Why Is the U.S. Addicted to Opioids?

America and Pain Relievers: A Deadly Affair

Not only across the United States, but Opioids are the number one most prescribed drug worldwide. Despite this, the U.S. is responsible for 80 percent of the global supply of opioids as they are widely prescribed across the nation. Because of this, the U.S is struggling with that largest opioid epidemic in history. This crisis has officially declared a state of emergency and is causing a widespread concern due to the number of overdose deaths as a result of opioids.

Prescription opioids have been over-prescribed to patients who are suffering from mild chronic pain. As a medication that was reserved for patients enduring immense amounts of pain, it was simply too potent for the average case of moderate pain. Despite this, doctors kept prescribing this lucrative and effective pain medication to those experiencing pain, even if it was far too strong of a drug to prescribe. Since opioids are extremely strong, they can become very addictive very quickly and this is essentially what has lead to the opioid epidemic of today.

How do Opioids Work?

When taken, opioids attach to the various brain receptors, sending signals to the brain that block pain. The effect is a calm, euphoric, and anti-depressant feeling as there is an increase in serotonin, endorphins, and dopamine levels in the brain. When used over a prolonged period of time, the brain becomes dependent on the steady dose of the drug in order to feel ‘happy’. If the brain does not receive a dose of the drug, withdrawal symptoms begin to occur. Over time, individuals can build up a tolerance to the drug, taking an increased dose just to feel the effects of it.

Individuals who use opioids for an extended period of time will they will begin to have intense cravings for the drug. Since, over time, the brain requires a higher dose of opioids to feel the effects of it, the individual will need to increase their dose. At this point, the individual is not able to produce high enough dopamine levels for the individual to feel ‘happy’ without the help of opioids. Their brain can no longer naturally produce the chemicals needed to feel content.

Treatment for Opioid Addiction

If you or someone you know is struggling with an opioid addiction or dependency, it’s important that they seek help right away before their addiction worsens. When struggling with an addiction to opioids, it is suggested that they attend either inpatient or outpatient treatment.

During treatment, individuals will go through intense therapy and counseling in order to help them make a full recovery from their addiction. Some of the therapy and treatment that they will receive during their time in recovery are:

  • Group Therapy
  • Individualized Counseling
  • Medial Detox
  • Behavioral Therapy
  • Relapse Prevention
  • Aftercare Programs
  • Mental Health Services
  • Intensive Outpatient
  • And more

It’s important that you seek help right away as addiction is a disease that will not go away on its own. It will simply continue to worsen until you obtain the appropriate help.




If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

is a proud alumni member of WhiteSands Treatment. After living a life of chaos, destruction and constant let downs, Mark was able to make a complete turnaround that sparked a new way of life. He is serious about his recovery along with helping others. At WhiteSands Treatment, we offer support to you in your homes or when you are out living in your daily lives.