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Opiate Addiction Treatment Center Orange County California

More than 10 million Americans (aged 12 and above) use and abuse opiates yearly. That number is only growing. Understanding the effects of opiates is crucial to using them properly.

What are Opiates?

Opiates are drugs created from the opium plant. When taken, opiates can affect and change your brain’s reactions. Most times, opiates focus on relieving pain. Opiates have been used as painkillers for decades. However, this is only done with a doctor’s prescription because of its addictiveness. Heroin which is an illegal substance is also a type of opiate.

What’s the Difference Between Opioids and Opiates?

Opioids and opiates are interchangeably used. While this is not entirely wrong, there is a difference between opiates and opioids. Opiates are gotten directly from the opium plant with its ingredients present. Examples of opiates are codeine and morphine. On the other hand, opioids are manufactured products that have similar effects to opiates. Opioids can be fully or partially synthetic.

Street Names

Here are some street names for opiates:

  1. Heroin:

    • Smack
    • Junk
    • Horse
    • Brown
    • Skag
    • China White
    • Dope
    • Black Tar
  2. Prescription Opioids:

    • OxyContin: Oxy, OC, Ox, OxyCotton, Hillbilly Heroin
    • Hydrocodone: Vikes, Watsons, Norco
    • Codeine: Captain Cody, Cody, Schoolboy
    • Morphine: M, Miss Emma, Monkey
    • Fentanyl: China White, Apache, Tango & Cash
  3. Opium:

    • Big O
    • Aunti
    • Zero
  4. Synthetic Opioids (Fentanyl):

    • Apache
    • China Girl
    • Murder 8
    • China White


  1. Opioid Overdose Deaths:

    • Opioid overdose deaths have been a significant public health concern. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 100,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in the 12-month period ending in April 2021. Opioids, including prescription opioids, heroin, and synthetic opioids like fentanyl, were major contributors.
  2. Prescription Opioids:

    • The misuse of prescription opioids has been a key factor in the opioid epidemic. In 2019, about 9.7 million Americans aged 12 or older reported misusing prescription pain relievers in the past year, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
  3. Heroin Use:

    • Heroin use is associated with opioid addiction. In 2019, about 745,000 Americans aged 12 or older reported using heroin in the past year, as per SAMHSA.
  4. Synthetic Opioids (Fentanyl):

    • Synthetic opioids, particularly fentanyl, have contributed significantly to the rise in opioid-related deaths. The CDC reported a substantial increase in synthetic opioid-involved overdose deaths.
    • Fentanyl is often involved in polydrug use, and its presence in non-opioid drugs has been a growing concern.
  5. Opioid Use Disorder Treatment:

    • Many individuals seek treatment for opioid use disorder. According to SAMHSA’s Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS), opioid-related admissions accounted for a significant portion of substance use disorder treatment admissions.
  6. Naloxone Administration:

    • Naloxone, a medication that can rapidly reverse opioid overdose, is increasingly used by emergency responders and community members to prevent overdose deaths.
  7. Prescription Monitoring Programs (PMPs):

    • Many jurisdictions have implemented Prescription Monitoring Programs to monitor and regulate the prescribing of opioids to help curb misuse.

Clinically Reviewed by: Charee Marquez, LMFT

Popular Types of Opiates

There are three recognized types of bipolar disorder. They are:


Morphine treats severe pain. It is one of the strongest painkillers and is commonly used in America. The downside is that it is also very addictive. An overdose of morphine can even lead to death.


Codeine treats coughing and mild pain. Codeine is less dangerous than other opiates. This makes it more readily available OTC. It can also be prescribed by the doctor.

So, while it is less dangerous, its accessibility increases the chances of getting addicted. Codeine is popular among youths.


Fentanyl is only used to treat intense or severe pain. It is much more dangerous than morphine. Because of its potency, fentanyl should not be mixed with other drugs such as heroin.


Demerol which is also meperidine is used to treat moderate pain and can be very addictive. It should only be taken with a doctor’s prescription.


Methadone treats mild to moderate pain. It can also reverse or reduce cravings for other illicit drugs such as heroin.

When taken regularly, methadone is very addictive. This drug should only be taken with a doctor’s prescription.


Oxycodone treats moderate pain. Popular brand names for oxycodone are Percocet and OxyContin

Other types of opiates include

  • Hydrocodone
  • Dilaudid
  • Darvocet

What is Opiate Abuse or Addiction?

