What it Means to Be Opiate Tolerant

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Have you had an injury or an illness that causes you to be in pain? Your doctor has probably prescribed powerful narcotic pain medication to help control the pain so that you can lead a normal life. Opiate medications are often prescribed by doctors as they are highly effective in controlling pain after surgical procedures and treating painful illnesses that cause nerve damage, etc. Unfortunately, people can become opiate tolerant over time and this can reduce their ability to respond well to the medications that are prescribed for their treatment of legitimate pain.

What is Opiate Tolerant?

Opiate drugs can be addictive and some people become tolerant to the medication when it is taken for extended periods of time. This means that more of the drug is needed to achieve the pain relief than when the treatment started. This can lead to abuse of opiates as the need for more seems to grow and grow.

While some become tolerant to opiates because they are prescribed the medication by their doctor, others take opiates to simply get high. Opiates can be obtained on the street in the form of narcotic pain killers and heroin. To keep tolerance from occurring they will take breaks from using the drugs. This can actually be more dangerous for two reasons.

The first reason is that when opiates are stopped abruptly after a tolerance has been developed, it causes withdrawal symptoms that make you very sick. It is not recommended that you discontinue the use of opiate drugs on your own or cold turkey when you have a tolerance to the drug.

opiate abuse

If you need more of the same medication to feel its effects you have developed a tolerance.

The second reason it is that illegal drugs like heroin and cocaine are not produced by drug manufacturers. You never know how strong the batch might be and if your tolerance has decreased and then you get a large dose it can cause you to overdose.

The Role of Prescription Narcotics

That doesn’t mean that you won’t overdose on prescribed opiates however. According to NIDA, ” More deaths now occur as a result of overdosing on prescription opioids than from all other drug overdoses combined, including heroin and cocaine” making them just as dangerous to abuse. In fact, in 2008 more than 14,000 people died by overdosing on prescription pain killers and studies show that the numbers are increasing every year.

Medical and Behavioral Therapy Treatment

You shouldn’t be ashamed if you have developed an addiction to opiates. Addiction can be overwhelming and nearly impossible to overcome without professional help. Treatment on an outpatient basis is usually effective in treating opiate addiction. Medical treatment and behavioral therapy in conjunction have proven to very successful in opiate addiction treatment.

Medical detox of the opiates usually takes about a week but can last longer depending on the severity and length of the addiction and then treatment can usually be continued while you live at home with your family. This helps to keep the cost of treatment down and it is also provides the comfort of being surrounded by your family and loved ones while you undergo treatment. Having the support of your family can really give you the extra drive that you need to stay focused on getting well and staying committed to your recovery.


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