Understanding Opioid Addiction – Opioid Antagonists
Opioid addiction in the UK has been on the rise since the early arrival of cheap heroin from overseas back in the 80’s and 90’s. This problem is huge in America at the moment, with prescription painkiller abuse and medication addictions further spurned on by the pharmaceuticals industry drastically underestimating the extent of the level of addiction opium inspires.
Before we truly understood opioid medications we already had an addiction crisis. Before proper research was conducted, we were already dying from overdoses in the streets. Opioid addiction will most definitely kill you if you do not stop. Help4Addiction is here to help you stop. Call us now, on 0203 955 7700 to speak to a consultant for free advice, and don’t waste a single second longer.
Now that we have established that we are here to offer help and impartial advice; let’s delve in to the topic of opioid addiction and antagonists. We want to know what they are, how they work, and whether or not they are a good treatment option.
What is an Opioid?
First of all, let’s officially classify an opioid. Opioids (sometimes known as narcotic drugs) include any medication or any drug that contains opium as a source of pain relief. Opium is highly addictive but it isn’t just heroin. Opioids could be prescription painkillers, street drugs, or worse. Some lesser known opioids that cause UK addictions are:
- Morphine – this pain killer is effective but incredibly addictive. Visit this NHS page if you suspect you have a morphine addiction.
- Oxycodone – Oxycodone addiction in the UK is treatable, Medical News Today have all the information you need on the signs and symptoms of oxycodone addiction.
- Methadone – methadone addiction is similar to morphine addiction. It is a powerful analgesic drug that can be used as a replacement for stronger drugs – but that is also highly addictive… in the case of substituting methadone for heroin it is like weaning the abuser on to the lesser of two evil substances. Methadone is much less likely to kill you than heroin is.
- Codeine – Codeine addiction is a massive problem in parts of the UK. Most commonly known as one of the main chemicals found in Tramadol. Tramadol addictions are also on the rise.
If you are struggling with any of these opioid addictions personally then get in touch. We can put you into contact with the correct resources to get you help.
What is an Opioid Antagonist?
Opioid addiction is a physical addiction because it changes the way our brains operate, if we let it go on for long enough. The brain has three main opioid receptors as a matter of course. Everyone has these, but they are only triggered by two things. One is naturally occurring neurons which trigger the release; the other is by external stimulation from opioids.
If you continue to use prescription medications which contain opiates your body will begin to tell you that it feels pain even when it does not. Opiates have the ability to take control of your body’s pain, rewards and addiction centres. This means that if these three receptors start to malfunction, they can make you feel physical pain until you get your next ‘fix’.
It is these opioid receptors in the brain that make heroin addiction so difficult to overcome. It is also these receptors that play a large part in the role of the opioid antagonist.
The opioid antagonist is a drug that acts as a blocker to your receptors. They will absolutely not allow your brain to receive any opiates, or to simulate the neurons which will fire these receptors. Instead, the opioid antagonist will counter the effects of any opiates that remain in your body and cause you to expel them.
The opioid antagonist your GP may prescribe can act on the receptors individually, or can act across the board. As much as this may seem like an attractive way to combat substance abuse in the UK – there are risks of making such drastic changes to body chemistry while in the throes of heroin addiction.
The Pros and Cons of Rapidly Reversing Opioid Addiction
While Opioid antagonists can rapidly reverse the effects of addiction, they are not always deemed safe to use. The shock they produce can be deadly, besides anything else.
Some of the pros of using an opioid antagonist include:
- They can be long or short lasting.
- They can bind in part, or to all of, the body’s receptors.
- They can actively displace opiates, meaning the patient is effectively ‘cold turkey’.
- They help correct the body’s natural neurological processes.
While some of the cons of using an opioid antagonist include:
- They can cause huge amounts of shock to the system, particularly to those with heart conditions or who have been addicted to opioids for a long time.
- They can make a patient incredibly sick.
- The patient will start to feel physical pain as the drug leaves the system.
- It is the equivalent of having every trace of a feel-good substance removed from your system, all at once. It is harsh, but sometimes a GP will deem it necessary for your recovery.
Do you get access to Opioid Antagonists on the NHS?
You can receive specialist addiction therapies, including opioid antagonist medications, through the NHS. You can learn more about this from your GP or from your local rehab centre. Antagonists may not be suitable for those with underlying health conditions, nor will they be deemed suitable for those who have been on opioids for prolonged periods of time. However, they do work for some patients.
Is An Opioid Antagonist right for you?
Is an Opioid antagonist an effective means of treating heroin and methadone addiction in the UK? Perhaps. Your doctor is best equipped to make this decision with you. The most important take away from today should be that you landed in our pages.
Help4Addiction are able to help you recover from substance abuse – with or without the opioid antagonists! Call us today, on 0203 955 7700 for some free advice, and to start your path to recovery!