Walking Without Pain
As with any addiction, opioid use disorder is no different: the activity is tried for the first time, repeated episodes progress, tolerance develops, other activities begin to take less priority, life begins to revolve around the addiction, withdrawal symptoms appear and the cycle repeats itself.
Opioids are very addicting because they take away all of the pain in your body; imagine feeling comfortably numb for hours on end! Opioids are medications that are prescribed to patients suffering from bodily pain. When someone who does not have pain takes an opioid, their mind and body experience maximum euphoria and relaxation; this is the rewarding effect of opioids.
A user usually realizes that they have become addicted to opioids when they begin to experience withdrawal symptoms: yawning, piloerection, diarrhea, vomiting, dilated pupils, abdominal pain, insomnia, etc. Because opioid withdrawals are extremely uncomfortable, most users quickly obtain more opioids to relieve them from the physical symptoms.
Once the first withdrawal has been relieved by more opioids, a user realizes that they can never experience a withdrawal again due to the extreme discomfort associated with it. So their only option is to keep using opioids, hoping that their addiction remains easily controllable.
The problem is that their addiction takes off to new highs because of a concept called tolerance: the need for higher doses to achieve similar effects as previously achieved at lower doses. Higher doses require more opioids which require more money! If money is an issue, users turn to criminal activities such as burglaries, robberies and drug dealing to support their habit.
Not to mention that needles are shared amongst users due to convenience; it is easer to share than to seek out clean needles. This behavior promotes the spread of diseases such as HIV, hepatitis C and bacterial infections resulting in skin abscesses. Health begins to deteriorate; addicts are not very preoccupied with their well-being and also begin to eat less. This results in the loss of weight and energy; their health further plummets.
As you can see, opioid use disorder does not simply revolve around the high only. It is a multifactorial disease that is affected by euphoria, tolerance, withdrawal, criminal activity, cost and health.
What starts out as a simple curiosity for pleasure turns into a spiraling addiction that never stops spinning downwards.
Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)