For many people and families, the holiday season kicks daily life into another gear; a time of year where the needs and desires of others take center stage. Naturally, stress levels rise as friends and loved ones hustle to work holiday preparations into their everyday schedules.
Under these conditions, someone struggling with opiate dependence faces certain risks in terms of being able to manage his or her drug intake from day to day. If you’re not careful, an opiate dependence can quickly turn into an opiate addiction without your even knowing it. Understanding how opiate dependence turns into opiate addiction can go a long way towards stopping the addiction cycle in its tracks.
How Opiates Work
Opiates include a large class of drugs ranging from prescription pain medications to heroin. Regardless of the type, these drugs work to block pain signals from reaching the brain. Opiates do this by forcing the release of neurotransmitter chemicals throughout the brain, and slowing central nervous system functions, according to the U. S. National Library of Medicine. Over time, the brain alters its own chemical processes to accommodate opiate effects. Both opiate dependence and opiate addiction develop out of these effects.
5 Ways Opiate Addiction Can Develop Over the Holidays
It’s not uncommon for people to abuse opiates as a means for relieving stress. While this may work initially, the longer you keep using opiates the less powerful their effects.
As the holiday season unfolds, a person may come to rely on opiate effects in order to cope with mounting pressures. The actual behavior or routine of taking a pill in response to stress, coupled with the anticipated relief the drug brings mark the beginnings of the opiate addiction cycle.
2. Increasing Tolerance Levels
Opiates trigger the release of neurotransmitter chemicals at individual brain cell sites. With frequent use, these chemical-producing cells undergo gradual structural damage, which accounts for the drug’s weakening effects. In turn, cells require increasingly larger doses in order to produce the anticipated effects of the drug.
In effect, the brain’s tolerance levels continue to increase with ongoing opiate use. These developments allow for a “smooth” transition from opiate dependence to opiate addiction.
3. Worsening Withdrawal Effects
With opiate dependence, the brain and body require the drug’s effects to function normally. Withdrawal effects become a sure sign that opiate dependency is at work.
Increasing drug use during the holidays will only bring on more severe withdrawal effects, which in turn prompts more frequent drug use at increasingly larger dosage levels. At this rate, the mind soon comes to depend on opiates to cope with day-to-day events, which is the hallmark of addiction.
4. Holiday Get-Togethers
The parties and get-togethers that take place during the holiday season provide ample opportunities to engage in drug-using behaviors. This, coupled with the cycle of drug use already taking place can easily tip the scales towards opiate addiction.
5. Psychological Impact
According to the University of New York at Buffalo, opiate addiction warps a person’s psychological make-up and overall character, stripping away the individual and everything he or she enjoys. As opiate addiction sets in, a person’s priorities shift. Getting and using opiates takes center stage while the overall meaning of the holiday season fades into the background.
If you’re struggling with opiate dependence this holiday season and have further questions or concerns about addiction, please feel free to call our toll-free helpline at 800-584-3274 for more information.