Many people come to depend on opioids because they’ve been prescribed them for pain relief from a sports injury, an accident or something else. Opioids activate receptors in the brain, sending abnormal messages by flooding the brain’s reward system with dopamine (a “feel good” chemical”). When this happens, the drug blocks pain messages being sent and instead produces feelings of relaxation or euphoria for a person. For many, this euphoric feeling is what leads into the development of dependency – and, eventually, addiction. A young woman shared her story with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on developing opioid addiction after having a car accident when she was 25 years old. The CDC stated that one day, she doubled her opioid dose – and eventually found herself becoming addicted to heroin, a place she never thought she’d be.
With such a strong hold on the body, withdrawal symptoms can be challenging to work through as a person recovers. In many instances, pain will suddenly emerge as a person detoxes from opioids because the receptors in the brain have been blocked from those “pain” signals for so long. In 2017, Peter Grinspoon, MD, told Harvard Medical School that of his own experience with pain after coming off of opioids. He stated, “My leg was hurting beyond belief. I literally felt as if it were burning off. But, I had spent the last 13 years of my life conditioning myself, almost in a Clockwork Orange kind of way, to be aversive to taking any and all opiates.”
These situations are exactly why it’s so critical to be surrounded by a support system – a team of healthcare professionals who can be there for you when the pain feels unbearable. In these instances, sometimes medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is necessary – and there are opioid medications that, with close monitoring and strict doses, can help a person manage the pain their experiencing without becoming addicted again. In addition to this, holistic practices – such as mindful awareness, can help those in recovery reach a state of psychological peace.
Avalon Malibu is a world-renowned, California state-licensed mental health and substance abuse recovery center. If you are ready to seek treatment to develop the tools you need to overcome life’s obstacles and be on the road towards happiness, health, and well-being, call us today at 888-958-7511 for a consultation. It’s never too late, and there are people here ready to help you.