Opiate addiction is a complex condition characterized by the inability to function properly without opiates. The journey from initial intake to full-blown addiction involves various stages and dynamics. Let’s delve into the informative details:

  • Onset and Prescription:

    • Addiction or abuse often commences with the first intake of opiates, commonly prescribed by a doctor.
    • The prescription is typically intended to address pain or manage certain medical conditions.
  • Diminished Effect Over Time:

    • Prolonged use of opiates may result in users no longer experiencing the desired effects of the drugs.
    • This diminishing effect is particularly frustrating, especially considering opiates’ primary function in pain management.
  • Escalation of Dosage:

    • In an attempt to regain the initial relief, users may resort to taking a higher dosage than prescribed by their doctor.
    • The immediate effect provides temporary relief, but the body begins to build resistance to the drug.
  • Cycle of Increased Dosage:

    • As resistance builds, users may find themselves trapped in a cycle of escalating dosage to achieve the desired feeling repeatedly.
    • This cycle is indicative of the body’s increasing tolerance to opiates.
  • Dependency and Cravings:

    • The user gradually becomes dependent on the drugs to experience a sense of well-being.
    • Full addiction sets in when the individual finds it challenging to quit using opiates due to intense cravings.

Understanding the progression of opiate addiction highlights the critical importance of early intervention and comprehensive treatment strategies.

What Causes Opiate Abuse?

Opiate addiction is a complex condition influenced by a combination of biological, environmental, psychological, and social factors. Understanding the various causes can contribute to the development of effective prevention and intervention strategies. Here are key factors that may contribute to opiate addiction:

Biological Factors:

  1. Genetic Predisposition: Individuals with a family history of substance abuse may be more genetically vulnerable to opiate addiction.
  2. Neurobiological Factors: Changes in the brain’s reward and pleasure pathways, involving neurotransmitters like dopamine, can contribute to addiction.

Environmental Factors:

  1. Early Exposure: Exposure to opiates at a young age, whether through prescription medications or other means, can increase the risk of addiction.
  2. Access to Opiates: Easy access to prescription opiates or illegal opioids in the community can contribute to substance abuse.
  3. Peer Influence: Pressure from friends or social circles engaging in opiate use can influence individuals to experiment with these substances.
  4. Trauma and Stress: Experiencing trauma, stress, or adverse life events can be a contributing factor, as individuals may turn to opiates as a coping mechanism.

Psychological Factors:

  1. Mental Health Disorders: Conditions such as depression, anxiety, or trauma-related disorders can co-occur with opiate addiction, leading to self-medication.
  2. Personality Traits: Certain personality traits, such as impulsivity or sensation-seeking, may increase the likelihood of opiate experimentation.

Social and Cultural Factors:

  1. Cultural Attitudes: Societal attitudes towards substance use, including opiates, can influence an individual’s behavior.
  2. Stigma and Discrimination: Negative perceptions and stigma associated with seeking help for mental health or addiction issues may deter individuals from getting assistance.

Prescription Opiate Use:

  1. Medical Prescriptions: Legitimate use of prescription opiates for pain management can sometimes lead to dependence and addiction if not carefully monitored.
  2. Overprescribing: The overprescribing of opioid medications by healthcare professionals can contribute to the availability of these substances.

Polydrug Use:

  1. Combining Substances: Concurrent use of opiates with other substances, such as alcohol or benzodiazepines, can increase the risk of addiction and adverse effects.

Lack of Education and Awareness:

  1. Misinformation: Lack of education about the risks associated with opiate use and addiction may contribute to experimentation, especially among younger individuals.

It’s important to note that addiction is a complex and individualized experience, and not everyone exposed to risk factors will develop opiate addiction. Prevention and treatment strategies should address these various factors comprehensively, taking into account the unique circumstances of each individual.

Who is at Risk of Opiate Addiction?

  • Age – Younger people are more likely to abuse opiates
  • Poverty
  • Family History – People with close relatives who abuse opiates are more likely to do the same
  • History of Abusing other substance – If you abuse other meds or illicit substances, you have a greater chance of abusing opiates.
  • People who display reckless or impulsive behavior
  • Unemployment issues
  • Gender – Women are more likely to abuse opiates than their male counterparts. This is because women are more likely to develop chronic pain. This increases the odds of using opiates

Here are some common side effects:

Physical Side Effects:

  1. Tolerance: The need for increasing amounts of opiates to achieve the desired effect, indicating the body’s adaptation to the drug.

  2. Dependency: The body becomes reliant on opiates to function normally, leading to withdrawal symptoms if the drug is not consumed.

