Drug Rehab Program

It is a tragedy that prescriptions meant to help a troubling condition may in fact create another one: addiction.  In addition to addiction the number one cause of preventable and accidental death in some areas of the country is overdosing on opiate drugs.

The increasing concern by society at large, the medical community, and mental health professionals who prescribe opiate containing substances is very high. The ease of obtaining prescriptions for the growing list of medicines containing opioid compounds and opiate derivatives has grown. The varied reasons to prescribe the pain relief substances found in opiates has grown as well.

The Action Recovery Group drug rehab center at (801) 475-HOPE treats opiate addictions and abuse. A brief overview of the growing prescription opiate abuse problem is outlined here.

A Brief History

An “opiate” is a “narcotic” and the byproduct of the Asian poppy flower. Opiates have been known for centuries to reduce pain and increase a euphoric sense of well being that easily becomes addicting. Addiction to opium has also been known to impoverish and create tragedy for many centuries. The opium trade flourishes in such places as Afghanistan and Pakistan where opium poppy plants are treated as a crop.

Heroin, for example, is one of the most well known street drugs derived from the opium poppy. Heroin is an illicit drug taken both orally and intravenously. The most common method of heroin abuse is injection. Heroin converts to morphine in the brain and binds to molecules which interact with the opioid receptors. These opioid receptors trigger reward and pain mediation responses. A “rush” accompanies the chemical changes in the brain—more intense through intravenous injection— but because it is a depressant, heroin makes the user drowsy for hours after its use.  Heroin use can be deadly by slowing down normal body functions, such as heart rate and breathing. Overdosing is not uncommon by both long-term users and casual abusers of heroin.


The mixing of other central nervous system depressants such as alcohol, barbiturates, and prescription drugs derived from opium such as oxycodone or hydrocodone, may exacerbate the situation of casual use to permanent dependency. This temptation to mix drugs stems from a desire either for a quicker effect on the brain and to avoid withdrawal symptoms which can be intensely painful. This has further led to high rates of accidental overdose and death even among casual first time users.

There are both biological and emotional reasons for addictions to substances known as “opiates” which include the following list:

  • Morphine
  • Codeine
  • Oxycodone
  • Hydrocodone
  • Meperidine
  • Paregoric
  • Oxymorphone
  • Methadone
  • Levorphanol
  • Fentanyl
  • Buprenorphine

For a complete list of commonly abused drugs visit National Institute of Drug Abuse link:

The products derived from these substances are meant to treat chronic pain, after-injury pain, after-surgery pain, and also for therapeutic effects in their central nervous system properties as a depressant drug. Opiates in prescription narcotics are ranked in order of prevalent abuse as follows:

  • Oxycodone
  • Hydrocodone
  • Methadone
  • Morphine
  • Hydromorphone
  • Fentanyl
  • Buprenorphine

The terms “opioid” and “opiate” sometimes confuse people. They are essentially referring to compounds derived from the Asian poppy flower and can be explained as follows from NAABT.Org:

“Opiates are drugs derived from opium. At one time “opioids” referred to synthetic opiates only (drugs created to emulate opium, however different chemically). Now the term Opioid is used for the entire family of opiates including natural, synthetic and semi-synthetic.” www.naabt.org/education/opiates_opioids.cfm

From www.drugabuse.gov we read the following:

“Opioids, mostly prescribed to treat moderate to severe pain, include drugs such as hydrocodone (e.g., Vicodin) and oxycodone (e.g., OxyContin). Opioids act on the brain and body by attaching to specific cell surface proteins called opioid receptors, which are found in the brain, spinal cord, gastrointestinal tract and other organs. When these drugs attach to certain opioid receptors, they can attenuate the perception of pain and its attendant suffering. These drugs also can induce euphoria by indirectly boosting dopamine levels in the brain regions that influence our perceptions of pleasure. This feeling is often intensified by abusers who snort or inject the drug, amplifying its euphorigenic effects and increasing the risk for serious medical consequences, such as respiratory arrest, coma, and addiction. Combining opioids with alcohol or other CNS depressants can exacerbate these consequences.” http://www.drugabuse.gov/about-nida/legislative-activities/testimony-to-congress/2010/09/prescription-drug-abuse

The Body Has Natural Opiates

It is well to note that opiate drugs are substitutes for the body’s own pain producing drugs and mechanics for dealing with pain. From “Medicine.Net” we get an insight into how the brain attempts to help us with pleasure chemicals to reduce pain, stress, and anxiety.

“Endorphins are among the brain chemicals known as neurotransmitters, which function to transmit electrical signals within the nervous system. At least 20 types of endorphins have been demonstrated in humans. Endorphins can be found in the pituitary gland, in other parts of the brain, or distributed throughout the nervous system.

Stress and pain are the two most common factors leading to the release of endorphins. Endorphins interact with the opiate receptors in the brain to reduce our perception of pain and act similarly to drugs such as morphine and codeine. In contrast to the opiate drugs, however, activation of the opiate receptors by the body’s endorphins does not lead to addiction or dependence.

“In addition to decreased feelings of pain, secretion of endorphins leads to feelings of euphoria, modulation of appetite, release of sex hormones, and enhancement of the immune response. With high endorphin levels we feel less pain and fewer negative effects of stress. Endorphins have been suggested as modulators of the so-called “runner’s high” that athletes achieve with prolonged exercise. While the role of endorphins and other compounds as potential triggers of this euphoric response has been debated extensively by doctors and scientists, it is at least known that the body does produce endorphins in response to prolonged, continuous exercise.” www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=55001

Effects from Long Term Opiate Use

Opiates and opioid dependency leads to tolerance for the drugs and the craving for more. Opiates depress the respiratory system. Slowing down breathing complicates oxygen to the lungs and blood stream.  Large doses of opioid drugs and derivatives with depressing qualities can completely shut down a respiratory system causing death.

As with all opiates a high tolerance for the drugs can be acquired with constant use; meaning it takes more or higher doses to achieve the prior effect.  Natural opiates are created in the brain.  Synthetic opiates essentially trick the opioid receptors in the brain creating the need and craving for more of the drugs. When a person continuously takes opiates the brain’s nerve cells cease to produce natural opiates.

Ceasing to take the synthetic opiates creates the additional dilemma of withdrawal and the associated effects. A drug rehab center can help with this stage of healing from opiate abuse.

Opiate Withdrawal and Treatment for Addiction

Regular use of prescribed opioids causes dependence both emotionally and biologically. A person with a dependency or addiction on opiate drugs will suffer withdrawal symptoms when  attempting to stop abruptly. Withdrawal symptoms may peak anywhere between 24 and 48 hours and last for many days.

Some of the withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Severe headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Shakes and shivering/chills
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Diarrhea
  • Restlessness
  • Insomnia
  • Runny nose and teary eyes

Some of the long term and immediate effects may include:

  • Heart, liver, and kidney damage
  • Respiratory failure
  • Cardiac arrest and cardiovascular damage
  • Brain and nerve damage
  • Overdose and possible death

Recovery from Addiction

Recovery from opiate addiction takes time but is possible. An addicted person will need to reframe dependency through learning of coping skills that help deal with the challenge of dependency and underlying motivations for opiate abuse.  At Action Recovery Group in Ogden, this begins with an individualized approach to healing addictions. Specific treatment designed with the individual in mind is created with dedicated staff, medical, and counseling professionals.  Drug rehab is the positive first step in reclaiming independence and freedom from any drug or alcohol addiction.

Action Recovery Group provides local leadership in prescription drug addictions. The dedicated professionals at Action Recovery Group are just a phone call away at 801-475-HOPE.