top of page

Tampa Bay Detox - Opiates

  1. Opiate Addictions and Dependency

  2. Opiate Withdrawal Syndrome

  3. Prescription Painkiller Addiction

  4. Opiate Treatment


Opiate Addictions and Dependency


Opiate addiction is recognized as a central nervous system disorder, caused by continuous opiate intake. After prolonged opiate use, the nerve cells in the brain, which would otherwise produce endogenous opiates (natural painkillers, or endorphins), cease to function normally. The body stops producing endorphins because it is receiving opiates instead. The degeneration of these nerve cells results in the user's physical dependency to an external supply of opiates. Abrupt or sudden abstinence from opiates induces yet another traumatic disorder - withdrawal syndrome.


Opiate Withdrawal Syndrome


The withdrawal syndrome is a long and painful process, which can result in permanent damage to the cardiopulmonary system and the central nervous system. Untreated and unmonitored, it can result in death for unhealthy patients. For these reasons, opiate dependency treatment requires appropriate and responsible medical care.


Prescription Painkiller Addiction


You suffer an injury in a car accident, or you have a simple slip and fall, or you lift a box awkwardly at work, or you strain a muscle while playing golf, tennis or working out at the gym. Or perhaps, you're recovering from surgery, cancer treatment or severe arthritis.

In any case, your physician is likely to prescribe a painkiller to help you manage the discomfort. Yet weeks or months later - long after the initial injury may have healed - you're still taking Vicodin, OxyContin or other opioid painkillers. In fact, with pain and discomfort becoming more frequent, you're taking an alarmingly higher dosage than you were in the beginning.

Unfortunately, the very drug that was supposed to help you is now hurting you. The pain of injury or the fear of medical treatment has been compounded by the painful discomfort of withdrawal. Rather than easing your pain, you are experiencing intensified pain levels. Patients suffering at pain levels of two or three often jump to levels of eight or nine after one year of painkiller usage.

This scenario is increasingly common. Today, approximately 75% of our patients suffer from a dependency to painkillers, whereas in years past dependencies to heroin were the most common. We recognize that many patients who are physically dependent on prescription pain killers as well as other opiates such as heroin became dependent through no fault of their own. Their dependence is a chemical imbalance that requires expert medical treatment in a safe, humane and effective environment.


Pain Management Traps


The underlying problem is not only the drug, but also the pain management specialists who often indiscriminately prescribe painkillers without considering the long-term effects of dependency. Focusing primarily on eliminating the symptom (pain), some physicians overlook the potential consequences (dependency).

Research indicates that every year nearly two million Americans use prescription opioid painkillers, and in some communities, abuse of prescription painkillers has overtaken cocaine and marijuana use. The 1999 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (NHSDA) showed that approximately 9% of the U.S. population has used pain relievers illegally in their lifetime. An estimated 1.6 million Americans used prescription-type pain relievers non-medically for the first time in 1998. This represents a significant increase since the 1980s, when there were generally fewer than 500,000 new users per year.

Among youth ages 12-17, the incidence rate increased from 6.3 per 1,000 potential new users in 1990 to 32.4 per 1,000 potential new users in 1998. For young adults age 18-25, there was also an increase in the rate of first use between 1990 and 1998 (from 7.7 to 20.3 per 1,000 potential new users).


Opiate Treatment


See Buprenex


Steven Schweinshaupt, MD

bottom of page