Skip to content
3 min read

Why Are Opioids So Addictive?

Why are opioids so addictive? How do people become addicted to them? There are many reasons people become addicted to drugs.

The opioid epidemic has caused many social issues for people in the past twenty years. In the late 1990s, drugs like Percocet and Oxycontin became available and were used for everything from severe acute pain to dental surgeries. Doctors first believed that these potent painkillers were not addictive. (It turns out that drug manufacturers' and distributors' marketing departments had fooled them.)

Opioids like heroin are some of the most addictive drugs in the world. Many people who abuse opioids are first exposed to them via prescription drugs. Other people are exposed to them at parties or take them from a relative’s medicine cabinet. Opioid use disorder does not discriminate; people from all walks of life have had problems with opioids.

How Do People Become Addicted to Opioids?

Opioids are highly addictive because they help people avoid physical pain and emotional pain as well.

Nobody uses opioids intending to become addicted. For many people, opioids are the first drug that they have abused. Some people get them by prescription for short-term pain end up either abusing them or becoming addicted to them. When their prescription runs out, they may go back to the doctor to lobby for more or they may try other methods, like buying them on the street or online.

There’s no one singular reason a person becomes addicted to opioids. Some people are more vulnerable to drug abuse and addiction. People who have lived through trauma such as abuse or domestic violence are more likely to abuse drugs, including opioids.

People prescribed opioids usually have access to the drug, at least at first. For some, the drug becomes a way to feel relaxed.

Opioids Are Highly Addictive

Opioids work by blocking pain receptors in the brain. At the same time, most users describe a feeling of elation or peace while they are high, both of which are pleasant to them.

When a person abuses opioids, their body becomes used to getting a steady supply of the drug to maintain this feeling. This leads to withdrawal symptoms. A person who uses opioids knows that they want to avoid painful and scary withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, bone pain, fevers, shivers, etc. Because of these symptoms, a person with a substance use disorder goes out of their way to never run out of their drug of choice again.

Opioids are addictive and also can be deadly. Drugs like Oxycontin that are sold on the street often contain adulterants, such as fentanyl. Many users have no tolerance to a drug like fentanyl, which is roughly 50-100 times as potent as Morphine. Fentanyl is the top overdose drug nationwide, and it is often due to users ingesting a drug tainted with it.

Getting Help for Addiction

Addiction, also called substance use disorder, is a disease. Treatment can help you get free from the pain of addiction and transform yourself into the person you want to be. We can help you get sober and start your journey to recovery. We offer a serene, private, safe environment where you will begin to start healing and building a foundation in recovery. Please call us at US (949) 279-1376 • MX (612) 153-5726 to learn more about how we can help.



Read Full Bio
Hi! I’m Melissa Stailey, a freelance writer that loves to cook. I live and work in Washington, DC.