By the time opiate addiction takes hold, the effects of the drug do a number on a person’s psychological makeup and overall well-being. As of the first drug dose, opiate effects work to perpetuate continued drug use. Consequently, the longer a person abuses opiates the harder it becomes to stop using.
Addiction denial develops out of these effects, leaving users trapped inside the drug abuse cycle. While getting needed opiate addiction treatment help may be the last thing on an addict’s mind, it’s the only thing that will break the drug’s hold over his or her life.
Opiate Addiction Effects
As with most addictive substances, opiate addiction develops out of the drug’s effects on the brain’s reward system, also known as the mesolimbic reward system. This system uses information obtained from the cognitive and emotion-based areas of the brain to determine a person’s overall life outlook and everyday behaviors.
Opiates trigger the release of large amounts of dopamine, a neurotransmitter chemical that regulates pain and pleasure sensations. Dopamine also acts as the primary neurotransmitter within the brain’s reward system processes.
According to the U. S. National Library of Medicine, the repeated release of dopamine chemicals that result from opiate abuse creates an imprint on the brain’s reward system that essentially works to shape a person’s motivations, belief systems and daily priorities. These interactions lie at the heart of the opiate addiction cycle.
The Opiate Addiction Cycle
The overall goal of opiate addiction treatment works to break the addiction cycle. This cycle develops over time as the brain becomes increasingly dependent on opiate effects to function normally.
During the course of opiate abuse, the brain develops an ongoing tolerance for opiate effects, which drives users to keep increasing dosage level amounts. In the process, users experience bouts of withdrawal that occur more and more often the longer they keep using the drug.
These processes all work together to drive compulsive drug-using behaviors. After a certain point, these effects start to warp brain reward system functions.
The Role of Denial
Once addiction sets in, a person’s brain has become biologically programmed to use opiates regardless of the negative consequences that result from continued drug use, according to the University of Nebraska. This programming taps into a person’s logic and reasoning abilities as well as his or her sense of right and wrong.
Under these conditions, denial-based beliefs work to protect and justify ongoing drug-using behaviors. In effect, a person becomes incapable of seeing the addiction as a problem in his or her life. Opiate addiction treatment helps addicts identify these faulty belief systems and develop healthy coping behaviors for managing daily life.
The Need for Opiate Addiction Treatment
While addiction denial may make perfect sense from the addict’s viewpoint, the effects of addiction in his or her daily life can only be ignored for so long. Signs of needed opiate addiction treatment may take the form of:
- Decline in physical health
- Decline in appearance and personal hygiene
- Financial problems
- Criminal activity resulting in problems with the law
- Problems at work
- Family conflicts
Opiate addiction treatment offers addicts a way to overcome the physical and psychological effects of addiction using medication and/or behavioral-based treatment interventions. In the absence of needed treatment help, a person’s life will continue to spiral out-of-control as opiate effects continue to warp the brain’s functional capacity.