Opioid drugs typically come in two different forms. On the one hand, they are found as prescription painkillers legally prescribed by members of the medical community to help alleviate issues of chronic pain. On the other hand, they are illegally manufactured illegal substances which provide similar sedative and euphoric effects to legal prescription medications. Whether legal or illegal, opioids are highly addictive and potentially dangerous when misused or abused. Without comprehensive treatment, opioid misuse often leads to addiction and overdose, and death in the most severe cases.  

Opioid Addiction Defined

When you develop a dependence on an opioid, it is known as an opioid use disorder. Addiction treatment professionals use several diagnostic criteria to diagnose opioid addiction properly. Some of the most notable criteria include developing a tolerance to the drug, cravings, drug-seeking behaviors, and withdrawal symptoms if you try to reduce or stop using. Opioids are highly addictive. Even when taken as prescribed, it does not take long to develop a physical addiction to opioids. In some cases, dependence and addiction can develop in as few as four weeks. Physical and psychological dependence on opioids can be extremely difficult to overcome without professional detox and addiction treatment services. 

Are Opioid Addiction and Mental Illness Related?

Opioid use among those struggling with a mental condition is very common. In fact, only about sixteen percent of Americans have mental health disorders yet receive more than half of all opioid prescriptions.  Those with mood and anxiety disorders are twice as likely to use opioid drugs to reduce the severity of symptoms than those without mental health problems. They are also three times as likely to misuse opioids when prescribed for symptom management. 

Opioid use can also contribute to new or worsening mental health symptoms. Some studies have shown that individuals who received prescription opioids for various conditions have gone on to develop mental health conditions within weeks or months after taking the drugs. The longer they continue to take opioids, the greater their risk for developing a mental health condition. Mental health and opioid use are highly connected. In 2018, as many as half of the adults who suffered from a substance use disorder also struggled with a mental health disorder. 

How to Get Help With an Opioid Addiction and Mental Illness

When used as prescribed, opioids are very beneficial in helping to reduce chronic pain. However, due to their powerful effects and the way in which they impact the structure and function of the brain, dependence, and addiction among those who use opioids is common. On its own, opioid addiction is difficult to overcome without professional assistance. If you struggle with opioid addiction and a mental illness (a dual diagnosis), it is essential to seek help at an addiction treatment facility specializing in medically assisted detox and dual diagnosis treatment. In a medically assisted detox environment, highly trained staff will help you navigate the challenges often experienced during detox and withdrawal from powerful opioid drugs. 

Your treatment team will provide support to help you manage, sometimes severe, withdrawal symptoms. They will monitor your vital signs to ensure your safety and, if necessary, provide medications to help reduce the intensity and severity of withdrawal symptoms. Once your body is cleansed of substances, it is possible to transition into a comprehensive, evidence-based addiction treatment program. During therapy, you will learn more about the root causes of your addiction and how addiction and mental health symptoms are related. 

If you struggle with opioid addiction, today is the day to seek help. Reach out to the addiction treatment staff at Cal Recovery Center to learn more about how our detox and dual-diagnosis treatment programs can help you begin your journey to recovery. 

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