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How Brain Becomes Dependent On Opioids & How To Convince Addicted To Get Help

Opioids are one of the most potent, addictive, and overdose-prone drugs in the world, having been around for thousands of years to help relieve pain, and recently produced by pharmacies for the distribution of “prescription painkiller medications.” Essentially, heroin is also a part of this category. And although it is strong medicine for those suffering from moderate to severe pain, opioids have done as much harm as they’ve helped people, as thousands die every year from overdose incidents–thousands more struggle with abuse and addiction.

But how does the brain create such a strong dependence on opioids (including heroin)?

Opioids are addictive because it creates an immense pleasurable sensation, where even a small dose can begin to change the person’s brain and body, thus, creating intense cravings for the drug. This is a natural (and often unbeatable) reaction, as the rush of pleasure causes the body to crave the drug to extreme levels.

  • As a result, signs of opioid addiction begin to be displayed by the user, such as:
  • Withdrawal when not using opioids for certain periods of time (1 or 2 days, depending on the level of addiction)
  • Stealing or lying to get more drugs
  • Feeling an intense craving or longing for use
  • Constantly thinking about taking opioids

It is recommended to seek counseling for addiction or speak out to someone who can help find treatment, as tolerance builds quickly with opioid use, causing a need for more opioids to get a weaker high, in greater doses, and more frequently; this ultimately leads to hospitalizations, overdose, and death. Consider addiction treatment in a professional rehab center, as opioid addiction treatment programs (in an inpatient or outpatient setting) yield the highest chances of success for long-lasting recovery.

When a person is addicted to opioids, there are many ways to convince that individual to seek help—whether it’s going to counseling, group therapy, or being admitted to an inpatient or outpatient rehab that utilizes professional treatment therapies.

But how do we even achieve the first step? How can we convince the addicted individual to seek help?

The first rule of thumb is not to pressure him/her to seek help, as essentially, it’s up to the individual whether or not help will be sought. It’s their recovery, so they must want it for themselves in order for a higher chance of success. But there are other ways to help that is much more subtle (and persuasive) than telling them, “You need help. Seek treatment.” Below are helpful tactics that can help convince an addicted loved one to seek help.

  • Conduct a family intervention
  • Talk about the negative consequences
  • Have a recovered addict (who is well-experienced with achieving and maintaining sobriety speak with the individual, and give them a first-hand look at how recovery is possible
  • Find out and discuss why the addicted individual doesn’t want to seek help

Finally, talk with the addict, not “at” the addict. This is important, as any sign of disdain or contempt (such as getting angry, raising your voice, or talking down to the person) will only add to the shame and guilt of addiction; remember to be respectful, patient, and compassionate in order to gain the addict’s trust.

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