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Opioid Effect on Behavior
Can Opioid Dependence Affect Behavior?
The need to satisfy cravings or avoid withdrawal can be so intense that people who want to stop taking opioids find this difficult to do. Or, they may find themselves doing things they wouldn’t ordinarily do in order to obtain more of the drug they crave. For this reason, even though opiate addiction is a medical condition rather than a moral failing, it can drive behavior.
How Common Is Opioid Dependence?
Opiate addiction is more common than you may think. You are not alone, no matter what your age, your gender, your race, or income level no one group of people is immune to opioid dependence.
How Common Is Misuse of Prescription Pain Medications?
According to the 2003 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH):
- 4.7 million people ages 12 and older were misusing pain relievers in 2003
- By 2003, 31.2 million people ages 12 and older had used pain relievers nonmedically in their lifetime
- In 2001 alone, almost 2.5 million people used pain relievers nonmedically for the first time. This is a dramatic 335% increase from 573,000 new users in 1990.
How Common Is Heroin Use?
In 2002, more than 400,000 people ages 12 and over reported using heroin in the previous year. An estimated 3.7 million people reported having used heroin at some time in their lives. Recently, inexpensive, high-purity heroin has become more available. Rather than injecting, many new users are smoking or snorting heroin, with the misperception that these routes are less addictive. In addition, use among younger adults is growing in many suburban communities.
Why Are Some People More Likely to Become Dependent?
Substances such as opioids that produce euphoria are considered to have high reinforcement potential, which increases the likelihood that they will be taken repeatedly or abused, although a majority of people who take these powerfully reinforcing drugs do not become dependent on them. Although the specific causes vary from person to person, certain factors, such as the drug itself, genetics, and the individual’s environment, are known to be important in the development of opioid dependence. Some people appear to be genetically predisposed to dependence, raising the possibility that susceptibility to the disease may be hereditary. Also, individual absorption levels of the drug into the blood can vary widely for different people, thus causing different effects. Lastly, substance abuse, which can lead to dependence, is often influenced by societal norms and peer pressure.
Why Do Prescription Pain Medications Result in Dependence in Some People?
Even when used properly, medications prescribed for acute, chronic, or postoperative pain can cause symptoms of tolerance and withdrawal, which can stimulate you to want to take more, setting up the cycle of craving. Tolerance means that you need more of the drug to get the same pain relief. Just because you have developed tolerance for a drug does not mean that you are dependent on it or are abusing it. Physical dependence is typically associated with tolerance, and also with withdrawal, an adverse physiological effect that occurs when blood/tissue concentrations of a drug decline. Symptoms of withdrawal include extreme nausea, generalized pain, sweating, headache, irritability, and shaking. Psychological dependence involves continued drug use for reasons other than tolerance and withdrawal, such as to experience a drug’s pleasurable effects. People with a clinical need for pain relief should not be transferred to Suboxone. Suboxone is not indicated for the treatment of pain.
At Pat Moore Foundation Subutex and Suboxone treatments occur in a safe and comfortable setting that we consider an important aspect for the cl