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Abusing Opioids

Who Is At Risk Of Abusing Opioids?

While all individuals carry some risk of abusing or developing an addiction to opioids, there are some identifiable factors that play a statistically significant role in the development of this condition. Being aware of these factors will allow patients to be more informed as to their own potential for abuse or addiction and take necessary precautions before starting a course of these medications.

As always, consulting with your doctor or a Toronto drug rehab facility will provide you with the most up-to-date information regarding the abuse potential of various opiate medications. However, it is important to educate yourself as to the risks of any new medications you are prescribed and to be able to have an informed conversation with your health care provider to reduce your chances of developing a problem.

Let’s look at some of the critical factors and demographics that play a large role in who is at risk of abusing opioids:

opioid pill bottle

Socioeconomic Factors

Unemployment and poverty are two of the most prominent risk factors for developing an opiate addiction or for falling into the trap of opiate abuse. While wealthier people are also capable of abusing medications, the physical and psychological strain of unemployment and poverty lend themselves to seeking out relief in the form of prescription drugs which can rapidly become problematic.

Since these socioeconomic factors are also commonly associated with negative mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety, as well as a high degree of stress in one’s day-to-day life, caution needs to be used when prescribing opioid medications to those falling into this category. While nobody should be denied the relief from their symptoms that opioid medication can provide, it needs to be clear that those who are at risk in this way are properly informed as to their increased likelihood of developing abuse problems.

Length Of Use

Opioids are some of the most effective means of reducing symptoms of pain in the short-term. However, they become increasingly problematic when their use is prolonged. If your body and mind become accustomed to the use of opioid medication, then physical and psychological dependence can develop. In these cases, patients may begin to use more of the medication to elicit the same effect that they experienced when they first started to use it. They may take opioids more frequently and even on occasions when they are not experiencing symptoms of pain as a preventative measure.

Some studies suggest that opiate abuse becomes more likely after only three days of using prescribed medication. For this reason, it is important to be fully aware of the potential for abuse and misuse if you are prescribed opiate medications for any reason.

Medical History

Many factors in a person’s medical background can play a significant role in the development of opioid abuse and addiction. If someone has an extensive family history of substance abuse problems, then there is an increased risk for such a condition to continue. Naturally, a personal history of substance abuse problems needs to be carefully considered when being prescribed opioid medications. If you have impulse control problems or previous experience in a rehabilitation facility, then your use of opioids will need to be carefully monitored by medical professionals – perhaps by a team at a Toronto drug rehab facility.

If you have a history of mental health problems including depression and anxiety then you will also need to closely watch your use of opioid medications to prevent this use from becoming problematic.

Environmental Factors

While many of the factors that play a role in the development of opioid abuse are innate to a particular person, many can be controlled by the environment. For example, those who associate with individuals who pursue high-risk activities or who abuse drugs will be more likely to exhibit these behaviours as well. Hanging out in high-risk environments such as well-known illegal drug havens will increase the likelihood that a person will abuse opioids.

Close up of a tub labelled fentanyl

Personal Factors

Younger individuals are more susceptible to the abuse of opioids than older people. Those with a history of criminal activity or risk-seeking behaviour will also be more likely to develop a problematic relationship with opioid medications or illegal substances. If you have had problems with past employers or have difficulty with relationships (with either family, friends or a partner), then your chances of turning to opioid abuse are also greater.

Certainly, any existing problems with addictions – including heavy tobacco use – will dramatically increase the chances of a person abusing or becoming addicted to opioids. Existing pathways of dependency and addiction in the brain lend themselves to polysubstance abuse and need to be disclosed with medical professionals when being prescribed opiate medications.

Interestingly, gender also plays an important role in the development of opioid abuse. Women are more likely than men to have trouble with this condition, though the reasons for this difference are complex.

If You Think You Have A Problem…

If one or more of these risk factors apply to you, then you need to be cautious with your use of opioid medications (and certainly need to avoid taking illegal opiates). Recent controversies over the abuse of prescription opiates in the United States has brought this issue to prominence in the public eye. While doctors are increasingly cautious when prescribing such medications, it is important that individuals take an active role in their own treatment by staying informed of the risks as well as self-monitoring their own behaviour to make sure that abnormal patterns are not developing. For conditions such as chronic pain, opioid medications might not be the best course of action for you to take. Consider and ask for non-opiate treatments whenever possible.

Toronto Drug Rehab Facility

Consulting with a trained medical professional or stopping by one of Toronto’s drug rehab facilities will provide you with more insight into whether your use of such medications is becoming problematic. These resources are a great means of catching problematic behaviours before they can begin to overpower you and affect other areas of your life.

Contact Freedom From Addiction today for more information.


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