General Question

Dig_Dug's avatar

How do people get addicted to opioids?

Asked by Dig_Dug (4249points) February 26th, 2023

I honestly wonder, because I’ve been on them before and never found them to be addictive in any way. I’ve been on: oxycodone(oxycontin), hydrocodone(vicodin), codeine, morphine, hydromorphone (Dilaudid), oxycodone and acetaminophen (Percocet), plus a morphine pump with “break through” morphine” I.V. boost. and I.V. tylenol (which is much stronger than regular tylenol and not an opioid) and probably a few others that I’ve forgotten.

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26 Answers

JLeslie's avatar

I think some people have a genetic propensity to get addicted. Plus, maybe you weren’t on the drugs long enough, although some people seem to get addicted very fast.

The belief now is that these drugs create more pain. The medication does something to the nervous system, so the person feels more pain and needs more medication to try to dull the pain. Years ago they used to say that people built a tolerance, that is slightly different. Some addicts say that to feel normal they need the drugs once they are addicted.

Withdrawal sucks, so once you are physically addicted you try to avoid withdrawal.

I have been given Fentanyl (amazing drug) Tramadol, codeine, and morphine (I am allergic to morphine) and I never got addicted either, never felt any withdrawal, but I never took any of them vey long. Half the time when I am prescribed Opioids I don’t fill the prescription.

I took Xanax (anti-anxiety bensodiazepine) for 6 weeks and it was amazing at reducing the acute anxiety I was going through, and I can understand how people get addicted. I stopped on purpose, because I knew it was a very addictive drug. I felt better taking it, and I did keep some with me and take it once in a while for a few more months. I probably would have benefitted taking it a few weeks longer than six weeks in one way, but maybe have become more addicted and harder to stop. Who knows. I was on a very low dose, and when I began to lower my dose I did have increased anxiety again. Popping another pill would have felt much better, except for my fear of addiction.

Dig_Dug's avatar

I appreciate this @JLeslie I still have some Tramadol (I forgot that one) and a couple others that just sit in their bottles in a drawer and I’ll never use them. Most of these really do little for pain except morphine, but that also makes me sick to my stomach and makes me feel hot.

Jeruba's avatar

Someone in my family uses fentanyl. I asked him how long had he been using before he was totally hooked. He said he was hooked the first time. Apparently the pain of withdrawal was just too, too much. Trying to do it on your own and not under medical supervision is pretty likely to fail. All the more so if you really don’t want to stop, which is the case with some people.

raum's avatar

Stress, trauma, mental health, and genetic predisposition.

Technically, their mesolimbic dopamine pathway.

SergeantQueen's avatar

The same way people get addicted to literally anything else.

The way they feel on the substance is better than how they feel sober.

gondwanalon's avatar

People have one thing in common. We all want to feel good. Some people can tolerate pain (up to a point) better than other people. Some people can’t handle any pain.

Then factor in genetic susceptibility to addiction and easy access to drugs and it’s not hard to see why so many people get hooked.

JLeslie's avatar

@Jeruba I’ve heard before that people have become hooked on Fentanyl the first time. I always wonder if that person was already addicted to something else before trying the Fentanyl. I wrote above Fentanyl was an amazing drug, and I can see how an addict would try it once and want it again.

KNOWITALL's avatar

In my experience, a doctor prescribes, then you get used to the dosage so they give you more to help. Then before you know it you’re taking a daily high dose that becomes addicting, with chronic pain. It’s a sad cycle.

MrGrimm888's avatar

Receptors in the human brain, combined with genetic predisposition.

gorillapaws's avatar

I went through a week’s worth of Codine in a weekend when I had my wisdom teeth out in high school. It was the best feeling in the world. I’m terrified of opiates. My friend’s brother-in-law had an injury and was prescribed opiates for a while, when they finally cut him off and his last script ran out, he got them on the street, when he wasn’t able to afford those, he started using Heroin… It’s a real thing.

KNOWITALL's avatar

Any time we address opioids, I feel the need to remind people that the epidemic is so bad, elderly patients are being denied pain relief as they age, here at least.
That’s part of the reason our state legalized medical and recreational mj.

JLeslie's avatar

@gorillapaws Wow, right there is the difference. I used to take codiene cough medicine and it never felt like much of anything to me. Maybe your dose was higher but still, I didn’t have any sort of “feeling” from it that I would want to take it ongoing. When my wisdom teeth were removed they prescribed some sort of narcotic, but I just took ibuprofen.

NoMore's avatar

And Big Pharma continues raking in the bucks.

flutherother's avatar

People get addicted to opioids in different ways but the opioid epidemic in the US is down to the over prescription of opioid painkillers by doctors. I don’t blame the doctors entirely, they are caught between the big drug companies and the demands of their patients many of whom would simply go elsewhere if their doctor wouldn’t prescribe what they wanted.

rockfan's avatar

This question is kind of like asking “Why do people become alcoholics? I drink beer all the time.”

JLeslie's avatar

I blame the doctors a lot, because they seemed stupid enough to believe narcotics aren’t addictive if the patient is in pain and they over-prescribed when it was completely unnecessary. I’m talking after surgeries or while healing from an injury, but a chronic condition.

I don’t mean it’s all doctors, but how was it not obvious people were becoming addicted?

I’m completely fine with pain killers when necessary and fine with terminal patients getting addicted, and many other circumstances, I’m not a no pain killers for anyone person. I just don’t see how doctors were prescribing 30 days of drugs for someone who probably needed them for 7 or less.

Dig_Dug's avatar

I think I’m a little jealous of others that have a very easy reaction to pain medications. I’ve been in tremendous pain before that many others would have probably jumped out of a window if they had endured what I did. Now I’m NOT bragging, please don’t assume that! I have been in so much pain that one time I couldn’t even sleep for 144 hours straight! Yes 6 full days. Talk about a living nightmare. Nothing helped, morphine was like ..meh! just made me nauseous. Pain meds don’t work on me. I guess I should try meth or heroine!

Blackwater_Park's avatar

I hate the feeling of them. I will have to be in serious pain before I take one. I have been on them after knee surgery and other things like that. I hate the itchy feeling, the dullness… all of it. I don’t think I’m prone to getting hooked. My cousin on the other hand, they ruined his life and he has never been able to get free of them, even after multiple, multi-year stints in prison for things he did to get them. I think he lost the gene lottery for that.

LuckyGuy's avatar

When I take an opioid I am pretty much guaranteed a 2 or 3 day case of constipation. Bleeech!

Dig_Dug's avatar

^^ Yeah there’s that too, not so much fun :(

MrGrimm888's avatar

@LuckyGuy . Bro. You have to balance yourself.
If you’re ever on opioids, eat WaffleHouse. Order a shit-ton of eggs, bacon, grits, and get the hashbrowns with chilli, cheese, tomatoes, onions and extra jalapeños. And a Diet Coke. (Watch your calories!)

You’re going to want to drink a few cups of candle wax before, and grab some Charmin and popsicles, for after…
The Charmin, is a no brainer.
The popsicles… You’ll know what to do, when the time comes. Judging by the restrooms at ALL WaffleHouses, you can do some recon there…
Godspeed my friend….

Dig_Dug's avatar

OMG! This took me a minute to process what you were talking about. I finally realized why the popsicles for after and ..I blew coffee out my nose! lol!

MrGrimm888's avatar

^Yup…. Life, is gross….

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