  3. Constipation: Opiates can slow down the digestive system, resulting in chronic constipation.

  4. Respiratory Depression: Opiates can suppress the respiratory system, leading to slowed or shallow breathing.

  5. Nausea and Vomiting: Opiate use can cause persistent nausea and vomiting.

  6. Itching: Users may experience intense itching, often referred to as pruritus.

  7. Physical Weakness: Opiate addiction can lead to physical weakness and fatigue.

  8. Weight Loss: Loss of appetite and neglect of nutritional needs can contribute to weight loss.

  9. Hormonal Imbalances: Opiate use may disrupt hormonal balances, affecting reproductive health.

Mental and Emotional Side Effects:

  1. Mood Swings: Opiate addiction can contribute to unpredictable mood swings.

  2. Depression: Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and despair are common among individuals struggling with opiate addiction.

  3. Anxiety: Opiate withdrawal and the cyclical nature of addiction can induce anxiety.

  4. Cognitive Impairment: Opiate use can affect cognitive functions, including memory and concentration.

  5. Isolation: Individuals may withdraw from social activities and isolate themselves.

  6. Impaired Judgment: Opiate use can impair decision-making and judgment.

  7. Increased Risk of Mental Health Disorders: Opiate addiction is often associated with an increased risk of developing or exacerbating mental health disorders.

Social and Behavioral Side Effects:

  1. Financial Strain: Supporting the habit can lead to financial difficulties.

  2. Legal Issues: Illicit drug use can result in legal problems and consequences.

  3. Strained Relationships: Opiate addiction can strain relationships with family, friends, and colleagues.

  4. Occupational Problems: Difficulties at work, including absenteeism and decreased productivity.

  5. Risk of Overdose: Opiate addiction significantly increases the risk of overdose, which can be fatal.

  6. Engagement in Risky Behaviors: Individuals may engage in risky behaviors to obtain drugs.

Symptoms of Opiates Overdose

  • Opiate overdose is a medical emergency that requires immediate attention. Recognizing the symptoms of an opiate overdose is crucial for seeking prompt medical assistance. Symptoms can vary in severity, and they may include:

    1. Extreme Drowsiness or Unresponsiveness:

      • Individuals experiencing an opiate overdose may be extremely drowsy, lethargic, or unresponsive to stimuli.
    2. Slow or Shallow Breathing:

      • Opiates can suppress the respiratory system, leading to slow or shallow breathing. In severe cases, breathing may stop altogether.
    3. Pinpoint Pupils:

      • Constricted or pinpoint pupils (miosis) are a common sign of opiate overdose. The pupils appear significantly smaller than usual.
    4. Loss of Consciousness:

      • Loss of consciousness or inability to stay awake is a concerning symptom of opiate overdose.
    5. Cold or Clammy Skin:

      • Skin may become cold, clammy, and pale due to reduced blood circulation.
    6. Blue or Purple Lips and Fingernails:

      • Cyanosis, indicated by bluish or purple discoloration of the lips and fingernails, suggests a lack of oxygen.
    7. Vomiting:

      • Some individuals experiencing an opiate overdose may vomit, which can pose a risk of choking.
    8. Gurgling or Snoring Sounds:

      • Gurgling or snoring sounds may occur due to impaired airway function.
    9. Weak Pulse:

      • A weak or irregular pulse may be present as a result of cardiovascular depression.
    10. Inability to Wake Up:

      • Individuals may be difficult to rouse or wake up, even with vigorous stimulation.

    It’s important to note that an opiate overdose can be life-threatening, and immediate action is essential. If you suspect someone is experiencing an overdose, call emergency services (911 in the United States) right away. In some cases, administering naloxone (Narcan), an opioid antagonist, can reverse the effects of the overdose temporarily. Naloxone is available in the form of a nasal spray or injection.

    Remember that time is critical in responding to an opiate overdose, and seeking professional medical help is paramount for the individual’s safety and well-being.

Short and Long-Term Effects of Abusing Opiates

Abusing opiates can have both short and long-term effects

Short Term Effects
  • Impaired judgments
  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Blurred vision
  • Euphoric feeling
  • Weight loss
  • Hallucinations
  • Shallow breathing
  • Itchiness
Long Term Effects
  • Persisting insomnia
  • Liver problems
  • Depression
  • Recurring constipation
  • Addiction
  • Vein damage

How is Opiates Addiction Diagnosed?

Diagnosis is usually made by a doctor or mental health expert. Your doctor might ask you questions relating to symptoms and dosage.

Blood and urine tests are also taken to rule out other physical conditions. These tests also allow them to see the drugs in your bloodstream.

All guidelines in the DSM-5 are strictly followed.

Opiates Addiction Treatment

Comprehensive Opiates Addiction Treatment Process

Detoxing: Taking the First Step towards Recovery

Detoxification is the initial and crucial step for individuals struggling with opiate addiction. It involves stopping the use of opiates and removing all traces of these drugs from the body. This process, known as detoxing, is essential for breaking the cycle of dependence, but it comes with its challenges.

