Opiate painkiller drugs in all their forms, whether prescribed medications, illegal drugs or over the counter medicines are being abused more frequently in the UK and causing an increase in deaths as a result.
Deaths rates in the UK relating to opiates have spiralled out of control in recent years, declaring a nationwide opioid crisis.
At Step by Step Recovery we take opiate painkiller addiction very seriously. We understand that not everyone becomes addicted to painkillers as a result of blatant abuse; some develop an addiction through seeking relief from genuine pain.
The nature of opiate pain killing drugs is that they are highly addictive and tolerance to them can occur within a matter of days. This can lead an individual down a very precarious path of having to keep increasing the dosage for the same pain relieving effects. Taking any less can send them into opiate withdrawal.
Step by Step Recovery, whilst we treat opiate painkiller addiction very effectively, feel that education around opioids is an effective measure in opiate addiction prevention.
Opiates painkillers are a class of analgesic narcotic medications that are derived from the opium poppy plant. Opiates have powerful pain relieving effects as they block pain signals to the brain by binding to the opioid receptors in the brain and also in the spine. Whilst they are very effective in treating pain of any level, including mild, moderate and severe pain, one of the many side effects produced by opiates is euphoria. It is this side effect that those who abuse opiates seek.
Opiate painkillers do not cure any ailments instead they act as a masking agent for associated pain. They come in a number of forms and strengths – They can be bought legally over the counter at lower strength dosages, obtained on prescription at medium to higher strength dosages and obtained illicitly in the form of Class A drugs or by purchasing controlled drugs off prescription.
Opiate painkillers can be taken safely when taken exactly as prescribed or instructed and not mixed with any other drugs, especially alcohol, other opiates or sedatives – all of which can lead to overdose and death.
All prescribed opiate painkillers should be carefully monitored by your doctor or pain management consultant. Pharmacies are very careful these days to point out that opiates can quickly lead to addiction.
Synthetic opiate painkillers are man made, they mimic the effects of opiates but also produce a powerful euphoric high.
Synthetic opiate painkillers such as Methadone, Tramadol and Fentanyl are renowned for their addictive and powerful euphoric properties; they are sought after synthetic medications commonly abused by drug abusers and drug addicts.
Synthetic opiates are often more complex and challenging to stop and require a medically assisted or medically-managed prescription drug detox in order to achieve abstinence from a dependence.
An opiate rehab programme will assist in ensuring an opiate addict stays clean and avoids opiate relapse.
The following opiates and synthetic opiates are licensed for medicinal purposes only. They are either a prescription opiate drug, over the counter opiate or a synthesised opiate drug.
Abuse and addiction to over the counter opiate pain killers has sadly become very common. Medications such as Nurofen Plus, Solpadeine Max, Co Codamol and Feminax are just a few of the opiate/codeine based medications that can be purchased without prescription.
All opiate medications that are purchased come in codeine form and are combined with other analgesics such as paracetamol, ibuprofen or aspirin for increased pain relieving effects.
Addiction to opiate based over the counter medications can occur in as little as 3 to 5 days of continuous use. Many underestimate how powerfully addictive opiates are and only realise that there is a problem when they try to stop.
Prescription opiate painkillers are very commonly abused and like any opiate a tolerance and dependence can quickly occur. Many individuals become inadvertently addicted to opiates after being prescribed them for pain following an operation or an injury.
Prescription opiate painkillers are now monitored far more carefully than they used to be by GPs and are now classified as controlled Class C drugs. This means that it is illegal to have these medications in your possession without a valid prescription that is for you.
The trouble tends to come when there is a long term chronic pain condition that requires effective pain management. A physical tolerance to a dose of opiate medication quickly develops meaning that the pain relief is less effective. The physician in charge of prescribing them then has two choices – to increase the dosage or find a suitable non opioid alternative.
An individual who has a long term pain condition that requires pain management is likely to find themselves on a very high dosage of opiate drugs to which they are physically and mentally addicted. Non-opiate alternative medications commonly include gabapentinoids, which have come to light as being equally as addictive.
Opiate dependence often requires opiate detoxification, which is a medical process of reducing the dosage or exchanging it for another opiate medication and reducing from that. Opiate detoxes can be conducted by your GP, local drug and alcohol services or in a private drug rehab facility.
An opiate detox is only effective in safely removing the drug from the body. Intense evidence based treatments should then be undertaken to treat the psychological side of addiction.
The main risks that prescription and over the counter opiate painkillers present is dependence, addiction and overdose. Anyone that is using or abusing opiates on a regular basis is at high risk of developing a dependence and addiction.
When opiate painkillers are abused or mixed with other drugs there is a considerable danger of overdose. Many unintentionally overdose, not understanding the dangers that mixing opioids with alcohol or other drugs presents.
Statics recorded by ONS (Office for national Statistics) for opiate related deaths in England and Wales show an alarming and steady rise over recent years:
|Number of deaths|
|All drug poisoning deaths||2,597||2,955||3,346||3,674||3,744|
|– Heroin and/or morphine||579||765||952||1,201||1,209|
The statistics for drug deaths for 2017 detail 3756 deaths, which is comparable to 2016. However, Fentanyl deaths further increased as did Codeine deaths which increased from 131 in 2016 to 156 in 2017. Codeine is a commonly purchased over the counter medication and prescription painkiller.
Heroin and morphine (there is no distinction as heroin is broken down into morphine in the bloodstream) presents the biggest problem of all the opiates. This is partly due to the fact that there has been a noted increase in the purity of heroin available in the UK.
If you or a loved one are abusing opiate painkillers or have an addiction to opiate painkillers, professional help and treatment is available.
The NHS have undergone substantial cuts to their budgets for drug and alcohol treatment. This has sadly contributed to the increased death rates and lower treatment engagement figures. However, help can still be sought for opiate painkiller addiction and abuse through your GP and your local drug and alcohol team.
Narcotics Anonymous also provide free non professional help in the form of self help groups and a recovery programme.
Comprehensive opiate painkiller addiction treatment can be accessed through private rehab. Step by Step Recovery specialise in professionally treating all manner of addictions including prescription painkiller rehab. If you would like to know more about our bespoke opiate painkiller detox and opiate rehab programmes please call us direct or complete and return our online assessment form.
Opiate painkiller addiction is treatable. If you want to stop opiate painkillers we can help. Call us today on 0800 170 1222.
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