8807 members
Login

Yale Experts: 3 Major Myths About Opioid Addiction

-edited
Yale Medicine experts tackle the three major myths surrounding opioid addiction that work to keep people from seeking much needed help. (Image credit: Guian Bolisay/Flickr)

Yale Medicine experts discuss three major myths about opioid addiction that keep people from providing and seeking the best care possible.

It is no longer news that the U.S. faces an ongoing opioid addiction epidemic. Statistics and stories abound highlighting the scope of the crisis, but more can be done to address the issue.

Between 2015 and 2016, drug overdose deaths went from 33,095 to 59,000, the largest annual jump ever recorded in the United States. That number is expected to continue unabated for the next several years.

First and foremost, it is imperative to define "opioid use disorder":

Someone who is prescribed opioid medications for pain for prolonged periods may develop tolerance, which means they need a higher dose to get pain relief. Or they may experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking the medication. But these are not considered cases of opioid addiction. Opioid addiction, or technically “opioid use disorder,” is defined as loss of control over use of opioids. This means that the person continues to use opioids despite negative consequences or is unable to stop using opioids despite wanting to.

The 3 Major Myths

Opioid addiction is a sign of weak character:

"Some people think that an opioid addiction is just psychological or a weakness of character, and that people who are addicted simply don’t have the willpower to stop. But it’s more complicated than that. Long-time use of opioids in an addictive way actually alters brain functioning."

The best way to beat the addiction is without medication:

"Research shows that medication-based treatments are the most effective treatment. Opioid use disorder is a medical condition just like depression, diabetes or hypertension, and just like those conditions, it is most effectively treated with a combination of medication and counseling."

It's fine to call people "addicts", "junkies", or "users":

"Negative terms such as “addict”, “user”, “junkie”, and phrases such as “needs to get clean” contribute to stigma against people with opioid use disorder and create barriers to accessing effective treatment. This can ultimately contribute to overdose. When we talk about people with diabetes, we don’t talk about them being “dirty,” we talk about their sugars.

Studies have shown that people who were referred to as “substance users” were more likely to be considered a threat or be responsible for their condition, whereas people who were referred to as having “substance use disorder” were more likely to be seen as needing help. This is a really key component to getting people into treatment and stemming the opioid crisis. A person is not defined by their disease."

Opioid abuse is a very real thing and I do think that treatment is necessary for combating the growing crisis. But don't put those who's relief from pain can only be addressed thru pain management.

Don't lump them in with the abusers.

@SteveTracie-1 I will update this posting with the following excerpt to make clear the distinction you're referencing:

"It’s important to define opioid addiction carefully, because the stigma is so strong. Someone who is prescribed opioid medications for pain for prolonged periods may develop tolerance, which means they need a higher dose to get pain relief. Or they may experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking the medication. But these are not considered cases of opioid addiction.

Opioid addiction, or technically “opioid use disorder,” is defined as loss of control over use of opioids. This means that the person continues to use opioids despite negative consequences or is unable to stop using opioids despite wanting to."

Everything listed above follows this definition of opioid abuse. Thank you for bringing this to my attention.

I may be right in assuming that the real crisis is directly related to the black market. People who have tried say oxycodone and hydrocodone without a Dr's prescription may have liked how the medications can give you a boost of energy (in my case that would be with those meds I can still work close to what i could do pre-broken ankle and torn left biceps)
Without pain management I wouldn't be able to climb up and down ladders, lift heavy objects above my head or drag the welding leads and torch around. Failure to keep up with child support back pay I could go to prison. If my dr is pressured to drop my opiates I will have to find a way to make money, and I've never been a thief. But I would if that's what it took.

false