Julie had a history of opioid use but had been in recovery for almost a year. Layoffs at work had made life stressful, and Julie unfortunately returned to use. She had been managing anxiety her whole life and felt like opioids were the only way out. She felt like taking any opioid she could get her hands on would ease the grip anxiety held on her. She was confident and carefree – just as long as she was on opioids. The moment the opioids ran out, the anxiety would be worse than it had ever been before. She believed that she needed to have opioids in her life just to be able to live.
In 2022, there were 4,330,771 opioid prescriptions written in Tennessee, and it can be challenging to ask for help. This is why ReVIDA® Recovery will always alter your treatment plan to fit your unique needs, and why we’re always here for those who have experienced a return to use or need additional support. Like many others, Julie had risk factors in place for her developing opioid use disorder. These risk factors contributed to her use of opioids and her returns to use. Today, we’re discussing these risk factors and what they can mean for you or a loved one.
Table of Contents
What Is an Opioid Use Disorder?
Opioids and opiates are both substances that are used for pain relief. The most significant difference between opioids and opiates is that opioids are synthetic, while opiates are often natural. They include substances that can be prescription or illicit, such as fentanyl, heroin, Oxycontin® (oxycodone), Vicodin® (hydrocodone), and morphine. When someone takes more than they are prescribed or takes opioids for long periods, this can lead to dependence, which leads to an opioid use disorder. This can include side effects of intense cravings, having difficulty stopping the use of opioids even when you want to, and increasing the dose over time to receive the same effects as before. People often develop an opioid tolerance as time passes, so they need to increase their dose.
What Are the Risk Factors for Opioid Use Disorder?
Are some people more likely to use opioids than others? There are several risk factors for opioid use disorders. Genetics, poverty, peer pressure, and other societal factors can all play a role in whether or not someone becomes dependent on opioids. Not everyone who experiences risk factors for developing opioid use disorder will develop an opioid use disorder. Developing an opioid use disorder is typically complicated, and many factors can be at play. Having risk factors only means that you are at risk, not that you will develop one.
Is There a Genetic Role in the Risk of Opioid Use Disorder?
Many genes are believed to be involved in developing opioid use disorders, and it isn’t always just one gene. If genes are involved in developing an opioid use disorder, it is often a combination of several different genes. Although there does seem to be a connection between family members, genes only play a small part in someone developing an opioid use disorder as they are more likely to be related to the environment.
The Link Between Opioid Use Disorder and Pain Killers
Doctors prescribe some opioids to treat moderate to severe pain. Prescription medications include Vicodin® (hydrocodone), OxyContin® (oxycodone), Kadian® (morphine), Opana® (oxymorphone), fentanyl, and codeine. When prescribed by a doctor, they are typically given for short periods only. However, even a short stint of use can result in an opioid use disorder when they are taken in a way other than the way they were prescribed, for their effect, or when someone takes someone else’s prescription. When prescription opioids are misused, they might be swallowed but can also be crushed, opened, dissolved, injected, or snorted. The effects of opioids can include feelings of relaxation and happiness while also controlling a person’s pain. This encourages the person taking them to want to continue to take them.
Peer Pressure and Social Environment Increases The Risk of Opioid Use Disorder
Peer pressure can lead to both positive and negative behaviors. For example, a friend might encourage you to save to buy a house or apply for your dream job. This would be an example of positive peer pressure. On the other hand, a friend might encourage you to try opioids, promising that it will help with your pain or make you happy. That would be an example of negative peer pressure. All forms of peer pressure can effectively persuade someone to do something. It can also come in several forms. People don’t have to directly tell you to do something for you to feel like you should. If you are around people using opioids regularly, whether they offer you any or not, you might feel peer pressure to start using.
How Depression and Anxiety Can Increase the Risk of Opioid Use Disorder
Depression, anxiety, and opioid use have been linked with each other. Opioids can affect the brain in several ways. An opioid use disorder can cause depression and anxiety, but the opposite can also happen. It should also be noted that they can exist simultaneously without being related. While opioids can invoke pleasure and happiness, these effects are typically short-lived. Long-term opioid use can lead to impairment in mood regulation. It might also impact sleep patterns, leading to increased mood disorders. On the other side, existing depression can increase the chances of an opioid use disorder due to the substance relieving the symptoms of depression. Likewise, anxiety works the same way. Many people use opioids to cope with their anxiety symptoms. Long-term use of opioids can also lead to increased anxiety, creating a sense of unpredictability and uncertainty.
The Impact That Friends and Family Can Have on Opioid Use Disorders
Like with peer pressure, close friends and family can impact the development of opioid misuse. Many people get their opioids initially from their friends and family. They could be prescription opioids or illicit substances. If friends or family participate in opioid use, it can lead to someone using opioids due to peer pressure.
Getting Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder
There is an opioid crisis in Appalachia, and the best way to prevent the risk of an opioid use disorder is not to use opioids at all, or to use them safely under a doctor’s care. Using opioids safely means only using what you are prescribed for a short period. Only use opioids that a doctor has prescribed to you. Never use anyone else’s opioid prescription. If you need assistance with an opioid use disorder, asking for help is never a sign of weakness.
If you are ready to start recovering from an opioid use disorder, ReVIDA® Recovery is here to help you reclaim your life. We know how difficult it can be to find a place to seek help for an opioid use disorder. You probably don’t want to leave a familiar place just to get help in an unfamiliar location. This is why we offer several locations throughout Tennessee and Virginia so that you can get the help you need closer to home. For more information about opioid use disorder treatment or are ready to start your treatment, call us today at 423-631-0432.
What are the risk factors for use and overdose of opioids?
Risk factors for the use of opioids include genetics, family or friends who use opioids, peer pressure, and mental health concerns such as depression or anxiety. Risks of an overdose of opioids include taking medication that is not yours, taking more opioids than what is considered safe and monitored by a doctor, and taking opioids mixed with other substances.