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12 Risk Factors for Opioid Addiction

by General Marketing

It’s more important than ever to understand the potential dangers of opioid use. Why? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the United States is in the midst of an opioid epidemic. Knowing when opioid overdose risk is the greatest and which treatment approaches are most effective can help you or a loved one avoid or recover from opioid addiction. 

Studies have found that many factors increase the risk of opioid dependence among patients taking prescription painkillers. For example, pain impairment, psychotropic medication, depression and age — when present together — increased the risk of opioid dependence eight-fold. 

Genetic, Environmental and Psychological Factors Can Play a Role in Opioid Addiction 

Other research points to the fact that genetic, environmental and psychological factors play a role in opioid addiction. Addiction to opioids can happen suddenly or after many years of use. Known risk factors for opioid addiction include:

  1. Stress
  2. Prior alcohol or drug rehabilitation
  3. Heavy tobacco use
  4. History of anxiety or severe depression
  5. Young age
  6. Poverty
  7. Unemployment
  8. Personal or family history of substance abuse
  9. History of criminal activity or legal problems including driving under the influence (DUI)
  10. Thrill-seeking behavior
  11. Issues with past employers, friends or family members
  12. Regular contact with high-risk environments or people

What Leads to Opioid Addiction? 

While your personal history and the length of time you use opioids contribute to your likelihood of developing an opioid addiction, it is not possible to predict who’s susceptible to opioid abuse. For example, opioid pain relievers are generally safe when taken as prescribed and for a short period. However, the feelings of euphoria opioids create can lead to misuse. 

Opioids can make your brain and body believe you need the drug to survive. They can also alter the brain by creating artificial endorphins — hormones that make you feel good and block pain. Prolonged use of opioids or taking too much can eventually cause your brain to rely on these endorphins and even stop producing its own. The likelihood of opioid addiction increases over time, and the need for opioids may also go up due to drug tolerance. 

Opioid addiction takes hold of our brains in numerous ways — for this reason, identifying things that cause opioid addiction can be complex. 

How to Avoid an Opioid Addiction 

If you are worried about becoming addicted to opioids, talk about your concerns with a medical professional. 

Actions you can take to avoid opioid addiction include:

  • Talk to your doctor about pain relief alternatives. 
  • Take opioid medication ONLY as directed.
  • Do not take opioids with alcohol.
  • Avoid opioids if you have a history of addiction. 
  • Only take opioids for as long as necessary or prescribed. 
  • Follow all prescription guidelines.
  • Do not crush pills or take them in a way other than as intended.
  • Make sure you know the signs of an opioid overdose.
  • Follow up with your physician as directed.
  • Ask your pharmacist about other drugs that may interact with your opioid prescription. 

Contact Your Local Health Care Resource Centers Location (HCRC)

For over 25 years, HCRC has used medication-assisted treatment, or MAT, to help those in recovery for opioid use disorder. With the use of MAT medications such as methadone and buprenorphine, our team of nurse practitioners and doctors help patients gently eliminate physical cravings. This way, patients can participate in counseling and behavioral therapy that address the underlying causes of addiction. 

Contact us by calling (866) 758-7769 or find a New England HCRC clinic near you today

Medically Reviewed By:

Health Care Resource Centers Clinical Team

Health Care Resource Centers Clinical Team

Health Care Resource Centers Clinical Team

The Clinical Team at Health Care Resource Centers is our team of physicians and medical directors within the organization. HCRC is a CARF accredited organization and has been providing addiction treatment services for over 32 years in the New England area.

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