of individuals who use heroin develop opioid addiction
Why does the addict continue this behavior?
Why do we continue to engage in a behavior that we know is killing us and ruining our relationships with those we love?
The answers will come in later blogs. I want to shed just a glimpse of light on the pain of addiction. In future blogs I will attempt to address the stigma that comes with addiction.
We are at an interesting point in our country’s history when it comes to addiction. We see and hear all over the news that there is an opioid epidemic in this country. Many well-meaning people are crying out that we need to do something about it.
All you need to do is look up the CDC’s current reports on opioid addiction in this country, and you will see alarming numbers of overdose and deaths as it relates to these powerful drugs.
And at the same time, we live in a culture where those who are not suffering from this disease, or are yet seemingly unaffected by it, are yelling back, “stay out of my backyard! Don’t bring that trash anywhere near me.Go get treatment but don’t do it anywhere near me. I’m sick of watching these junkies hang around at the highway exit or in the downtown area where I like to sit and have my coffee!”
What they don’t understand is that they are in fact, already being affected. And the chances are, they will have a loved one who falls prey to this dehumanizing experience.