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What Are the Risk Factors for Opioid Addiction?

a woman sits leaning on her forearms looking afar thinking about the risk factors for opioid addiction

Opioids are one of the most commonly misused drugs in the country. For the last several decades, the United States has struggled with an opioid epidemic. Prescription opioids like OxyContin and Vicodin can lead to heroin and street fentanyl use. Unfortunately, opioids are highly addictive and dangerous. While many begin taking prescription opioids after surgery or injury, it’s important to understand the risk factors for opioid use and addiction.

If you or someone you love is struggling with opioid addiction, you are not alone. Quitting opioids cold turkey can be dangerous. The team at A Better State is here to help you with holistic, trauma-informed opioid addiction treatment. Call us at 781.412.1488 to learn more about the risk factors for opioid addiction and how our outpatient programs can help you recover.

3 Risk Factors for Opioid Abuse

Opioids work by changing a person’s brain chemistry. They slow down the brain’s processing speed and block pain receptors causing euphoric feelings and dulling pain. While they successfully dull or numb pain for several hours, the more often someone takes opioids, the more they will need them. This is called tolerance. The risk factors of opioid use can affect a person’s tolerance, quickly leading to addiction and overdose.

1. Chronic Stress

Stress affects every aspect of a person’s health, including pain receptors, metabolism, and mental health. Many people may take opioids for physical pain and continue taking them to self-soothe stress and reduce anxiety. Because opioids dull the nervous system, many people feel more relaxed or less concerned with reality. Unfortunately, when opioids wear off, the stress can return and worsen, leading many people to develop opioid addictions to escape stress.

2. Co-Occurring Mental Health Disorder

Today, at least half of people living with substance use have co-occurring mental health conditions such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Bipolar disorder

Like chronic stress, opioids can soothe symptoms of mental health conditions. Unfortunately, they can also worsen them more rapidly. This can lead many people to abuse opioids rather than seek mental health treatment. Because mental health conditions involve complex changes in brain chemistry, opioids can be more addictive for those with mood disorders.

3. Unprocessed Trauma

During life-threatening situations ranging from natural disasters to accidents, the brain releases chemicals to help the body survive. Once in a fight, flight, or freeze mode, the body either processes those chemicals or stores them as traumatic memory. Traumatic memories are easily reactivated, causing many people to live with PTSD and various physical, mental, and psychological symptoms that can be difficult to control or understand. Opioids can dull triggers and lessen the effects of unprocessed trauma. Unfortunately, when the drugs wear off, symptoms can return and worsen. Trauma-informed therapies and treatments are the safest, most effective ways to resolve unprocessed trauma.

These are the most common risk factors of opioid addiction or abuse. They are also widespread among people across the United States and here in New Hampshire. For many, opioids begin as a temporary band-aid for physical pain and become a crutch for psychological pain. The safest, most effective way to stop opioid abuse is through a treatment program.

Holistic Trauma-Informed Approaches to Opioid Addiction Treatment

Many things can cause opioid abuse. For some, an accident or injury can lead to a prescription for physical pain without addressing an event’s trauma or emotional pain. For treating opioid addiction, finding the root cause of drug abuse is essential for recovery. Dual-diagnosis treatment programs assess a client’s mental health and treat mental health and addiction at the same time. This can help uncover the root cause of opioid abuse while safely detoxing.

Because opioids profoundly affect the brain, medically assisted detox is a common approach to slowly ween the brain off opioids. Holistic, trauma-informed opioid addiction treatment looks at a person’s entire life, not just their addiction, to uncover and heal trauma, mental health conditions, and opioid use.

Get Help Identifying the Causes of Opioid Addiction at A Better State

Opioids are one of the most complex drugs to stop using. That’s why it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with the risk factors for opioid addiction to help yourself or a loved one.

A Better State is here to help. Our clinic provides a different kind of treatment geared toward the root cause of opioid addiction. With a range of outpatient programs, including evening intensive outpatient programs (IOPs), we have the program to fit your schedule. Our holistic, evidence-based therapies provide clients with the tools they need to heal and recover.

Contact us at 781.412.1488 to speak with our team today and learn more about risk factors for opioid addiction.