Opioid Addiction to Pain Medication

Opioid addiction is now at epidemic proportions in America. It often starts with a prescription for pain medication. The epidemic is now in New Orleans, and that is just too close to my doorstep for comfort. Don’t think opioids or opiates can’t affect your life because they can. At any moment, you or someone you know could feel the sting of an opioid addiction. Every day opioid dependency affects someone. It doesn’t take long for opioids to make a person’s life chaotic or even kill an individual. Opioids are dangerous, and we must treat them as though they are.

Opioid Addiction Hurts

Opioid addiction does not always begin with people wanting to get high. When people experience pain they purchase over-the-counter medication to help them cope. When over-the-counter medicines do not give sufficient relief people go to a doctor to prescribe medication for them. Often doctors prescribe Opioid based medication for these patients. Addiction happens when the patient does not follow the doctor’s instructions for taking pain meds or they have been taking them for a very long time. Patients who have taken opioid-base or opiate -base meds for a long time become dependent on them.

Pain Medication Can Be Addictive

People say what you don’t know can’ hurt you. But with Opioid meds what you don’t know can kill you. Education is key to understanding Opioid addiction. A good place to start is defining the difference between Opiates and Opioids.

Although the two drugs react in a similar fashion, they are quite different. Opiates and Opioids react to pain in a similar fashion. They do not make the pain go away, they just alter the way a person perceives it. They attach onto molecules that protrude from certain nerve cells in the brain called opioid receptors. Once attached, nerve cells send messages to the brain that are inaccurate measures of the severity of pain that the person is experiencing. Thus that person experiences the sensation of less pain. Opiates are natural, whereas Opioids are synthesized.


Natural alkaloids derived from the opium poppy are called Opiates. Opium is a strong pain-relieving medication. A number of drugs are made from opium. Some of the more commonly known opiates are Morphine, Codeine, Oripavine, Thebaine, Heroin, and Opium.


Opioids are a synthetic or partly-synthetic drug. They may act like opiates because they have similar molecules. Types of Opioids include Methadone, Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, Pethidine, Hydromorphone, and Fentanyl.

There are different types of Opioids. There are illegal opioids (like heroin) and there are legal opioids (like hydrocodone, the brand name Vicodin). One of the reasons painkillers like Vicodin are abused is that they also make the user high while relieving pain.

What You Can Do To Help

Opioid and Opiate addiction begin with a need to eliminate pain. That pain can be physical or mental, either way, it hurts. If you know someone who has an Opioid or Opiate addiction and you would like to help, here are a few tips:

Don’t attack

One sure way to discourage someone from seeking help for their addiction is to attack them before you know the facts. Tell them that you think something is wrong and you just want them to check it out. Be open to receiving their response with understanding.


When you are convinced that you know for certain of an opioid or opiate addiction problem confront the person. Be conscious of your tone when you speak. Don’t express anger or resentment. Be kind and open and show concern throughout the conversation.

Find help

Help comes in many forms. Some people prefer conventional drug rehabilitation to faith-based drug rehabilitation programs. Remember that the object of your effort is to help someone overcome Opioid or Opiate addiction.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), a federal agency in the Department of Health and Human Services has a national helpline at (800) 662-HELP (4357). It’s confidential, free, available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and offers help in English and Spanish for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. The service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations. Callers can also order free publications and other information.

For those who prefer faith-based drug rehabilitation, don’t lose hope, God is a real option. Recovery with God lasts forever. Faith heals the sick, opens blind eyes, and make the lame walk. Surely your faith in God can make you whole once again.

believing faith speaksEric Dunbar is the Author of Believing Faith Speaks and Editor of ERICDUNBAR.COM | Books

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