Opioid Dependence

Pills

Like me, you may be wondering why so many talented young adults are dying of heroin overdoses. Why are they getting ‘hooked’ on opiates? This epidemic is in our neighborhoods, in the news and sadly in our hearts. A growing number of young adults are using and becoming addicted to opiates, using either heroin or prescription medications such as Oxycodone, or morphine.

Why are these drugs so addictive?

Opiates stimulate the brain to activate certain neurotransmitters which cause strong feelings of euphoria. Over time, however, more and more of the drug is needed to produce the same euphoric effects. For these individuals, taking the opiate is no longer about the positive feelings that were felt the first few times they took the drug. Now, the opiate use is about avoiding physical illness and symptoms of withdrawal. This is the vicious cycle of opiate addiction.

Why are prescription drugs a potential gateway for heroin use?

Opiate abuse often escalates to heroin abuse because opiate tolerance builds up quickly. The higher tolerance means it takes higher doses of the drug to produce the same effects. Heroin is often cheaper and easier to access than painkillers. Therefore, many users transition to heroin.

Where can I find help?

There are a number of ‘best practice’ medical and therapeutic interventions for the treatment of opiate addiction. Treatment options include:

* Professional counseling (individual or group therapy).

* 12-step meetings.

* Inpatient treatment.

How can Columbia Addictions Center help?

Columbia Addictions Center offers outpatient counseling for groups or individuals, and has a full time psychiatrist on staff to address the needs of our clientele. If a higher level of care is needed, we work closely with a vast network of providers to find the most appropriate inpatient placement for each individual.