If you have lived through a car accident, or had surgery, or delivered a baby in a hospitalized setting, you may have already had an experience with opiate medications. They are without question considered to be life saving medications for those suffering through a great deal of pain, but they can also entirely destroy a life if not administered with extreme care. Maybe you’ve seen the recent Facebook news post regarding the hospitals reaching out to the public to assist with holding opiate addicted newborns in hundreds of hospitals across the United States. Some will view that news post as just another casualty of addicted Mothers, and continue to scroll through their social media feeds. The issue is that this is no longer a type of addiction that you can only see from a street corner at night in a poverty stricken neighborhood. It’s becoming so common, that you most likely know someone that is currently abusing or has been through treatment for opiate medications. It isn’t exactly crack, or cocaine, but it is equally as damaging and harmful for those trying to live without them, as withdrawal from these medications can result in the need for professional detox treatment, or even suicide.
Take this emotionally gripping story from the Washington Post, about a patient that went through a motorcycle accident, then had to ensure some of the toughest days of his life just trying to stop taking his pain medications. These have been prescribed to him by his team of physicians, and were not something he fumbled upon buying drugs off the street. How can a patient become addicted to medications that were administered by professional doctors? Pretty easily it seems, as millions of Americans are also trying to cope with this same epidemic.
Once your body has become accustomed to the way that the opiates overtake the mind and body, it can be very challenging to get back to regular, day to day life without them. Some patients admit these medications made them feel more social, they were literally pain free, and they have an increase in energy as well. Sounds too good to be true? That’s because it is. The body sends pain signals to the brain to alert you that something is wrong, and when those signals are masked by these overpowering opiates, trying to live with a headache, or a back ache that would ordinarily be considered “run of the mill” aches and pains, the patient cannot cope with them. The withdrawal process is one that should be handled gingerly, according to most physicians. The patient should be tapering off the medications each day, giving the body less and less of the opiates versus quitting them cold turkey. Quitting them in such a rash setting may seem admirable, but it can put you in the hospital of not done with care. Sweating, depression, physical pain, having no energy, and taking numerous trips to the restroom, can all be one has to endure to get off of these powerful pills.
If you, or someone you know is struggling to get off of an opiate dependency, please get them professional help as soon as possible. The HHS has some great resources listed here to help start the process, and get you back to living your life without addiction.