Street names include: 40 (Oxycontin), demmies (Demerol), cody (Codeine)
Opiate painkillers come in many legal forms and are commonly used to treat pain. These include well-known drugs such as Oxycontin, Morphine, Demerol and Codeine. Most patients begin to abuse opiate painkillers after using them for legitimate reasons – doctor prescribed for chronic or severe pain. Further, because of the legitimacy of the prescription, many addicts do not realize or accept that they are addicted to the painkillers until much later in time.
Because of their similarities to heroin, opiate medication abuse can lead to heroin use. And similar to heroin, these drugs bind to the opioid receptors in the brain, suppressing pain and offering a feeling of euphoria. Continued use and abuse develops tolerance and eventually dependence.
Many younger addicts are able to try the drug by finding an adult’s legitimate prescription. There has consequently been a significant push for adults to secure their prescription pain medications or dispose of them properly when no longer needed.
Treatment for Opiate Painkillers
Opiate painkillers are synthetic forms of heroin, offering a similar high and requiring similar treatment. A regimen of detox – whose length of time is largely based on the quantity and frequency of abuse – will flush the toxins from the body. Since withdrawal from opiate painkillers comes with significant symptoms, a course of medication, as determined by a qualified physician, will likely be administered.
The individual will then start a course of behavioral therapy including counseling and follow-up care. The course of this care will depend on a thorough evaluation performed by the clinical staff of the treatment center or hospital. Many patients will then transition into a transitory level of care such as independent living facilities (Halfway Houses or Recovery Residences).
At the turn of the millennium, pain clinics prescribing opiate painkillers started to pop-up. Many of these clinics were using real doctors to prescribe opiate medications to patients who were willing to pay – rather than those who had actual pain-related issues.
The response from Federal and local governments, as well as the pharmaceutical industry, was to implement safeguards that deterred some abusers. Limits on opiate prescriptions, abuse-resistant pills and a crackdown on so called pill mills have made it much harder to obtain synthetic opiate painkillers illegally. Of course, there is always a flip-side, which has been the rise in heroin use since it is now the cheaper and more available option to those looking for opiates.