Why are opioids so hard to quit?

Opioids are notoriously addictive, but why is that so? Here we discuss why opioids are so difficult to quit and the treatment implications that are needed for recovery.

Self-Medicating and Addictive Behaviors

Opiates are addictive on a psychological level and can encourage patients to self-medicate either intentionally or unintentionally. In addition to reducing physical pain, they also reduce emotional pain. Individuals prescribed opiates who also suffer from mental health challenges such as anxiety or depression may find additional relief from taking opiates. As opposed to getting a high from opiates, these patients use the medication to reduce psychological pain symptoms by simply feeling less. As individuals continue to self-medicate, they go on to develop severe opiate addictions. If you’re struggling with staying away from opioids, check out The Edge Treatment to see more ways we can accompany you on your battle against opioids.

Superhuman Feel-good Qualities

Opiates are so addictive that they create physiologic benefits that are far stronger than natural endorphins. The feeling of energy and well-being from working out and eating right is similar to opiates, only they are significantly stronger than these natural endorphins. People want to feel this good all of the time, which is why taking opioids can be so addictive.

Improper Detox Methods: Opioid Treatment Programs

Because of how strong opiates are, pharmaceutical therapy is needed to reduce the effects of withdrawal. Many people attempt to “stand” the withdrawal, and this leads them to defeat quickly. It is an expensive and time-consuming process to get involved with adequate opioid treatment programs for addiction, and opiates require additional assistance for detox to be possible. Check out some detox programs in your area like those from Mallard Lake Detox. For most people, there is a need for substitute opioid agonists and an antidepressant medication to fulfill the opioid receptors without the drugs. As a result, withdrawal symptoms are lessened, and cravings are reduced. The psychological aspects of withdrawal are better maintained with antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication, easing the process as well. 

Dependence and Withdrawal 

Opiates are also addictive because of excruciating withdrawal. When a person attempts to detox from opioids, they are faced with unbearable physical and emotional pain. Research has suggested that approximately 25% of people enrolled in opioid treatment programs leave before their detox is finished because they can’t stand the pain. People then go back to their addiction to relieve themselves from withdrawal. Even if people tough it out, the psychological aftershock can last for months at a time. Having to endure this pain for so long is a significant reason people cannot quit.

Opiate Drug Tolerance

Like other drugs, opiates affect neurotransmitters and the sense of pleasure that we experience from dopamine production. After a while, the body becomes depleted and has a hard time producing feel-good chemicals that boost mood and energy levels. To make up for this depression, people continue taking opioids to feel normalness and to offset withdrawal symptoms. This is what is referred to as tolerance, and it is another reason people stay addicted.

Ending an opioid addiction is certainly a battle. Fortunately, there are protocols in place to ease the withdrawal process and allow for a safe and lasting recovery.