Addiction is complicated. Many feel that someone addicted to drugs or alcohol should just quit — that it’s only a matter of will power. In reality, addiction is a chronic medical disease that affects the brain. It is not a choice.
Addiction involves complex interactions among brain circuits, genetics, the environment, and life experiences. People with addiction use substances or engage in behaviors that become compulsive, and often continue despite harmful consequences.
Understanding Opioid Addiction
Opioids are a family of drugs, such as heroin and morphine, that are made from opium poppies. They can also be human-made, such as oxycodone (Percocet, OxyContin), hydrocodone (Vicodin, Norco), or fentanyl.
About 80% of heroin users began by misusing prescription opioids.
In a medical setting, opioids are meant to be used for the treatment of acute (short-term) pain. They may be prescribed for a sports injury, dental work, or severe back pain. Dependence on the drug can develop in days, due to intense cravings and the risk of going into withdrawal.
Addiction Neuroscience 101
About Opioid Use Disorder
A person addicted to opioids may be diagnosed with opioid use disorder (OUD). OUD affects people of all ages, races and economic status. If you have close family members who have suffered from addiction, have experienced psychological trauma, have untreated psychiatric disorders, or have social or family environments that encourage misuse, your risk is higher.
Do You Struggle with Opioid Use Disorder?
- Are you using more opioids than you want to?
- Is it hard to cut down or control your opioid use?
- Do you crave opioids?
- Has your opioid use caused problems in your relationships with others, or other parts of life, like work, school, or home?
- Are you developing a tolerance (feeling less effect from the drug)?
- Have you tried to stop using opioids without success?
If you answered yes to any of the questions above, you may have an opioid addiction, and Medication Assisted Treatment can help! There’s no shame in getting the help you need.
Frequently Asked Questions About Opioid Addiction
How do opioids affect the brain?
Opioids, like all addictive drugs, change how your brain is wired. Often, a person will need higher and higher doses to get the same effect over time. This is called tolerance. Without the drug, a person will go into withdrawal, which is often described by those who have experienced it as “the worst flu” they have ever had. The life of someone addicted to opioids becomes taken over by cravings, and trying to avoid withdrawal.
How do I know if a person is addicted?
A good way to know if someone is addicted is if they continue to use drugs even though they may try not to, and/or it causes negative consequences for them. For example, job loss, financial difficulties, dropping out of school, trouble with the law, loss of important relationships, and health problems.
Can people take opioids and not become addicted?
Is addiction treatable?
The initial decision to take drugs is voluntary for most people, but can lead to brain changes that challenge a person’s self-control and interfere with their ability to resist intense cravings to take drugs. The good news is that there is treatment available locally that is very effective.
Start Your Recovery Today
Do you or someone you love need help?
Learn about treatment options, recovery services, information for families, and suicide prevention.
We have 16 providers in Siskiyou county who are trained in Medication Assisted Treatment.