Why Are Opioids So Addictive?

Opioids are an addictive prescription drugAs the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) states, there are several drugs that fall into the class of synthetic opioids, such as: heroin, fentanyl, oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine and others. Some opioids are prescribed for injuries or other health-related concerns but are monitored by a physician. Others, like heroin, are illegal – but still, many find their way into opioid addiction. The opioid epidemic has taken so many lives due to overdose and it’s safe to say that even those not addicted are still impacted. Friends, family members, children and more all experience the pain that opioid addiction brings about. What makes them so addictive?

Opioids bind to and activate opioid receptors on cells that are located in the brain. Harvard University emphasizes that when opioids lock onto a cell, they affect the way we think, feel and control our bodies. The messages that our cells send one another become altered, which is also how our signals of pain often become muted when opioids are taken. We naturally have opioid receptors in our brain and these are involved in monitoring our stress responses, mood, learning, memory and more. As humans, we’ve created opioids that closely resemble the “code” that our natural opioid receptors have, so they work similarly in blocking pain. The problem is that since they’re substances, they do create addictive effects.

Alongside feeling free from pain, many people experience a sense of euphoria. What may start as one simple attempt to treat back pain could become a dependency if a person becomes too attached to the effects that opioids can provide.

According to the New York Times in 2017, over 2 million Americans are estimated to have a problem with opioids. Many of these drugs either started as prescription medication and were not taken as the doctor recommended or were sought out and retrieved from a friend or family member. If you are struggling with opioid addiction, it’s time to seek the help you need – today. Addiction does not define you and recovery is possible.

Cumberland Heights is a nonprofit alcohol and drug-addiction treatment center located on the banks of the Cumberland river in Nashville, Tennessee. On a sprawling 177-acre campus, we are made up of 2 12-Step immersion campuses, 12 outpatient recovery centers and 4 sober living homes. We believe that each person has a unique story to tell – and that’s why we always put the patient first.

Call us today at 1-800-646-9998 to take the next step towards your happiness and health.