Opioid misuse and addiction can impact anyone - from young injured athletes to older adults with chronic pain.
Opioids are prescribed to treat pain when our body's natural ability to handle pain is not enough. Opioids can help relieve pain, but with prolonged use, the pain-relieving effects lessen, pain can become worse, and our bodies no longer respond the same. This causes individuals to need more opioids, placing individuals at risk for using illegal opioids or using prescribed opioids in a manner not prescribed by a physician. The body can gradually or rapidly develop a dependence or the need for opioids to avoid experiencing withdrawal symptoms. Addiction occurs when dependence begins to interfere with daily life, including hiding or lying about opioid use, struggling with personal relationships, or not completing daily activities because of opioids. Individuals who begin taking more opioids than prescribed or turn to illegal opioids like heroin are then at risk for overdose and death.
The good news is, addiction to opioids - or Opioid Use Disorder - is a treatable chronic disease. The best treatment for Opioid Use Disorder is FDA-approved medication (such as buprenorphine or methadone) in combination with behavioral therapy.