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What Science Tells Us About Addiction

May 17, 2016

Opiate addiction and misuse is a national issue that affects public health along with economic and social welfare. An estimated 1.9 million people in the U.S. suffered from addiction related to prescription opiates in 2014, along with another 586,000 who suffered from heroin addiction according to a 2014 national survey on drug use and health.

How Drugs Affect Your Body

Opiates like oxycodone, hydrocodone, and heroin work in similar fashions, by reducing the perception of pain, binding to the brain’s and other organs’ opioid receptors. When they bind to opioid receptors in certain regions in the brain, the drug produces a false sense of well-being. While binding in the deeper brain regions, this can result in drowsiness and respiratory depression, oftentimes leading to opiate overdose deaths.

Binding to receptors in other parts of the body are responsible for side effects like constipation and cardiac arrhythmias. In the early stages of use, the body’s own opioid chemicals mitigate the effects of the drug, but over time the body’s production decreases, which accounts for part of the discomfort during opiate detox.

With repeated use, the body will develop a tolerance to opiates, diminishing the desired effects. This often leads to the person taking higher doses to achieve the same effect, continuing the cycle of increasing tolerance.

The Dangers

Opiate addiction has become a public health epidemic, not only because of the dangers of fatalities caused by an opiate overdose, but also because of the rising numbers of newborns with neonatal abstinence syndrome because their mothers used drugs during pregnancy.

This can result in newborns suffering from withdrawal syndrome, and has increased by around 500% from 2000 to 2012. Part of this increase may be the result of the high rate of opioid prescriptions pregnant women receive; prescriptions were given to roughly 14.4% of pregnant women with private insurance and 21.6% of Medicaid enrolled pregnant between 2000 and 2007.

Along with opiate addiction and overdoses, there has been an increase in the transmission of infectious diseases such as HIV and HCV due to individuals sharing needles. The increased use of opiates also affects public safety. From 1999 to 2010, there was around a 600% increase in positive opioid tests among drivers who died in fatal accidents.

What Now?

Breaking free from opiate addiction isn’t easy, but you don’t need to do it alone. At Turning Point, we’re dedicated to providing the best care possible during your rehab process. If you’ve made the decision to seek help, contact our New Jersey drug and alcohol rehab center at (973) 380-0905 to begin the admissions process.

Opiate addiction and misuse is a national issue that affects public health along with economic and social welfare, but how do they affect your body?

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Categories: Opioids, Heroin

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