Opioid Addiction

Opiate addiction is a growing epidemic and overdoses have continued to increase as fentanyl has become more readily available. In 2021 alone almost 70,000 individuals in the United States lost their lives to opioid overdoses. Opioids are highly addictive and commonly prescribed for pain management. Prescribed usage can quickly escalated to abuse and addiction as tolerance and eventual dependence develop. Some examples of naturally occurring opiates include Opium, Codeine, and Morphine. These drugs are all derived from the naturally occurring opium alkaloids in the poppy plant. Synthetic opioids on the other hand are chemically synthesized and include heroin, Hydro-Codone, OxyCodone and Fentanyl. Synthetic and naturally occurring opioids interact with opioid receptors in the brain and bring about a range of responses including pain relief to relaxation, euphoria and sedation to decreased respirations and oxygenation. Continued use of opioids results in dependence, impaired concentration, reduced sex drive, reduced testosterone production, increased risk of fractures, infections, cardiovascular complications, sleepdisordered breathing, bowel dysfunction, as well as prominent withdrawal symptoms when use is discontinued. Avoidance of withdrawal symptoms are a major factor that contributes to continued usage and increasing tolerance and dependence, this positive feedback loop causes an individual to utilize higher and higher doses through out time which increase the likeliness of overdose and death related to respiratory depression.

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