Opiate Addiction Signs & Co-Occurring Disorders

Opiate addiction usually turns out after a patient dependent on painkillers to treat their pain becomes highly tolerant and addicted to narcotics. Also called narcotic addiction, people treated with medications such as codeine, dihydrocodone, morphine,methadone, hydrocodone, OxyContin, and heroin are more likely to abuse them.


Opiate works by depressing the central nervous system, reducing physical and psychological pain and slowing down body function.However, the danger of taking the narcotic makes certain individuals more probable to develop an opiate addiction more than others.

When it is taken over a long period of time, opioids may cause brain damage and may hinder the body from creating natural opiates or endorphins.  When this happens, the body develops tolerance to the narcotic and unable to treat the pain.

Patients are only prescribed by their physicians for a particular time and so those abusing it feel withdrawal symptoms during the time they are unable to take it. Since opiate addiction already developed, patients turn to heroin, which is more accessible, cheaper and provides the same euphoric high.

Some addicts have developed a strong addiction that they seek stronger substances to add with narcotics such as alcohol or benzodiazepines. Adding other substances to opioids triggers greater high to the abusers.

Nearly all addictions such asopiate addictionis associated with co-occuring mental disorder. The mental illness that should be treated along with addiction includes:

•    Schizophrenia
•    Bipolar disorder
•    Anxiety disorders
•    Depressive disorders
•    Conduct disorders
•    Antisocial personality disorder
•    Borderline personality disorder

When one is diagnosed with addiction, they should also be assessed for the presence of mental illness. These co-occuring disorders should be treated the same time because both of them are linked to each other and may trigger the other disorder.

Narcotic abuse has been a growing problem in the United States over many years. In 2006, 5.2 million people have abused opioids in the recent month. The numbers of deaths attributed to narcotic overdose have increased to 17,000.

It is still uncertain what causes addiction, but researches have pointed out the influence of many factors, including genetic, biological, environmental and psychological. Someone addicted to opioids initially experience psychological symptoms such as depression, mood swings, anxiety, irritability and euphoric mood followed by depression.

The effects of opiate addiction are devastating to the users and to their loved ones. It leads to the destruction of relationships, homes, job loss, divorce, homelessness, domestic abuse, trouble with the law, and health problems.

If you found your loved one addicted to painkillers or other narcotics, encourage them to enter a rehabilitation center to get treated. Some effects of narcotic abuse are permanent, so it is important to correct and get the earliest treatment.