When people are in intense pain, doctors are likely to prescribe opioid painkillers. These painkillers can lessen pain and make someone feel great despite an injury, but the use of these painkillers comes with a risk: the development of painkiller addiction. Studies suggest nearly 8-12% of patients who receive opioid painkiller prescriptions develop opioid-use disorders. Therefore, it’s important to understand how these painkillers affect the mind before you or a loved one use them medicinally.
How Opioids Stop Pain
People typically take painkillers orally; once consumed, these drugs easily slip through the gastrointestinal tract and attach to opiate receptors in the brain. When these receptors are stimulated, the body creates dopamine at an accelerated rate. As a result, an individual’s “felt” pain will significantly decrease without eliminating its cause. With this in mind, we should think about opioids as “feel better” medications rather than “get better” medications. This is key to understanding how people become addicted to these drugs.
Why Opioids Are Addictive
Scientifically, dopamine is seen as a “pleasure and pursuit” hormone. Dopamine directly impacts the brain’s reward and pleasure centers; when someone does something that makes them feel good, the body naturally releases dopamine as a response. The release of dopamine trains the brain to pursue whatever action caused the release of dopamine in the first place.
Opioid painkillers create a tremendous amount of dopamine, and as a result, the body craves more painkillers. The ugly catch in this scenario is that prolonged opioid use decreases the brain’s ability to create dopamine: this is how opioid addiction occurs. As a result, some hardcore opiate users find they cannot feel right unless they are on drugs.
Holding Doctors Accountable
Unfortunately, the general population has an unclear understanding of how opioids affect the brain; doctors, on the other hand, have an excellent knowledge of how painkillers influence people. While these substances are incredibly powerful, doctors consistently prescribe these medications with little thought or concern for the patient’s long-term health.
We at The Simon Law Firm are fighting to hold doctors accountable for over-prescribing painkillers and causing addiction, poverty, and death in the lives of their patients. If you or a loved one have been a victim of the over-prescription of opioid medication, contact us to discuss your legal options.
Ready to make a stand? Call (314) 241-2929 now for a free consultation!