A: Opioids are a class of drug derived from the opium poppy.
A: Opioids are used in order to treat pain, usually moderate to
severe pain. They are stronger than over the counter remedies
such as aspirin and acetaminophen (Tylenol).
A: Opioid addiction is a physical and mental addiction to opioid
A: Opium is highly addictive.
Potent drugs derived from opium include heroin and morphine.
Opioids have a number of effects
that can make them addictive:
• They affect the way the brain perceives pain
• They release chemicals in the brain such as dopamine,
which gives a pleasurable sensation
• The pleasurable sensation triggers a “reward” response,
so the brain and body start to crave additional rewards
• They alter the synapses in the brain, which are
responsible for signaling from one brain and nerve cell to
the next. This can lead to the brain getting “re-wired” and
starting to crave the drug
A: Studies have shown that the remodeling of the brain can
cause a person to become addicted in as little as 3 days.
A: Opioid withdrawal is the process by which a person tries to
free themselves from their addiction to opioids.
A: The risks of addiction to opioids are similar to addiction to
any other type of drug. There is risk of overdose, and
dangerous interactions with alcohol, and other medications,
which can lead to death.
Drug addiction can cause significant problems in an addict’s
personal and professional lives, including:
• Money problems
• Health problems
• Career or school problems, mainly due to failing to meet
• Relationship issues
• Behavioral changes and problems
• Legal problems if they are taking illicit drugs and/or
resorting to criminal activities in order to feed their
addiction with a steady supply of opioids
A: Everyone responds to medications differently, so what might
be a mild dose or opioids for one person could lead to addiction
A: Yes. A higher risk has been noted in these groups:
• “Weekend warriors”
The main reasons these groups are susceptible can be due to
injury. With teens, they will also often abuse cough medicine,
which often contains opioids in order to suppress the center of
the brain that triggers coughing.
With women and seniors, they tends to have long-term chronic
pain as a result of illness and aging, such as through migraine,
back pain, and all forms of arthritis. The longer a person is on
the drug, the greater the risk of dependency, and eventually
A: The difference between drug dependence and drug addiction
is that in the case of dependence, such as in those who suffer
chronic pain, the body will develop physical dependence on the
drug. It will become accustomed to the medication and need it
to function without pain. It might develop a tolerance to the
medication, however, and need more and more, potentially
leading to addiction.
The term addiction is used when the medication appears to be
interfering with the individual's normal daily life in some way.
The person’s use of the drug is compulsive and out of control.
They will continue to use it in spite of obvious dangers, such as
not being able to function, accidents, non-fatal overdoses, and
A: There are a number of common signs and symptoms. They
• Trouble with their speech
• Difficulty with physical coordination
• Constricted pupils the size of pinprick
• Changes in physical appearance
• Poor personal hygiene and a lack of proper self-care
• unusual smells on breath, body, or clothing
• changes in appetite
• sudden weight loss or weight gain
• changes in sleep patterns, such as insomnia
• sudden changes in mood
• a loss of disinterest in activities they used to love
• a lack of motivation at work or school
• withdrawal from relationships
• more conflict within relationships
• money problems
• secretive behavior
• a lack of full grasp of reality-becoming paranoid or
A: Yes, there are several. A combined approach usually has the
best chance of success.
A: Treatment will vary for each person depending on the type
of drug/s being used, the dosage, how long they have been
taking them, and what their personal situation is due to their
addiction. Some will be treated at an in-patient recovery and
rehabilitation center. Others will be treated on an out-patient
basis. At Opi Help we conduct an inpatient appointment and
assess the situation to find the best solution going forward.
A: Just stopping, commonly referred to as “going cold turkey,”
is possible, but can be very unpleasant, and as a result, often
unsuccessful. This is due to physical withdrawal from the
A: Withdrawal from opioids will usually manifest with severe
flu-like symptoms which can last for several days to weeks.
A: There are several other reported symptoms, particularly if a
person tried to go cold turkey. They include:
• Muscle aches
• Bone pain
• Cold sweats and shivering
• Nausea and vomiting
• Restlessness, often in the legs
• Difficulty sleeping
A: Detoxification is the process of allowing the body to rid itself
of toxins, including drugs a person is addicted to. In the
process of detox for opioids, the withdrawal from the drug will
be part of the process, but is often only the first step in the
path to freedom from addiction.
A: It depends on the individual and length and severity of their
addiction. Three months to a year is typical.