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Understanding the Opioid Epidemic

Person researching the opioid epidemic on their phone

The opioid epidemic in America continues to accelerate. From 2019 to 2020, the number of opioid-related drug overdose deaths increased by almost 30%, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Opioids include legal prescription medications and illicit street drugs. If you’d like more information about opioid addiction or need the support of an opioid addiction treatment center, contact Northpoint Omaha today at 888.687.8014. We can help you understand the opioid epidemic and how it is possibly affecting you and your family.

What Are Opioids?

Opioids are drugs made from opium-producing poppy plants. Some opioids, such as fentanyl, can also be produced synthetically. This category of drugs includes:

  • Oxycodone (generic for OxyContin)
  • Morphine
  • Codeine
  • Demerol
  • Dilaudid
  • Methadone
  • Heroin

The CDC estimates that one-fifth of patients who see a doctor about pain that is not related to cancer receive a prescription for an opioid medication.

The Dangers of Opioids

Taking opioids in any form, illegal or prescribed, puts you at risk for several unwanted side effects. When taken as prescribed, opioids can be helpful for short-term pain management, but even short-term use can lead to addiction. In addition to addiction, some of the most serious health risks of opioid use include the following:

  • Respiratory depression
  • Hypoxia
  • Seizure
  • Physical dependence (the body is no longer able to produce natural pain-relieving hormones)
  • Pain sensitivity
  • Heart failure
  • Depression
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Pregnancy risks

Death by accidental overdose is the most serious risk of opioid use. When someone quits using opioids, they go through a withdrawal process, including severe cravings for the drug.

Once the body has detoxed, it can no longer process the same amount of opioids as before the withdrawal. Ingesting too much of the drug at one time or ingesting opioids stronger than the person realizes (as with fentanyl) causes a fatal overdose. Some forms of fentanyl are 50 to 100 times stronger than heroin.

Doctor Shopping and Other Symptoms of Opioid Addiction

It is always challenging to confront a loved one about possible addiction issues. It’s even more difficult if they show signs of addiction to prescribed medication, such as OxyContin. Before you talk about your concerns, you must know the signs of addiction.

Signs of opioid abuse include:

  • Constant drowsiness
  • Lack of hygiene
  • Dizziness
  • Financial difficulties
  • Changes in sleep habits (sleeping too much or not enough)
  • Changes in appetite/weight fluctuations
  • Uncontrollable cravings for opioids
  • Decreased sexual libido
  • Isolating themselves from friends and family members
  • Doctor shopping, finding different doctors who will prescribe more opioids
  • Frequently “losing” their medication or accusing others of stealing it

If you suspect that you or a loved one is struggling with opioid addiction, seek help immediately. Contact your doctor or an addiction treatment specialist.

Treating Opioid Addiction

Opioid rehab is available in many forms, including partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient programs. Patients struggling with additional mental or physical health challenges may need the extra support of dual-diagnosis treatment.

A vigorous aftercare program provides the extra resources and sober support network patients need once they have completed treatment.

Therapies used during opioid rehab may include:

  • Medically-assisted detox
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • 12-Step programs
  • Individual therapy
  • Family therapy

No matter what stage of addiction you are in, or even if you have tried treatment before, opioid addiction treatment can help you break free from the destructive cycle of addiction.

Fight the Opioid Epidemic at Northpoint Omaha

At Northpoint Omaha, we understand how serious the opioid epidemic is and the dangers it poses to our community. You can recover from addiction and avoid the long-term physical and psychological harm caused by opioids. If you or a loved one could benefit from compassionate addiction treatment, use our online form or call us at Northpoint Omaha today at 888.687.8014. A brighter future is possible.