In the United States today, prescription drug abuse represents one of the most commonly treated conditions at the best drug rehabilitation centers in the country.
Due to high availability and a considerably high potential for addiction, prescription drugs stand among the most frequently abused substances.
In particular, prescription opioids such as oxycodone, morphine, and hydrocodone rank among the most addictive and potentially dangerous substances available today.
At the most general level, the term “opioid” refers to a substance that relieves pain in the human body. Physicians prescribe opioids such as Vicodin and Oxy
Contin in a variety of situations, such as recovery from surgery or a serious injury. Opioids are typically taken in pill form, with prescribed doses typically falling between 5 and 10 mg every 4 to 6 hours.
Over time, however, the body tends to develop a tolerance to opioids and requires more and more to feel the same effects.
Once an opioid enters the bloodstream, it binds to specific receptors in the brain and other organs in the body, which significantly reduces the intensity of both physical and emotional pain stimuli.
In some people, opioid receptors can interfere with the natural function of the brain’s reward circuit, which produces feelings of euphoria and causes intense cravings for more opioids.
At low doses, opioids reduce pain sensations and produces feelings of relaxation and “fuzziness.” Side effects of medicinal opioid use include nausea, drowsiness, constipation, and a slight decrease in mental acuity.
At high doses, opioid use can result in a depressed respiration rate, lowered heartbeat, confusion, slurred speech, and significant cognitive impairments. In extremely large doses, opioids can result in coma or even death.
Opioids can produce potentially serious symptoms in the short term, and they have become known in many of the best drug rehabilitation centers in the U.S. for their high potential for addiction.
Because opioids act directly on opioid receptors in the brain, long-term use dulls these receptors and causes the individual to develop a physical dependence.
Even individuals who are prescribed opioids and take them as directed may develop a slight physical dependence if they use them for longer than a week or two.
While these types of dependencies usually disappear with a brief dosage decrease, they can nevertheless evolve into full-blown addictions if left unchecked.
To treat prescription opioid addiction, the best drug rehabilitation centers in the U.S. begin with a medically supervised detoxification. Prescription opioid dependence can produce dangerous withdrawal symptoms such as tremors, vomiting, and seizures.
As such, many of the best drug rehabilitation centers prescribe opioid substitutes such as methadone or buprenorphine, which bind to opioid receptors but produce far less intense physiological effects.
After the patient completes the detoxification process, he or she may enter a residential treatment program in order to learn healthy coping mechanisms and address the underlying causes of his or her addiction.