Events & News

What is addiction?

4/9/2018

            Opioids are used for pain management and other health conditions and include codeine, hydrocodone (Vicodin), oxycodone (Percocet), hydromorphone (Dilaudid), morphine, propoxyphen (Darvocet) and methadone.

            “Susie” is being treated for severely painful sciatica. The doctors prescribe pain medications for her but she resists using them because she doesn’t want to become addicted to them. But Tylenol isn’t touching the pain that she tolerates rather than risking dependence on opioids.

            Misuse of the drugs is what causes problems in many instances.

            Mary is a former nurse. She was prescribed opioids for pain following a fire and fall at her home. The addiction crept up on her to the point of thinking that taking more would make her feel even better.

            “Opioid medications are sometimes misused to self-medicate or to get a good feeling,” advises SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.) That good feeling is the ‘rush’ or ‘high.’ “People misuse medications by taking their own prescriptions improperly, stealing medications, going to multiple doctors to get extra, or buying them from drug dealers.”

            When addiction happens, the person’s body is tolerant of the medication and they need more to get the same effects they got before. They can become dependent on the opioids and get sick (withdrawal) when there are no opioids in their bodies. They are unable to taper off the medication without the help of a physician.

            It’s easy to see why “Susie” is reluctant to use pain medications.

            Addiction is a word that everyone recognizes, but does everyone understand it? Tawnia Jenkins works at Family Recovery Center, facilitating Project DAWN. She has been making presentations to organizations throughout Columbiana County to explain how addiction to opioids works, stimulating conversations that need to be happen because of the negative responses to heroin addiction and the use of Narcan to revive overdoses and prevent death. Narcan (Naloxone) reverses overdose, preventing death.

            FRC provides training to use the Naloxone kits. Each person completing the training receives a kit containing two doses of Naloxone. It is recommended that anyone with a family member known to be using opiates should obtain a kit for their household. Businesses that would like to have a kit on site can send a designated individual(s) for training.

            SAMSHA explains, “Addiction is a disease that results when the opioid has made changes to the brain. A person using medication properly is not likely to get addicted, but this sometimes happens. Addiction usually occurs through misuse. Some people are at higher risk of addiction because of their genes, temperament or personal situation.”

            What happens when you crave something? What happens when you lose control? In addiction, cravings are so strong and the fear of withdrawal is so great, a person can’t kick the addiction without help. Opioid addiction can’t be cured, but it can be managed.

            Treatment works. Treatment doesn’t just deal with the drugs. Treatment helps to work through life problems that may contribute to the addiction. Treatment moves people to healthy living.

            “Taking medication for opioid addiction is like taking medication to control heart disease or diabetes. It is not the same as substituting one addictive drug for another. Used properly, the medication does not create a new addiction. It helps people manage their addiction so that the benefits of recovery can be maintained,” says SAMHSA publication, “Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Addiction: Facts for Families and Friends.”

            Heroin Anonymous is now meeting at Oxford House, 320 Benton Road, Salem, at 8 p.m. on Tuesdays. This is a safe, non-shaming and free place for heroin addicts seeking recovery to get support from other heroin addicts.           

If your group would like to learn more about Project DAWN, contact Tawnia Jenkins at Family Recovery Center to schedule a presentation. Knowledge is the key to understanding.


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