Before entering rehab, family and friends may ask the patient, “What are opioids?” For someone not familiar with drugs and addictions, this is a normal question to have. This type of drug includes legal and illegal chemicals that change how the mind works. Even when they are used according to a prescription, they can still be addictive.
What Are Opioids?
There are two basic answers to “What are opioids?” While both types of opioids cause changes to the brain, one class of opioids is sold on the street. Doctors prescribe the other type. Many patients may be familiar with powerful pain relievers like hydrocodone, morphine, oxycodone and codeine. Prescribed by a doctor, these types are legally given to treat pain.
Street drugs like heroin are also considered opioids. Like prescription pain relievers, they interact with the opioid receptors in the brain. Over time, they can change the wiring in the brain. Regular use of any opioids can lead to dependence. Even when the opioids are prescribed by a doctor, they can become addictive.
How an Addiction Starts
An opioid addiction often starts after the patient was given a prescription for opioids. They may have needed pain killers after a surgery or because of a chronic medical condition. Before long, these drugs can lead to an addiction.
Some individuals switch to drugs like heroin because painkillers are no longer available. The doctor may stop prescribing painkillers, or the prescription drugs become too expensive. The individual may seek out street drugs to fuel the addiction instead.
What Are Opioids – Types of Opioids and Treatment Options
Other than prescription painkillers, there are several types of opioids that are commonly sold on the streets. Heroin is one of the most common opioids, and it is often used after someone develops a prescription drug addiction. In recent years, fentanyl citrate has become a growing problem. While it is available through a prescription, fentanyl is often mixed with street drugs like heroin to create a better high.
Any type of opioid can cause an addiction. If someone suffers from an addiction, help is available. A drug treatment center can offer support through programs such as:
- Group therapy and individual counseling
- Relapse prevention techniques
- Treating co-occurring disorders with dual diagnosis treatment
- 12-step program exploration
- Drug Addiction Education
- Medical supervision and support
- Collaborative outpatient programs
If you or a loved one suffers from an addiction, help is available. At Steps to Recovery, you can get the customized, compassionate care you need to recover. To find out more about our flexible program options, call Steps to Recovery today at 866.488.8684.