  • Duration of Detoxing: The detoxing process typically spans 3-7 days, although the duration may vary based on the severity of the addiction. Some healthcare providers may opt for the tapering-off method, gradually reducing drug intake instead of an abrupt cessation.

  • Withdrawal Symptoms: Patients often experience withdrawal symptoms post-detox, which can be severe during the initial days and persist for months or even years. These symptoms encompass a range of physical and psychological manifestations, including:

    • Runny nose
    • Muscle spasms
    • Tremors
    • Constricted pupils
    • Nausea
    • Agitation/restlessness
    • Anxiety
    • Sweating
    • Depression

Medications to Ease Withdrawal and Prevent Relapse

Certain medications play a crucial role in mitigating the impact of withdrawal symptoms and reducing the likelihood of relapse.

  • Methadone: Often used in severe cases of addiction, methadone fights against dependence and aids in managing withdrawal. However, in recent times, many healthcare professionals prefer the use of buprenorphine due to its advantages.

  • Buprenorphine: This medication works by mimicking the effects of opiates, thereby alleviating withdrawal symptoms. Its effectiveness in preventing relapse makes it a preferred choice for many healthcare providers.

  • Clonidine: Addressing symptoms like anxiety and agitation, Clonidine is effective in withdrawal management. Unlike buprenorphine, it does not mimic the euphoric effects of opiates.

Some Treatment Options Include

Most doctors recommend inpatient rehab centers after the detox program.

  1. Inpatient Rehabilitation:

    • Inpatient rehabilitation, also known as residential treatment, involves individuals residing within a treatment facility for a specified duration. This structured environment provides intensive care and support.
  2. Outpatient Programs:

    • Outpatient programs offer flexibility, allowing individuals to receive treatment while continuing their daily lives. They attend therapy sessions, counseling, and other interventions on a scheduled basis.
  3. Detoxification (Detox):

    • Detox is the initial phase of treatment, focusing on safely and systematically removing substances from the body. It is often conducted under medical supervision to manage withdrawal symptoms.
  4. Therapy and Counseling:

    • Various therapeutic modalities, including individual counseling, group therapy, and family therapy, are crucial components of addiction and mental health treatment. These sessions help individuals explore and address underlying issues.
  5. Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT):

    • MAT involves the use of medications, in conjunction with counseling and behavioral therapies, to address substance use disorders. It is particularly effective for opioid and alcohol addictions.
  6. Dual Diagnosis Treatment:

    • Dual Diagnosis Treatment addresses co-occurring mental health disorders alongside substance use disorders. It involves integrated interventions to holistically address both aspects of an individual’s well-being.
  7. Holistic Therapies:

    • Holistic approaches incorporate alternative therapies such as yoga, meditation, art therapy, and mindfulness. These practices aim to promote overall well-being and support recovery.
  8. Support Groups:

    • Support groups, like those following the 12-step model (e.g., Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous), provide a community for individuals to share experiences, seek guidance, and foster mutual support.
  9. Sober Living Homes:

    • Sober living homes offer a transitional and supportive environment for individuals in recovery. They provide a structured living arrangement to reinforce sobriety.
  10. Mental Health Treatment:

    • Mental health treatment specifically addresses psychiatric conditions. It may involve therapy, medication management, and other interventions to enhance emotional well-being.
  11. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT):

    • CBT is a goal-oriented therapeutic approach that focuses on identifying and changing negative thought patterns and behaviors. It is effective for both addiction and mental health concerns.
  12. Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT):

    • DBT combines cognitive-behavioral techniques with concepts of acceptance and mindfulness. It is particularly beneficial for individuals with emotional dysregulation.
  13. Motivational Interviewing (MI):

    • MI is a client-centered counseling style aimed at eliciting behavior change by helping individuals explore and resolve ambivalence. It is effective in the early stages of recovery.
  14. Residential Treatment Centers:

    • Residential facilities provide immersive and structured treatment experiences for individuals requiring a more extended and intensive intervention.
  15. Community-Based Programs:

    • Programs within the community offer accessible and community-centered support for individuals with mental health concerns.
  16. Inpatient Mental Health Treatment:

    • Inpatient mental health treatment involves individuals residing within a treatment facility designed to provide a controlled and supportive environment for managing mental health conditions.

How Can Opiate Addiction Be Prevented?

Here are some best practices for avoiding opiate addiction

  • Fewer Days– Opiates should be used in short intervals. We recommend you stick to 3 days or less. If you have long-term pain, look for an alternative treatment plan.
  • Accessibility– Keep your opiate drugs away from public areas.
  • If you have leftover opiates, return them if possible. If you cannot, safely dispose of them.

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