DEFINING THE DISORDER

Opioid addiction is a medical disorder that results from the recurrent use of opioids and creates a reliance on the drug that fuels the need to continue using, despite the emotional, physical and social impacts it may have on one’s life. 

You may even see another name for opioid addiction - opioid use disorder (OUD) - in the news, or hear about it from your doctor. Opioid use disorder is the correct medical term for what we would commonly call opioid addiction.

WHAT ARE OPIOIDS?

 Opioids are natural or synthetic chemicals that interact with opioid receptors on nerve cells in the body and brain, and reduce the intensity of pain signals and feelings of pain. This class of drugs includes the illegal drug heroin, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, and pain medications available legally by prescription, such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, and many others.

Opioid pain medications can be used to treat moderate to severe pain, and are generally safe when taken for a short time and as prescribed by a doctor, but because they produce euphoria in addition to pain relief, they can be misused. In fact, someone can become dependent on opioids within seven days of use. 

HOW TO RECOGNIZE THE 

SIGNS OF OPIOID ADDICTION 

  • Strong desire for opioids

  • Inability to control or reduce use

  • Continued use despite interference with major obligations or social functioning

  • Use of larger amounts over time

  • Secretive behavior/disappearing for hours without explanation

  • Nodding off

  • Pinpoint pupils

  • Slurred speech and drowsiness

  • Impaired memory and attention

  • Development of tolerance

  • Spending a great deal of time to obtain and use opioids