In Houston and all over the U.S., numerous families are experiencing the ravages of opiate addiction. Opiates can be prescribed legally or bought on the street, and even using opiates in the short-term can develop into a full-blown addiction that requires professional treatment. The Mayo Clinic explains how opiate addiction occurs and how to tell if your loved one is in need of help. 

Tolerance is at the heart of opioid addiction. A dose that brings about a pleasurable feeling in the beginning will no longer be sufficient, which means the person will need to increase their dosage. This happens because the tolerance for the drug has increased. As tolerance continues to increase, a person will need to continue upping the dosage just to feel normal. Additionally, many people are afraid of experiencing severe withdrawal effects, which prevents them from taking steps to stop their addiction.

There are certain risk factors that indicate someone is more likely to experience opioid addiction. For example, how you take the drugs play a key role in whether you become addicted. Snorting pills or injecting drugs introduces more of the substance to your body, which increases the chance of addiction. Taking too much of a prescribed opiate, or taking drugs frequently, also plays a role. Other risk factors include a previous history of drug abuse, mental health issues, being under a great deal of stress, and past legal problems like DUIs.

In terms of preventing addiction, people with chronic pain conditions should seek alternative therapies for their medical issues. Opioids are not considered beneficial to chronic pain sufferers given the high risk of addiction, but there are other medications and therapies available that can provide relief. If you’re prescribed opiates for a short-term period, such as after a surgery, be sure to take them according to your doctor’s instructions.