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Opiate Abuse

Opiate abuse includes drugs such as codeine and morphine, which is fast becoming a major problem all across the United States. Some believe that only a certain age group is involved with opiate abuse, however, this is very far from the truth. People from all walks of life and from every age group have problems with opiate abuse. In 2006, it may be hard to believe, but just fewer than 20 million people over the age of 60 abused some type of prescription drug. In some cases, the opiate abuse was an accident while others wanted relief from pain or wanted to sleep. Opiate abuse is very prevalent in the United States and is growing. These drugs are highly addictive, are found in medicine cabinets across America, and are almost considered the okay drug to use.

Since most opiate abuse is found among individuals with a prescription and it is a legal drug so to speak as long as you have a prescription, many people look on this type of drug abuse as fine, and dandy since it is not a street drug. The problem is these drugs are just as dangerous as the street drugs if not in some cases even more dangerous.

In 1997, 16,000 individuals were admitted for opiate abuse, but this figure is now out of sight at 90,000 in 2006. Heroin on the other hand, which has always been the opiate problem rose from 251,000 to 337,000.

Many people who become trapped in a cycle of opiate abuse likely did not realize the dangers in their prescription medications. Others deliberately abuse drugs like Oxycontin, Xanax, and Percocet for their euphoric effect, inhaling, smoking, and injecting them in ways similar to heroin or cocaine. Abuse of opiates leads to increasing dependency as the drug chemically alters the way the brain functions and the body develops a tolerance. Drugs taken safely in small dosages, for short periods of time, become traps as users take higher and higher doses and exceed the safe time limit, which is usually quite short, 10-30 days.

In many cases, those with opiate abuse problems did not realize the risk but then of course they are those that abuse the drug on purpose. In the majority of cases, most opiate abuse is seen with individuals between the ages of 17 and 24 along with elderly over the age of 60.

If you believe you have a family member or friend with an opiate abuse problem the signs to watch for include drowsiness, lethargy, reduced vision, constricted pupils, shallow breathing, shaking, vomiting, chills, and excessive sweating to name a few. Other signs of opiate abuse can include needle marks, raw nostrils, and red nostrils.

In most cases, the treatment for opiate abuse includes medications to help manage the withdrawal symptoms such as buprenorphine, methadone, and naltrexone. Along with the medication, counseling and behavior modification is also included in the treatment. Today, there are over 13,000 treatment centers in the US offering a wide array of treatment options for opiate abuse sufferers.

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