Opiates are a group of drugs that all act on the brain in a particular way.
Anyone that takes an opiate for an extended period of time will develop some type of addiction.
The most common one is what is referred to as a “medical addiction.” This is when someone needs the medication for control of pain and takes the medication as prescribed. They will become physically addicted but they will not increase their does. If they stop they will go into physical withdrawals.
Addiction that needs to be treated on its own is when for genetic and or psychological reasons someone starts to increase their dose. This can lead to problems of having to be deceitful to get more medication, spend more money, risk incarceration and above all lead to severe liver damage and possible death.
A partial list of opiates by trade name and common street name: Vicodin, Norco, Opana, Oxycodone, Percocet, Methadone, Kadian, MS Contin, Dilaudid, Opium and Heroin. All of these and others attach to the same brain receptors and can eventually cause full blown addiction.
Some unfortunate people would never have become addicted if it were not for medical prescription that introduced them to the drug. The majority of people find, usually early in life, that they are helped emotionally or in terms of increased energy and start taking opiates on their own.
An unappreciated fact about opiates is that they do not act not as a “downer” or sedative for many people but as a stimulant. People feel that they can function better on them. This may or may not be true but in all cases it points to an underlying problem as to why someone may have a hard time functioning without the drug.
There is now an effective treatment for addiction called buprenorphine (Trade names, Suboxone, Zubslv and Bunavail). It is a type of opiate but stabilizes the mood and stops cravings. It is very difficult to abuse and increasing the dose has little or no effect.
Addiction is not, most importantly, a “just say no” situation. There has been damage to the brain and this needs to be addressed. Physical, dietiary and emotional aspects of ones life also should be confronted.
Ref: Biology of addiction: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xRP5rb8edoc
Ref: The role of physical activity in addiction: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-06-12/health/sc-health-0612-fitness-fight-addiction-with-exerci-20130612_1_todd-crandell-drug-addiction-reward