Opioid Dependence Specialist

Carty Addiction Medicine and Internal Medicine Clinic

Addiction Medicine & Internal Medicine located in Winston Salem, NC

Dependence on opioids is just a short step from full-blown addiction, so if you’re finding it impossible to manage without your drug of choice, you should get help now. Brian Carty, MD, MSPH, of Carty Addiction and Internal Medicine Clinic in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, is a leading addiction specialist who provides effective solutions for opioid dependence, including the highly successful medication-assisted treatment (MAT) program. Call the clinic today to find out more, or book an appointment online.

Opioid Dependence Q & A

What is opioid dependence?

Opioids are drugs that come either directly from the opium poppy plant itself or are synthesized in the lab. The illegal drug heroin is a type of opioid which is highly addictive, giving users a feeling of intense pleasure and relaxation.

Many types of opioids are available on prescription to help relieve moderate-to-severe pain, but as they often have similar effects to heroin, opioid abuse and dependence is a serious public health issue. The most common types of prescription opioids are:

  • Hydrocodone (Vicodin®)
  • Oxycodone (OxyContin®, Percocet®)
  • Oxymorphone (Opana®)
  • Morphine (Kadian®, Avinza®)
  • Codeine
  • Fentanyl

Some people who have a prescription for an opioid to relieve pain find they become dependent on the drug in much the same way that heroin users need their next fix. The effects of prescription opioids aren’t as extreme as those produced by heroin, but are still a common cause of drug dependence.

Drug dependence develops when you use a substance for long enough that it affects the neurons in your brain. When you become dependent, these neurons can’t function normally unless you have the drug in your system. As a result, you experience a range of physical reactions if you try to stop taking the drug.

In the case of chronic pain patients who take opioid medication, not only are they dependent on the opioid, but their fear of worsening pain if they stop taking their medication reinforces their dependence.

What are the symptoms of opioid dependence?

Opioid dependence can cause physical and psychological symptoms. Some of the most common signs of opioid dependence include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Euphoria
  • Slowed breathing

The effect of opioids on breathing is one of the factors most likely to lead to death from opioid overdose. Opioid misuse can slow your breathing to such an extent that it causes hypoxia, which is a lack of oxygen in your brain. As well as affecting your psychological and neurological functioning, hypoxia can also lead to coma, irreversible brain damage, or death.

How serious is opioid dependence?

Opioid dependence is a serious problem that can also lead to addiction. Dependence becomes an addiction when continued use of the drug causes issues with a person’s health, work, and family, that despite being severe, still aren’t enough to stop their use of opioids. Addiction to opioids can cause more severe withdrawal symptoms should you try to stop taking them, including:

  • Muscle and bone pain
  • Sleep problems
  • Diarrhea and vomiting
  • Cold flashes with goosebumps
  • Uncontrollable leg movements
  • Severe cravings

At Carty Addiction and Internal Medicine Clinic, you can reduce your opioid use and break your dependence on their medication-assisted treatment (MAT) program. MAT uses a combination of Suboxone medication, counseling, and behavior modification therapies to ease your withdrawal symptoms and help you manage your life without needing opioids. Call the clinic today to find out more, or book an appointment online.