Are Opioids Addictive?
Opioids and opioid-based drugs are great for treating pain, but they are also all physically and mentally addictive. Every opioid-based drug from a low does of Hydrocodone to Heroin is a narcotic that can lead to opioid addiction.
NOTE: I am not a doctor, I am simply stating a fact. That fact is that opioids and opioid-based drugs are addictive. For professional medical advice, see a medical professional.
That means, all of the following opioids and opioid-based drugs are addictive and can lead to opioid addiction:
- Buprenorphine / Naloxone (Suboxone)
- Fentanyl (Actiq, Duragesic, Fentora, Abstral, Onsolis)
- Hydrocodone (Hysingla, Zohydro ER)
- Hydrocodone/acetaminophen (Lorcet, Lortab, Norco, Vicodin)
- Hydromorphone (Dilaudid, Exalgo)
- Meperidine (Demerol)
- Methadone (Dolophine, Methadose)
- Morphine (Kadian, MS Contin, Morphabond)
- Oxycodone (OxyContin, Oxaydo)
- Oxycodone and acetaminophen (Percocet, Roxicet)
- Oxycodone and naloxone
NOTE: Naloxone is an opioid blocker and acetaminophen is a non-narcotic non-opioid pain killer that is in Tylenol. They are only in the above list because they are commonly mixed with opioid-based drugs.
TIP: Naloxone without Buprenorphine can be used to treat opioid addiction without using highly addictive substances like Buprenorphine and Morphine.
FACT: Most of the DEA.Gov’s drug schedule is full of the opiates listed above. Opioids make every category from Schedule I to Schedule V.
TIP: You can sometimes save someone from an opioid overdose with Naloxone (Narcan, Evizo). This is good to know for overdoes from powerful opiates like Fentanyl and Heroin. In places with high amounts of overdoes volunteers will walk around with these drugs to help overdose victims.
How Did Opioid Addiction Begin?
So, as you can see:
- Really useful pain killers that can be the difference between great suffering and manageable pain that are opioid-based can lead to opioid addiction.
- Opioid street drugs that people use can lead to opioid addiction.
- And, treatments for opioid addiction that contain opioids like Buprenorphine and Methadone can lead to opioid addiction.
This presents a really complicated situation.
That is, how do we effectively treat pain and prevent the opioid crisis? How do we deal with the fact that we lock up drug dealers who sell heroin, but some of America’s richest businesses sell Oxycodone and Methadone? Or, more for you, how do you keep you and your family from becoming heroin addicts next time they have their tooth pulled and need a script of Hydrocodone for a broken bone?
Great questions? I don’t actually have the answers to those… I just wanted to confirm that everything from the dreaded heroin in a junkie’s needle to your minimum does Hydrocodone every 6 hours was technically the same sorts of chemical compounds working on the same receptors in the brain… and all of them, by the way, contributing the opioid crisis which is currently ravaging our country.
One Nation, Overdosed: Documentary On The Deadliest Drug Crisis In American History (Full) | MSNBC
NOTE: The Q&A below is part from research (the sources and videos on this page for example) and part from talking to people (remember, we are years into a opioid crisis in the US, not hard to talk to people who have gone through this). Remember, if you want a professional opinion, ask a professional.
How long does it take to get addicted? The science on this is all over the place. Some suggest it takes a long time, but others point out that people can get addicted to opioids very quickly. In some cases, people may not make it through their first script without at least starting to become somewhat dependent on opioids (as the euphoria can be addictive before the real physical addiction truly sets in).
Are some opioids more addictive than others? Any chemical compound that acts on your opioid receptors is going to have the same effect. That is, euphoria, nausea, drowsiness, itchiness, constipation, respiratory depression, and eventually opioid addiction… however, different types of opioids are easier to get addicted to and harder to get off of than others. Also some types are more concentrated and dangerous than others. For example, the opioid treatments methadone and Suboxone are very addictive and hard to get off of, Fentanyl is probably the most powerful (and easiest to die from) of all the legal opioid-based drugs, and heroin depending on its purity can be very addictive and powerful (and easy to die from) as well.
What is opioid addiction like? It can result in depression, fatigue, and make it hard to concentrate. Mostly it is euphoria while the drugs are working though. The only problem is you need more and more opioids to feel euphoria over time, and you feel less and less pain relief and euphoria the longer the addiction goes on (you build up a tolerance).
What is opioid withdrawals like? It is like a mix between having the flu and wanting a cigarette. The intensity of it depends on how addicted you are. So it is hot/cold, fever, sweat, body aching, headache, stomach ache, depression, fatigue, insomnia, strong desire for more opiates. Here is a tip though, if run out of opiates and think you are sick, but then having opiates makes you feel better again, you are very likely addicted to opiates as a rule of thumb and should seek help. This is especially true if you find you can replace one opiate with another, for example if you run out of Hydrocodone and Buprenorphine or Codeine you are also prescribed to makes you feel better… yeah, that is opioid addiction.
How long does it take to get over addiction? Some people get mentally addicted for life once they become physically or mentally addicted… but that depends on the person. Meanwhile, physical withdrawals can last days, weeks, or months depending for how much you used and for how long. In general using low strength opioids for a short period of time should only result in a short period of physical withdrawals. Like with quitting smoking, part of the trick of getting over the addiction is overcoming the mental dependency, part is getting over the physical dependency.
Is it worth becoming an opiate addict if it means treating pain effectively? This one is a toss up. Very subjective. Hard to argue that not treating intense temporary pain or terrible chronic pain is better than being an opiate addict with a steady supply. Both those things are pretty messed up. The real problem with opiates is that they are the best known pain killer.
Are there alternatives to pain treatment that aren’t narcotic-based? Yes. Tylenol and Ibuprofen work wonders… but ask your doctor. TIP: One of the most effective parts of Hydrocodone/acetaminophen drugs like Norco is the acetaminophen. The acetaminophen is great at treating pain, but it doesn’t get you high… the Hydrocodone does both. Never met an acetaminophen addict in my life to be honest, but you can overdose on anything… so be careful.
Why is there an opiate crisis in America? The simple answer is that big phrama marketed opioids as safe and then they spread to the streets and it resulted in many people being addicted to opiates. It doesn’t help that opioids are very cheap with health insurance and a prescription, cause euphoria, and are very addictive… and sell for a high street price… and that heroin is cheaper and works as a replacement for opioid addicts. It is a cluster of epic proportions, especially when you consider opioids arguably are the best pain killer known to modern medicine.
The Opioid Crisis: HMS Responds With Education