Who would have ever thought that they would become addicted to opiates?

I don’t know about you, but I have had that thought over the years about a person that I know and associate with or knew back in high school or college. Someone whom peers admire that comes from a great family and is going places in life. The last thing you would ever suspect of them was that they were going to spiral downward into the throes of addiction.

It’s not as if it was on their list of things to do.

No one plans to become addicted to opiates. For that matter, no one seeks to become a drug addict of any kind.

Young and dumb

If only hindsight came beforehand! When we’re kids, we are not nearly as smart as we think.

Using drugs and drinking while teenagers is an accepted part of our culture for so many! Jumping off into the party life is anticipated with feelings of excitement. The plan isn’t to get sucked into a lifestyle of drugs or alcohol, but, sadly, a lot of young people do.

We see images of drinking and drugs being glamorized in movies and on television. We hear “remember when” stories from dysfunctional family members about the “glory” days of their youth.

Yes, many kids look forward to the day that they can skip down the path to party town. If they stay on it, though, it’s a path that bogs them down in the muck and mire from which some never return.

This is especially problematic with the normalization of drug use that we’re seeing as marijuana legalization sweeps the nation forcing employers to adjust.

Casual users and self-medication

Addiction is simply not worth risking.

It can lead to disaster every time someone is under the influence. Drug use is never a wise plan of action.

If a person is using an illegal substance, there is a problem from the get-go. Self-medication is just a code word for feeling the need to escape and casual use as an adult is about the same.

People that think they have things under control and can use to unwind from the stress life creates, often find themselves caught up in addiction. They don’t realize or choose to ignore the fact that they are using drugs more frequently until their lives are in turmoil.

It’s no longer a “casual thing” when it becomes something you do every time you get the chance or when you wake up in the morning feeling the need. Not to mention what happens to your life and that of your family when you are spending the rent or grocery money on your drug of choice.

When treatment takes a turn for the worse

Another reason that people become addicted to opiates begins innocently enough. Doctors often prescribe opiates for pain relief following surgery or severe injury. If someone is dealing with chronic pain, a doctor will prescribe a synthetic opioid as a way for them to experience some relief.

At some point, though, the prescription isn’t refilled.

Perhaps the healing time has passed, or in the case of chronic pain, the person might begin to use the drug over the doctor’s orders. When a prescription runs out too soon, it immediately sends a red flag to the doctor who will seek an alternative treatment for their patient.

It’s often not until that moment that a person realizes they “need” the drug. Not as a method of pain relief, but because they crave it. Their brain has decided that functioning under the influence is good. Even then, they may refuse to believe they are addicted to opiates.

Maybe they never used drugs in their life. The genetic factor can hook a brain at the first “ahhh” after surgery.

Many who find themselves in this situation don’t seek help but go to the street to find the drug. Prescription opiates are very expensive on the street. Heroin may become an option because it is cheaper. A horror story comes to life for the user, but it’s cheaper.

When your brain is screaming at you to feed the need, you don’t think about the horror that is the life of a heroin addict. You can only think about one thing.

Feed the need.

And that’s the worst mistake you can make.

A slippery slope

No matter how an addict finds their way to addiction, it can happen to anyone.

And, once an addict, there is a danger that one will remain an addict.

Addiction has a stigma attached to it that is hard to break through so that a person can break free.

An addict becomes a master at hiding the truth from themselves and those around them. Eventually, though, other people will figure it out even if the addict refuses to acknowledge they have a problem.

Predisposed or ill-prepared?

Believe it or not, that’s a 50-50 split. According to study after study, the statistics regarding addiction hold. Half of the time a person becomes addicted to drugs because it is in their DNA. The other half of the time, people turn to drugs because they feel drugs “help” them deal with uncomfortable emotions and situations.

For those that are genetically predisposed, their world will be a much better place if they are among those that choose never to take the risk of knowing that addiction is part of their makeup. Choosing not to drink or try drugs for the “fun” of it will eliminate the possibility of addiction.

Those that suffer from anxiety, or some other condition that causes them to self-medicate to cope with life, need to talk to someone about their feelings. It’s very empowering and is the first step toward conquering that giant.

Seriously.

Reach out to someone

If someone you know is an opiate addict, refuse to enable them. It’s hard to do. We have to get tough, though. There is no other choice.

Our friend, coworker, or loved one’s life is at stake.

Encourage them to seek help. It’s hard for us to say and harder for an addict to hear, but we have to speak up! Help them find treatment. If our lives entwine with the addicts, we must prepare to seek treatment ourselves.

Talking about addiction and sharing how it has affected our lives is the way to break the stigma. The stigma keeps people from seeking help. Instead of shining a false light on the “fun” that drugs and alcohol bring to our lives, talking brings awareness to the scourge of society that it is.

If you’re struggling with addiction, it’s critical to get professional help. There’s no shame in that, and it might save your life!