Opioid addiction can come on slowly over time. It can start quietly, maybe with a doctor’s prescription for pain or a pill offered by a friend. But before you know it, the pills can take over a person’s happiness, health, and hope.
Opioid addiction is an epidemic rapidly growing across the entire world, not just for adults but for teens and families as well. It’s even tougher when it co-exists with other mental health conditions, such as anxiety or depression.
This isn’t a journey anyone should walk alone. Let’s talk about the link between opioid addiction and mental health and what we can do about it.
What is Opioid Addiction?
Opioids are a type of medicine that can help with pain but can also make you feel really relaxed or even high. Opioid addiction is when a person can’t stop taking opioids, even when they cause harm or trouble in their life.
It’s not about having a strong will. Opioids change the brain in ways that make quitting tough without help.
How Mental Health Can Contribute to Opioid Addiction
Some people feel so down or worried that they would do almost anything to feel better. If someone has a mental health condition, like depression or anxiety, they might start using opioids to feel less pain.
While they may feel good at first, the sensation is only a temporary fix. It might hide the pain for a bit, but it doesn’t solve the real problem. If the real issue isn’t treated, it can turn into its own big problem: addiction.
How Opioid Addiction Can Make Mental Health Issues Worse
You might think that opioids can make the pain go away, but they can actually make things worse. When someone relies on opioids, their mental health issues can get bigger.
Opioid addiction can add more problems like feeling guilty, losing friends, or having trouble at school or work. It’s a tough cycle because the worse you feel, the more you might want to use opioids to escape. And that keeps the cycle going.
Key Factors That Contribute to the Link Between Opioid Addiction & Mental Health
Pain Management and Self-Medication
When people hurt, they look for ways to stop the pain. Doctors often give medicine for pain after things like surgeries or injuries. These medicines are often opioids.
Unfortunately, when the bottle runs out, the pain might still be there. Some people might take more pills than the doctor instructed, or they’ll look for other ways to get more. This is called self-medication, and it can start an addiction.
When a person has two physical or mental health problems at once, it’s known as a co-occurring disorder. For example, they might have depression and also get hooked on opioids.
Both disorders affect similar parts of the brain. When someone has a co-occurring disorder, both the addiction and the mental health issue need care at the same time.
Neurobiological and Psychological Factors
Our brains are the complex command centers for our bodies. Opioids mess with the brain’s wiring and can trick it into thinking it needs the drug to feel okay.
How we think and feel about ourselves can play a big part. If someone feels bad about themselves, they might turn to opioids to feel better.
But the brain can get used to the drugs and then the person needs more to get the same good feeling. It’s a tough battle, but understanding these factors is the first step in fighting back.
Treatment Path to Recovery from Opioid Addiction
Dual Diagnosis Treatment
When doctors find out that a person is addicted to opioids and they also have a mental health issue, they’re given a dual diagnosis. Treating both together is critical, as the addiction won’t likely resolve itself without treating the mental health condition.
Everything needs to be fixed for the body and mind to function properly. This kind of treatment helps the person fight addiction while also dealing with mental health concerns.
Therapy and Counseling
Talking helps. Meeting with a therapist can help a person understand why they started using opioids. Therapists can teach ways to cope without needing drugs.
There are many different types of therapy, including group therapy and one-on-one therapy. Such therapies can help people find new ways to deal with life’s ups and downs.
Medication Assisted Treatment
On occasion, the body needs a little help to stop being addicted. Doctors can give special medicines that make it easier to quit opioids. These aren’t like the opioids that caused the problem; they help calm the brain’s craving for drugs and can make withdrawal easier.
It’s like using training wheels when learning to ride a bike. Eventually, you won’t need them. But they help at the start.
Inpatient and Outpatient Rehab
Rehab is where people go to focus on getting better.
Inpatient rehab means they stay at the rehab facility for a while. Outpatient means they live at home but go to the facility for treatment.
Both types of treatment help people learn how to live without opioids. They offer support, teach healthy habits, and help people build a new life.
Get Treatment for Mental Health Conditions and Opioid Addiction
Dealing with a mental health condition and opioid addiction at the same time is immensely difficult. You can’t just ignore one and hope the other gets better.
When the mind starts to heal, the hold that addiction has starts to loosen. This means going to all the therapy sessions, taking any medicines the right way, and really working hard to get better. It’s a journey, but people don’t have to walk it alone.
Here at OC Specialty Health & Hospitals, we only treat opioid addiction when there is a co-existing mental health condition. We do not treat opioid addiction alone. That way, we can treat both problems and help you overcome them at the same time.
Healing Opioid Addiction and Mental Health Concerns
Finding the way back from an opioid addiction and a mental health condition is tough but possible. It’s a journey that takes courage, help, and the right treatment. If you or a loved one is struggling with opioid addiction and mental health, OC Specialty Health & Hospitals can help. Learn more about how we can help by reaching out to Aliso Ridge Behavioral Health or Anaheim Community Hospital today!