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Opioid (Painkiller) Addiction

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What are Opioids and How Are They Used?

Opioid Analgesics And Alternative Treatments For Pain Relievers | Turning Point of Tampa

Naturally derived from the opium poppy plant, opioids are a class of drugs that are used mainly for chronic pain related to medical conditions that require the control of pain.

There are prescription opioids that are used to help pain control and to reduce pain.

The illegal aspect of opioids is around substance abuse and heroin use, which occurs with the mixture of other medications with opioids that can lead to an opioid use disorder.

The Opioid Epidemic

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) states “The misuse of prescription opioids and use of heroin is one of the most significant public health issues in the United States. Opioid abuse claims more lives than motor vehicle crashes.”

It seems so simple to follow a doctor’s instructions carefully when taking opioids. However, overdose deaths are growing and a prescription opioid is needed for severe pain.

Prescription Opioids and Severe Pain

Prescription opioids are typically prescribed by family physicians or a pain management specialist to treat moderate to severe pain and pain that is unbearable. Prescription opioids are most often associated with surgical procedures, spinal cord injuries, cancer treatments, back pain, fibromyalgia, and migraines.

The Effects of Opioids

Opioids have both mental and physiological effects that can be both pain-relieving and harmful. When opioids enter the bloodstream, they bind with opioid receptors in the brain, causing a temporary reduction in pain and an increase in the neurotransmitter dopamine, a “feel good” chemical that encourages individuals to continue consuming the drug.

How Opioids Affect the Brain and Body

Because opioids also slow the brain and body, side effects such as constipation, vomiting, nausea, dizziness, drowsiness, and confusion are possible. When taken recreationally or when misused, opioids can also lead to unconsciousness, respiratory depression and slowed breathing, an increased risk of heart attack, coma, and death.

Can Using Prescription Opioids Lead to Abuse?

Yes, using prescribed opioids can still lead to opioid misuse and drug abuse. In recent years, concern over the addictive properties of opioids has led doctors to issue limited-use prescriptions and more closely monitor the use of painkillers. Nonetheless, if you or a loved one are currently using opioids for medical purposes, it is critical to speak with your doctor if you show any signs of dependence.

Chronic Pain, Opioid Misuse and Drug Abuse

Chronic pain is horrible and to control pain opiates are used. Fantom pain, and opioid pain are part of the risk a doctor explains to patients before oxycodone, hydrocodone, or fentanyl are prescribed.

It is possible to treat opioid misuse, however, separating the misuse from drug abuse takes a skilled doctor and health care team. Individuals who use opioid drugs outside the prescribed dose or purposely do not follow the orders from their doctor, could be facing addiction.

Opioid Addiction Treatment at Turning Point of Tampa

Turning Point of Tampa is a drug and alcohol treatment center. We recognize and treat opiate addiction. We believe treatment based on the 12-Step philosophy leads a person to a life that is productive and meaningful.

Symptoms of Opioid Addiction

Signs and symptoms of opioid addiction:

  • Usage increase over time
  • Change in personality
  • Shifts in energy, mood or concentration
  • Social withdrawal (withdrawing from family and/or friends)
  • Continued use of painkillers after the medical condition has improved
  • “Doctor shopping” to obtain prescriptions
  • Change in daily habits and appearance
  • Constant cough, running nose, red/glazed eyes, irregular sleep
  • Neglect of responsibilities (chores, finances, work)
  • Increased sensitivity to normal sights, sounds, emotions, etc.
  • Forgetfulness and/or blackouts
  • Defensiveness, irritability in response to questions/comments about use

Long-term Effects of Opioid Use

Because opioids interact with the brain’s chemical receptors to manage pain, they can also produce short-term feelings of pleasure, a sense of calm, or an out-of-body sensation. Opioids have a strong effect on the brain and repeated use can quickly lead to addiction.

Unfortunately, long-term use of opioids can also lead to lasting and impactful health risks, both neurological and physiological. These include:

  • Sleepiness and lack of concentration
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Lack of judgment leading to risky behavior
  • Risk of HIV and hepatitis from injectable drugs
  • Impacted immune system
  • Dependence in newborns if the mother uses opioids during pregnancy
  • Hypoxia (lack of oxygen to the brain due to lowered breathing rate)
  • Increased risk of additional drug use, especially heroin

Risks Posed from Taking Opioids

Long-term opioid use also poses risks to loved ones, family members, and personal and professional relationships. As opioid abuse progresses, individuals are willing to risk severe consequences to continue their drug use.

If you suspect a loved one may be struggling with opioid addiction, Turning Point of Tampa is available to help your loved one find the help they need.

Withdrawal from Opioids

When an individual who has taken opioid drugs on a regular basis stops taking them—either because they no longer have access to the drug, or they are trying to stop using—they will likely go through withdrawal.

This period of time takes place when the brain and body readjust to the lack of opioids in the bloodstream and can often include flu-like symptoms, exhaustion, and intestinal complications.

Some of the most common withdrawal symptoms that can appear with the decreased use the absence of the drug include restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, confusion, diarrhea, vomiting, and cold flashes.

Though withdrawal is uncomfortable, with proper oversight from a medical or addiction treatment professional, most individuals are able to go through the process safely.

Risk of Opioid Overdose

Because opioids are highly addictive, it is all too easy for individuals to accidentally take too much of the drug. In this case, they are at risk for an overdose, in which the body’s major organs, including the heart, lungs, and brain, stop functioning.

Signs and symptoms of an opioid overdose include:

  • Confusion and difficulty speaking
  • Lack of energy or exhaustion
  • Slowed or stopped breathing
  • Unconsciousness

It is critical that anyone who witnesses the telltale signs of an overdose call 911 immediately. Many emergency medical crews now carry the drug naloxone that can reverse opioid overdoses if administered quickly.

Finding Help for Opioid Addiction

If you or a loved one are concerned about opioid misuse and any type of narcotic pain medications that could cause addiction, please contact Turning Point of Tampa. We have over 35 years of experience helping people find recovery. We look forward to assisting.

Mental Health Services | Turning Point of Tampa


Depressants are drugs that reduce the activity of the central nervous system. They can be used medically to help with anxiety, trouble sleeping, and depression. There are many different types of depressants including benzodiazepines (Xanax), barbiturates (Phenobarbital), alcohol, opiates (opium), narcotics (morphine), and muscle relaxers.

Mental Health Services Administration And Drug Enforcement Administration For Opioid Use Disorder | Turning Point of Tampa


Hydrocodone is a narcotic pain reliever. It is used to treat moderate to severe pain. Hydrocodone can be taken by mouth, injected into a muscle, or injected into a vein. It may also be used for other purposes not listed in this medication guide. It is an opioid and considered highly addictive.

Center For Disease Control | Turning Point of Tampa


Hallucinogens are drugs that cause hallucinations. These can include LSD, marijuana, peyote, and psilocybin mushrooms. They are often used to induce a sense of spiritual enlightenment or transcendence and can produce intense changes in mood and sensory perceptions.

Health And Human Services For Substance Abuse And Opioid Abuse | Turning Point of Tampa


Morphine is a non-synthetic narcotic derived from opium. Morphine is used for the treatment of pain. Continued use of morphine results in a tolerance to the drug. Morphine can cause a physical and psychological dependence.

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