Opioids are a powerful family of medications used as part of pain management programs. From major surgeries to alleviate the pain from major diseases such as cancer, opioids are an effective tool in helping patients tolerate pain and promote healing. While these medications are effective, they are also highly addictive. Even when prescribed and monitored under close medical supervision, people can become addicted to opioids—and the results can be catastrophic to their health and quality of life.
When you become addicted to opioids, you must find immediate professional treatment. This article further explores what opioids are and their effects on the body. Most importantly, you will learn where you can find outpatient treatment for opioids in Los Angeles.
What are Opioids?
Opioids are a group of synthetic and semi-synthetic medications that doctors commonly prescribe to treat moderate to severe pain. Opioid drugs are specifically designed to attach to specific receptors in the brain and body called opioid receptors. These receptors are most commonly found in the brain but are also located in the stomach as well as the spinal cord. When taken, opioids bind to these receptors and block pain messages from transmitting through the body. As a result, people feel a profound sense of relaxation, calm, and even euphoria.
As stated in the introduction, opioid drugs are powerful, and people can easily become dependent and even addicted to these medications. Worse yet, the potency of opioids can easily cause an overdose and even death. According to data from the CDC, opioids were involved in nearly half of all overdose deaths in 2019. It is also estimated that 90 Americans die each day due to opioid abuse. Additionally, 80 percent of heroin users first started using prescription painkillers before switching over to heroin.
Which Drugs are Opioids?
Common opioid drugs that are prescribed by doctors include the following:
Often, drugs such as heroin and morphine are lumped into the opioid family of drugs. Technically, these drugs are considered opiates because they are manufactured from the fibers and sap of the poppy plant and are not created in a laboratory, like opioids. However, heroin and morphine are considered part of the opioid family because they produce the same effects.
Because opioid drugs are created in a laboratory and commonly prescribed by doctors, there are those who feel opioids are “safe.” In reality, opioid drugs are extremely potent. For example, fentanyl is up to one hundred times more potent than morphine and fifty times more potent than heroin. Disturbingly, fentanyl is often used as a cutting agent in heroin to increase potency and maximize profits. As a result, there was a dramatic surge in heroin overdose deaths.
How Do Opioids Impact the Body?
As already stated, opioid medications attach to opioid receptors in the brain, and it releases enormous amounts of dopamine. Dopamine is the brain’s natural “feel good” chemical, and people will feel pleasure and not feel pain throughout their body. This release of dopamine can be extremely reinforcing, and it can lead people to taking more significant quantities of these drugs.
While opioids produce feelings of pleasure in the short-term, there are negative side effects. These include the following:
Another negative side effect caused by opioids is a condition called hypoxia. Hypoxia is a condition where the brain is starved of oxygen. When this occurs, people can slip into a coma and can die from the condition. If opioids are injected, people can run the risk of contracting Hepatitis B, C, and HIV from dirty needles.
How to Find Outpatient Treatment for Opioids
If you find yourself struggling with opioid addiction, finding professional help is crucial in addressing and overcoming your addiction. While inpatient treatment may be most beneficial, you may not be able to commit to considerable time away from work and family. Fortunately, opioid outpatient programs are available and most treatment centers. An outpatient opioid treatment program offers evidence-based programs and services, but you are allowed to return home after your treatment session. If you need outpatient treatment for opioids in Southern California, MCR should be your first choice.
MCR offers Los Angeles intensive outpatient, traditional outpatient, and partial day programs that fit your schedule yet provide the quality programs and services you need to break the vicious cycle of opioid dependence and addiction. We offer an innovative, dynamic, and individualized approach to outpatient opioid treatment that gives you the tools and support that empowers you to transform your life and experience long-term recovery.