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How Pain Treatments Lead To Opioid Addiction


How Pain Treatments Lead To Opioid Addiction

Both acute and chronic pain can be debilitating and greatly decrease one’s quality of life. To help subdue intense pain, a doctor may prescribe opioids in some cases. Opioids serve as a strong pain medication that can help alleviate both acute pain (for example, after a broken bone or surgery) and chronic pain (for lasting medical conditions). While medications containing opioids are often effective for reducing pain, they can also cause the people who take them to become addicted. To learn more about how pain treatments lead to opioid addiction, continue reading.

Increased Tolerance

Medication containing opioids can often lead to opioid addiction when the user develops an increased tolerance to the drug over time. The longer someone takes a medication containing opioids, the more their body will acclimate to it and develop a tolerance.

As a tolerance to the opioids develops, the pain relief that the prescribed dosage previously offered may diminish. To achieve the pain-relieving benefits of the opioid medicine, the person will need to take a higher dosage of opioids.

When taken over a long period, doses will have to continuously get higher and higher, which can ultimately lead to an addiction. As such, it can be especially dangerous to use opioid medication to treat chronic pain over an extended period.

Developing a Dependency

The dependency that people often develop to opioid medication reveals how pain treatments lead to opioid addiction. Opioids alleviate pain by activating opioid receptors in the body, which relate to feelings of pain as well as pleasure.

Upon activating these receptors, the opioids block pain signals to the brain and release a large amount of dopamine, causing a “high.” The alleviation of pain, combined with the euphoric effect of opioids, serves as a strong positive reinforcement for taking the drug. Over time, taking opioids can cause the user to develop both a physical and mental dependency on the drug.

In addition to relying on the drug to alleviate their physical pain, a person may also develop a mental dependency on the “high” that the drug creates. The combination of both mental and physical dependency often makes opioids incredibly challenging to stop taking over time.

If you or someone you know has developed an opioid addiction as a result of prescribed pain treatments, it is important to take action. Opioid addiction is extremely dangerous and results in over 100 thousand overdose deaths every day. At the Sundance Methadone Treatment Center, we offer a variety of opioid treatment services to help our patients recover from life-threatening addictions. To learn more about the treatment opinions that we offer, contact us today.

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