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Opioid Addiction and Rehab Treatment Programs

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Opioid misuse is a public health crisis in America. News reports talk often about the alarming rates of addiction and overdose. This article will help you understand what opioids are, how and why they can be dangerous, and how to find help for opioid addiction in Las Vegas, Nevada.

What are Opioids?

Opioids are in a class of drugs that include both legal prescription medicines as well as illicit (illegal) street drugs. Prescription opioids are important medicines used to treat pain; there are many valid medical uses for these drugs. Morphine, for example, is widely used to control pain right after surgery. Oxycodone is sometimes prescribed to control relatively severe, and in some cases, chronic pain. Historically, certain opioids have also been used for cough suppression and relieving severe diarrhea. But even opioids with valuable medical uses are associated with potentially serious health issues, including the development of opioid use disorder (OUD) and overdose.2

Health Effects of Opioid Use

Opioids such as heroin, hydrocodone, fentanyl, morphine, codeine, or oxycodone, can have both short- and long-term side effects.

Short-Term Effects of Opioid Use

Even if you take a prescribed opioid for a very short period of time, you may have side effects shortly after taking them. These include:3,4

  • Constipation.
  • Slowed breathing.
  • Slowed physical movement.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Feeling extreme pleasure (high), which is often called “euphoria.”

Long-Term Effects of Opioid Use

Potential long-term effects of opioid addiction include:6

  • Dry mouth and nose.
  • Chronic or repeated bouts of severe constipation.
  • Impaired vision from frequently constricted pupils.
  • Increased risk of accidents and injury.
  • Erectile dysfunction or irregular periods.

Some people snort or inject opioids. Common long-term effects of injecting drugs include:6

  • Skin sores and infections.
  • Hardening of the veins.
  • Heart infections.
  • Tuberculosis.
  • HIV and hepatitis from shared needles.

Regular opioid use can also lead to tolerance and physical dependence and increase your risk of addiction.4 Tolerance is when you need more and more of the drug to feel the same effects.4 Dependence means that you will go through withdrawal if you suddenly reduce or stop taking your dose.3,4

No matter how long you have used opioids, overdose is a very real danger.4 Roughly 47,000 Americans died from an opioid overdose in 2018.1 In Nevada that same year, 372 people died from an opioid-related overdose.1 At high enough doses, opioids can cause respiratory arrest, or completely stopped breathing, which can lead to a lack of oxygen (hypoxia) in the brain and brain damage.3,4

Signs and Symptoms of Opioid Addiction

Addiction is a chronic health disease where you have an uncontrollable urge to find and use drugs, no matter the harm caused by such use.8 The clinical term for opioid addiction is “opioid use disorder,” or OUD. Some signs and symptoms that you or someone you love may have an OUD include having 2 or more of the following in the last year:6

  • Taking more opioids than you meant to.
  • Taking opioids even though you know that a medical or emotional issue could get worse.
  • Having cravings to use opioids.
  • Trying to cut back or stop using opioids but being unable to do so.
  • Trouble at home or work due to opioid use.
  • Using opioids in risky settings, such as when driving.
  • Using opioids instead of doing things you used to enjoy, such as hobbies.
  • Spending a lot of time finding, using, and recovering from using opioids.
  • Problems in your relationships because of opioid use.
  • Opioid tolerance.
  • Opioid dependence.

About 2.7 million Americans aged 12 and older had an opioid use disorder in 2020.9

How Addictive are Opioids?

Opioid addiction is a serious risk of misusing opioids. There is no doubt that opioids are addictive, but how they affect you is different for everyone. In the short-term, opioid use can ease pain and make you feel sleepy (drowsy) and relaxed. Some people will feel euphoria while others might feel sick to their stomach.The effects of opioids vary from one person to another and can depend on how much you take, how you take it, and your previous use history.3

People often wonder how long it takes to get addicted to opioids. It is hard to say exactly when a person can get to this point. But both addiction and overdose are more likely if you misuse opioids. Misuse inlcudes:4

  • Taking more than prescribed.
  • Taking the opioid in a way that it was not intended, such as crushing, snorting, or injecting it.
  • Using someone else’s prescription.
  • Using opioids to get high.

Some people even misuse some over-the-counter medicines with opioid properties, which can also be dangerous and result in overdose when too much is taken.5 These medicines include dextromethorphan (DXM), which is in some cough syrups, and loperamide, which helps control diarrhea.

In the United States in 2020, 9.5 million people aged 12 or older misused opioids.9

Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of opioid withdrawal include:7

  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Stomach cramps and diarrhea.
  • Bone and muscle pain.
  • Trouble falling or staying asleep (insomnia).
  • Shakiness (tremors) in arms and legs.
  • Excessive sweating and yawning.
  • Teary eyes.
  • Goosebumps and chills.
  • Anxiety.

Treating Opioid Use Disorder

If you or a loved one has a problem with opioids and wants to quit, there is hope. Professional medical detox or rehab can help you reduce or even avoid many of the health risks of chronic opioid use.

For many people, the first step is medical detox. Detox helps you safely withdraw from opioids under the close care of medical staff. After detox, continuing treatment and recovery work may include medication-assisted treatment, counseling, inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation (rehab), and support groups.7

Detox and ongoing treatment can take place in an outpatient or inpatient setting.7 Inpatient opioid treatment means you live at the treatment center for the length of treatment and get 24/7 medical care and support.7 During outpatient treatment, you live at home and attend regular appointments for treatment.7 Your doctor can help you decide which treatment setting is right for your recovery needs.

Where Can I Get Help for Opioid Addiction in Nevada?

If you are in Nevada, American Addiction Centers (AAC) offers opioid rehab at Desert Hope in Las Vegas. AAC also has treatment programs across the United States, so you can find treatment close to home even if you don’t live in Nevada. Our kind and knowledgeable staff will help you create and individual treatment plan to meet your recovery needs. Call our 24/7 helpline today at to learn more about opioid addiction treatment. Our helpline is free and confidential, and we can help you start on your journey to opioid addiction recovery.

Does your insurance cover treatment at Desert Hope in Las Vegas? 

Check your insurance coverage or text us your questions to learn more about treatment by American Addiction Centers (AAC).