You start taking a prescription drug and start feeling better, but over a period, your dependence on the drug increases to the extent that it becomes an addiction. This dependence is similar to using illicit opiates like morphine, codeine, and opium.

Opiates are poppy plant derivatives that are used in the medical world to relieve pain. These drugs, also known as narcotics, can also help improve a person’s sleeping patterns. Morphine, opium, and codeine are the first derivatives and substances like oxycodone, Demerol and others are the human-made derivatives.

OpiatesAnother well-known derivative, heroin, is used for the euphoric feeling it gives. It does not have any medicinal use.

Whether you are using these drugs for medicinal use or recreation, regular use can increase the dependency on the opiate, and this dependency eventually becomes an addiction. Once a person is addicted to it, it would be challenging for him or her to stop craving it even after numerous attempts.

This challenge may not be true for everyone, but most people are unable to quit drugs without professional help. The support of the family and friends, along with the doctor’s help, are needed to help a person quit the addiction.

Opiates Use, Abuse, and Addiction

Some people become addicted to opiates, while others can quit when they don’t need the drugs any longer. It is not clear why this is so. Perhaps the reason lies in the social environment, mental health, circumstances, and genetics.

Here are a few factors that increase the chances of becoming addicted to opiate drugs:

  1. Male – Men seem to be more likely to have drug problems than women. The reason is that there is more expectation from men, and this leads to excess pressure. When the man is unable to cope with the social and work pressures, he turns to drugs. What starts as an occasional use or for medical purposes, soon turns to abuse and finally becomes an addiction.
  2. Mental Health – People with psychological problems are more likely to become dependent on drugs.
  3. Family History – Addiction to opiates is more visible in families with a history of addiction. It involves the genes and hence, if you have a parent, sibling, or a relative with a drug or alcohol addiction, then the likelihood of developing drug addiction is high.
  4. Social Problems – Some people suffer from social problems of loneliness that can lead to depression and anxiety. Drug use is a way of coping with these problems.
  5. Using Recreational Drugs – Sometimes, peer pressure results in using recreational and addictive drugs like cocaine. These cause quicker addiction than prescription drugs.

Although many other reasons will lead a person to abuse substances, the above list represents some of the most apparent causes.

How Does Opiates Addiction Develop?

In the United States alone, nearly 40 million people suffer from injuries and illnesses that are caused due to drug abuse.

A little experimentation with drugs leads to addiction. Or, if the family or medical circumstances are such that you are unable to deal with the pressure, you turn to the opiate or opioid for a brief respite. But, when you start feeling good, there is an inner compulsion to continue with the use. You don’t realize when you have crossed the fine line of regular utilization and gone over to drug abuse. Before you know, you are already addicted to it and unable to quit the habit.

The following are more reasons for the development of addiction:

  1. Extreme Problems – When you have acute problems, you resort to drugs to help you through the phase. You smoke a joint with your friends during a holiday or use heroin during a party. The occasional episodes soon turn to regular events of perhaps, twice a week. Soon you find that the drug is vital to you, and you are abusing it.
  2. Extreme Reliance – When the drug becomes extremely important to you, you find that you rely on it more. You will start taking it for relaxation or for calming you. Sometimes, the abuse starts when the drug is prescribed for coping with anxiety or panic attacks and pain due to accidents or illnesses and others.


When the drug use turns to abuse, you start missing work or school, and your performance begins to deteriorate. You ignore family and social obligations and finally, you are so addicted that nothing else matters anymore.

Over time, complications develop, and you may have the following problems:

  • Flushed appearance
  • Dry mouth
  • Periods of dozing suddenly
  • Alternating between sleepiness and alertness
  • Heaviness in the limbs

These effects do not last for a long time, but the person who is suffering from the addiction needs the opiate again when the effect wears off.

When the user starts taking overdoses, the effects are:

  • Slow respiration
  • Infection in the lining and valve of heart
  • Skin abscesses
  • Congestion in the lungs
  • Lockjaw
  • Liver diseases
  • Serum hepatitis
  • Death

The opiate becomes most important in the addict’s life. His or her sleeping patterns start to change and the person may either stay awake or sleep for long periods. This depends on the drugs that the individual is using.

You should also become aware that something is wrong if valuable items disappear from your house with alarming regularity. Individuals who are addicted to drugs are not above stealing when they need drugs.

Warning Signs

The warning signs depend on the time of which the user has been using the opiate, how he is using it, the source of opiate, and how much he is taking. When the addict gets the opiate from a street peddler, it can be potentially dangerous. The opiate or opioid is mixed with other substances.

When the addict starts using the drug for medical reasons, then the dependency slowly increases. When he is unable to obtain the painkiller from proper chemist shop, he turns to other means like the street or the internet, which are not legal.

Treatment and Support

The good news is that opiate addiction can be treated. The procedure is long and the recovery period is even longer. There will be many setbacks, but with patience, the patient can get out of the habit and resume to a normal life.

The body becomes dependent on opiates when they have been used for a long time. It develops a chemical dependency. When the required drug is not taken, a person will experience discomfort. This leads to overuse of the drugs.

Addiction treatment programs aim to cut out this chemical dependency and restore the body’s normal programs.

More than the treatment, the addicted person needs family and social support. If you are addicted to opiates,  don’t try to deal with it alone. Seek the help of your family and friends. Approach a person whom you trust. When you are too far gone, self-help programs will not be enough for you.

During the treatment period, you can join forums and speak to other people who are recovering from addiction.

Prevent Relapse

It is entirely possible to have a relapse even after the treatment. In such a case, seek help immediately. Speak to the treating physician and your family members. As much as possible, avoid situations that lead to the addiction in the first place. Steer clear of your old drug group. Make new friends and if possible, start afresh in a new environment.

Teens And Drug Problems

An increasing number of teens are becoming opiate addicts. For parents, it is essential that they tread carefully in such a case. Don’t punish or threaten them as that will not resolve the issue. But, you don’t have to be a martyr either or try to appeal emotionally. That will only increase the problem.

Stop making excuses for the teen and let them take responsibility for their behavior. You can support them, but not shield them. Again, hiding the drugs or throwing them out will also not be of any help as the teen can get it again.


Instead, lay down certain rules and explain the consequences as clearly as you can. Prevent addiction by monitoring his activities and ensuring that he is always busy. Keep checking his bags and room without letting him know it. Potential hiding places include in-between books, DVD cases, makeup cases, and others.

What starts as a medication for relief from pain or a one time use can have disastrous consequences if immediate steps are not taken to curb it.  Learn more about opiates and treatment for addiction by calling our toll-free number today.

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