Opioids are narcotic pain relievers that are prescribed for moderate to severe pain. These drugs bind to and activate the mu-opioid receptors in the brain. When the mu-opioid receptors are activated, the brain floods with large amounts of dopamine.
This causes the individual to experience a sense of calm and pleasure. It also elevates mood and decreases pain by telling the brain that the person isn’t really in pain.
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Can Opioids Relieve Depression?
Opioid Addiction is at an all-time high in this country right now. In many cases, people who eventually become addicted to opioids have an underlying mental illness such as depression or anxiety that has been left untreated.
An individual has an accident or goes in for a surgical procedure, and they are given a prescription for opioids. They start taking the medication to treat their pain and discover they are calm, happy, their mood is better than it has been in a long time, and their pain level is better. They continue taking the opioids after their physical pain is gone because it is also now relieving their mental pain (depression). This is due to the excessive amounts of dopamine that are being released when the opioid is taken.
Psychotherapeutic Benefits of Opioid Agonist Therapy
The National Library of Medicine “Psychotherapeutic benefits of opioid agonist therapy” says:
Opioids have been used for centuries to treat a variety of psychiatric conditions with much success. The so-called “opium cure” lost popularity in the early 1950s by developing non-addictive tricyclic antidepressants and monoamine oxidase inhibitors. Nonetheless, recent literature supports the potent role of methadone, buprenorphine, tramadol, morphine, and other opioids as effective, durable, and rapid therapeutic agents for anxiety and depression. This article reviews the medical literature on treating psychiatric disorders with opioids (notably, methadone and buprenorphine) in both the non-opioid-dependent population and in the opioid-dependent methadone maintenance population. The most recent neurotransmitter theories on the origin of depression and anxiety will be reviewed, including current information on the role of serotonin, N-Methyl d-Aspartate, glutamate, cortisol, catecholamine, and dopamine in psychiatric disorders. . (NIH)
How Many Americans Are Currently on Prescription Opioids?
Opioids do relieve depression and anxiety. There are 38.6 million Americans who have mood disorders and are currently on prescription opioids. An analysis showed that 51 percent of the opioid prescriptions annually go to adults with mood disorders; that’s around 60 million prescriptions each year. Also, studies show that people with a history of depression are more likely to experience chronic pain issues. In the interim, opioids can have a short-term antidepressant effect, potentially motivating patients to seek more prescriptions.
The bottom line here is that opioid prescriptions can be appropriate for people with mood disorders. Opioids aren’t indicated or prescribed for depression or mood disorders; however, they can be appropriate for treating them.
Treatment for an Opioid Addiction Disorder
If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction to opioids, our addiction specialists are available around the clock to assist you. Recreate Life Counseling offers evidence-based addiction treatment, such as dual diagnosis, ideal for those who suffer from mental illness and drug addiction. Our cutting-edge addiction treatment will lead you on the road to long-lasting recovery.
At Recreate Life Counseling, we are here to help you, and military members are always welcome. So call us and talk to one of our addiction specialists that are available around the clock.