Addiction affects people from all walks of life. Opiate addiction is on the rise across the spectrum in spite of demographics such as age, gender or economic status. Prescription drug abuse is the fastest growing drug problem in the United States. Nearly 12 million Americans over the age of twelve reported non-medical use of prescription painkillers in the past year. Learn more about opiates, how to use the drug safely and what to do if a loved one shows signs of possible addiction to opiates or painkillers.


Safety First

Opiate pain medications, including hydrocodone and oxycodone, are intended for short-term use only. Doctors prescribe the drugs frequently and allow individuals to stay on the drugs for too long. Addiction can strike before a person realizes it has happened since tolerance builds slowly in the body over time.


Addictive Properties

Endorphins are built-in pain relievers which are secreted through the pituitary gland and bind to receptors in the brain when needed. Severe pain can cause a need for opiate pain medications which help bind receptors to result in faster, more complete pain relief. Once an opiate is taken consistently for more than one to two weeks, the brain undergoes changes resulting in physical addiction. Receptors in the brain send a signal to the pituitary gland that no more endorphins are needed which shuts down production of the body’s natural pain reliever. Opiates essentially replace the natural mechanism of pain relief in the body which now needs opiates to feel normal. This results in addiction.



Once changes occur in the brain, depriving receptors of the opiate will put the receptors into attack mode, resulting in withdrawal symptoms. Addiction is not a permanent state, it can be overcome but only with the right support and help. Treatment programs along with determination and help can create a winning combination of fighting addiction. Although withdrawal symptoms may be unpleasant, it is not impossible to overcome addictive behaviors to move towards recovery.


Effects of Opiates

Abuse of opiates can impact the brain and body in many ways. Opiates can cause vomiting, diarrhea, sedation and delayed reactions in the short term. Long-term symptoms can include the following:

  • Weakened immune system functioning
  • Gastric problems ranging from constipation to other issues
  • Medical issues including embolic events, infection, blood borne illnesses or other things contracted through IV use
  • Respiratory depression and organ injury


Addiction wears on the body, mind and soul long-term. Hope exists for individuals no matter how long or how far addiction has taken the individual off life’s course. It is possible to recover and lead a healthy, full life without addiction at the forefront. It all begins with admitting a problem exists and contacting treatment centers for help.


Hired Power connects individuals with the proper resources and information to make informed decisions regarding treatment options. Addiction is powerful, but we can help you recover. If you are struggling to quit prescription painkillers, call us to see how we can help.