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When people think about opiate addiction they usually think of some moral failing; people want to get high or some other typical cliché. It turns out that none of these are true.
People use opiates/other drugs for all kinds of reasons. Their path to addiction is never a simple one.
Here I want to speak about people that became addicted to opiates through prescriptions given by a doctor.
Hindsight is 20/20, and this is true of doctors also. Over the last 25 years, new medicines were developed, and there was a lot of pressure on doctors to treat pain.
Now looking back 25 years we see that things could've been done more carefully.
Unfortunately, regarding treatment of many types of pain, we are still stuck with the medicines we have and these medicines will always be addictive until we find other methods that are not addictive which is going to be a long time in coming and difficult.
That's not to say that we don't know a lot more now about the psychological management of pain and alternative methods such as acupuncture that can help a lot of people. The trouble is many of these treatments are difficult to come by and challenging to pay for.
So I want to address those people that may feel uncomfortable about taking opiates and may not know that they are addicted or they fear that they are addicted but don't want to face the fact or the embarrassment or shame and guilt that may come with that thought or admission.
The vast majority of people that are in this situation are people that have chronic orthopedic problems or are cancer patients.
We need to be clear that there is a medical addiction, that is if you take these narcotics for any length of time you will become dependent on them. That means you will have some real physical withdrawal if you come off them. It does not mean that you're abusing them or misusing them.
But I don't want to put one group of patients against another. Heroin addicts are in the same situation as an opiate addict in that everyone is trying to avoid withdrawal symptoms and at the same time come to grips with the fact that their brain has been hijacked. They simply cannot overcome the cravings. And even if they do overcome the withdrawals are there as the emotional pain that was there originally and it comes rushing back...
We now know that even two weeks of an opiate such as hydrocodone: Vicodin/ Norco or oxycodone use can lead to addiction.
Someone that is in the situation of being dependent should not beat themselves up. We need to understand that there is a difference between medical addiction and going beyond that the appropriate amount of medication for pain control.
However, if one goes beyond the prescribed limits for pain control either you legitimately need more medication or you are treating emotional pain.
Opiates do hit the same areas. In this case, educated oneself and understand that there is help.