Opioid Treatment: Navigating Opioid Addiction, Effects, and Recovery

Opioid addiction has emerged as a pressing concern, particularly among young adults. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), approximately 1 in 18 young adults misuse opioids. Opioid-related misuse in teens and young adults was also directly associated with sexual risk behaviors.

Early intervention and effective treatment play a pivotal role in addressing drug or alcohol. In this article, we delve into the world of opioid addiction, treatment options, and recovery.

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Opioid addiction has become a significant concern in recent years, affecting countless lives and communities worldwide. Opioids are a class of powerful pain-relieving substances that are derived from the opium poppy plant.

They can be natural, semi-synthetic or fully synthetic. Opioids are commonly used for medical purposes to manage severe pain, such as after surgery, or for chronic pain conditions like cancer. They work by binding to specific receptors in the brain and body to reduce the perception of pain and induce feelings of relaxation and euphoria.

Common Opioid Drug List

Opioids are used to treat a variety of medical conditions, including moderate to severe pain, chronic pain, cough, and diarrhea. They are also used to treat opioid addiction. Several types of prescription opioids include:

  • Codeine
  • Fentanyl
  • Hydrocodone
  • Hydromorphone
  • Morphine
  • Oxycodone
  • Oxymorphone
  • Tramadol

Opioid Addiction in Young Adults

Opioid abuse among youth can be influenced by various factors. Peer pressure and social influences, along with mental health challenges and traumatic experiences, can push young individuals toward opioid misuse.

Opioid abuse has been considered a national health crisis in the United States, as almost 50,000 people die from opioid overdose every year. However, teenagers are using opioids less now than they used to, perhaps because of more targeted educational campaigns.

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What is the Difference Between Opiates and Opioids?

The terms “opiates” and “opioids” are often used interchangeably, but they actually have slightly different meanings.


Opiates refer specifically to substances naturally derived from the opium poppy plant. They include compounds such as morphine and codeine. Opiates are natural products and have been used for centuries for their pain-relieving properties.


Opioids, on the other hand, are a broader category that refers to any drug that binds to opioid receptors in the brain. Opioids include not only naturally derived substances like morphine and codeine but also synthetic opioids like fentanyl and semi-synthetic opioids like oxycodone and hydrocodone.

Why are Opioids so addictive?

Opioids are highly addictive due to their impact on the brain’s reward system. These drugs bind to opioid receptors, triggering the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure. This euphoric sensation becomes closely linked to opioid use, driving individuals to seek more of the substance to replicate the feeling. As a result, the brain becomes wired to crave opioids, leading to a cycle of addiction that is challenging to break.

Signs and Symptoms of Opioid Abuse

Opioid addiction is a serious medical condition that can have devastating consequences, including overdose and death. If you are concerned that you or someone you know may be struggling with opioid addiction, it is important to seek help as soon as possible.

Physical Symptoms

  • Constricted pupils
  • Drowsiness
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Flu-like symptoms

Behavioral Symptoms

  • Mood swings or irritability
  • Social isolation from friends or family members
  • Decline in work or academic performance
  • Stealing money or medication
  • Change in eating or sleeping habits

Short Term Effects of Opioids

Short-term effects of opioid use include pain relief, drowsiness, and a sense of relaxation. However, these effects are often accompanied by dizziness, nausea, and confusion. Over time, the repeated use of opioids can lead to more severe consequences and chronic diseases.

Long-Term Effects of Opioids

Long-term effects may include respiratory issues, gastrointestinal problems, and impaired cognitive function. Additionally, opioids can pave the way to addiction, impacting social relationships, academic pursuits, and overall quality of life.

In some cases, opioid use can lead to an overdose, which requires immediate medical attention. Signs of opioid overdose include slowed or irregular breathing, extreme drowsiness, loss of consciousness, and unresponsiveness. Naloxone (Narcan) is a medication that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose and should be administered promptly.

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The duration of withdrawal varies depending on factors such as the type of opioid and the individual’s history of use. It typically lasts around one week, with the peak of discomfort occurring within the first few days.

Short-Acting Opioids

Symptoms can be observed within the first 6-12 hours, peak within 1-3 days, and continue up to 7 days.

Long-Acting Opioids

Symptoms can be observed within 36 hours and continue for up to 14 days or more.

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Medical detoxification is often the first step in opioid addiction treatment. This process involves supervised withdrawal under medical care, with the use of medications to alleviate withdrawal symptoms and cravings. While detoxification addresses the physical dependence on opioids, it is just the beginning of the recovery journey to remain sober.

Opioid Withdrawal Medications

Because of high relapse rates, Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) has emerged as a vital approach to addressing opioid addiction and supporting individuals on their path to recovery. MAT involves the use of medications, in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies, to provide comprehensive and effective opioid treatment programs.

MAT utilizes several medications that have been approved by medical authorities to aid in opioid addiction treatment, namely:

  • Methadone
  • Buprenorphine
  • Naltrexone

How long does it take to detox from opioids?

The time it takes to detox from opioids can vary depending on the type of opioid used, the amount used, and the length of time the person has been using opioids. However, in general, it can take anywhere from 3 to 10 days to detox from opioids.

Opioid addiction can have a profound impact on every aspect of your life, from your relationships and academic pursuits to your physical and mental well-being. Early intervention can significantly enhance opioid rehab success rates. It takes strength to confront the issue head-on and make the decision to seek help for opioid use disorder.

Our team at HART is dedicated to providing a supportive and compassionate environment where you can embark on your journey to recovery with confidence. HART understands the challenges that young individuals face when dealing with substance use disorders. Our team of experienced professionals is trained to address the physical, emotional, and psychological aspects of opioid addiction and provide support groups for healing.

Embrace the journey ahead, and let HART be your guiding light toward a healthier, happier, and more fulfilling life.

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