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Dr. Cassidy Blair, Psy.D. Licensed Clinical Psychologist | PSY 22022

Dr. Cassidy Blair, Psy.D.

Opioid use disorder, or opioid addiction, is a medical condition that affects millions of Americans. It doesn’t discern between age, race, or income level, and as with other addictions, genetic and environmental factors can influence risk. Addiction is much more complicated than just a physical dependence, and each person will have a unique set of circumstances that influence their behavior. Even if an individual is working toward recovery, there are still many psychological factors that can trigger a relapse.

At Blair Wellness Group of Beverly Hills, we believe that psychological therapy is a key component of opioid abuse treatment as it seeks to identify the social and behavioral factors that influence addiction. By identifying possible triggers and addressing conditions that go hand-in-hand with addiction, it’s possible to obtain lasting freedom from opioid addiction.

What Are Opioids?

Opioids are a class of drugs that interact with nerve receptors in the body, reducing the intensity of pain signals to the brain. They are often prescribed by doctors as a way to manage pain after surgery or an accident or to manage chronic pain caused by degenerative diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. In addition to helping people manage pain, opioids also cause the brain to release endorphins, creating a relaxed or euphoric feeling. Because of this, opioids are highly addictive. In many cases, people who have been prescribed painkillers by their doctors become physiologically dependent on them.

Examples of Opioid Drugs

Opioid drugs fall into three different classes — natural, synthetic, or semi-synthetic. Regardless of the type, opioids of all kinds can be misused and have addiction potential. The following is a list of some of the most commonly used opioid drugs.

  • Morphine
  • Codeine
  • Oxycodone (OxyContin®)
  • Heroine
  • Methadone
  • Hydrocodone (Vicodin®)
  • Opium
  • Fentanyl

Exploring the Difference Between Tolerance, Dependence, and Addiction

It may not be easy to determine if you or someone you know is struggling with opioid addiction. Understanding the meaning of the terms tolerance, dependence, and addiction can help in understanding the severity and what kind of treatment is necessary.

Opioid Tolerance 

Tolerance occurs when a person using opioids begins to experience a reduced response and therefore requires more opioids to experience the same effect. Tolerance isn’t necessarily indicative of a problem because some prescription medications are known to become increasingly ineffective over time. However, when taken independently of a doctor’s close supervision, it could signal signs of a growing addiction.

Opioid Dependence

Dependence means that a person’s brain has adjusted to regular opioid use and without it, unpleasant symptoms of withdrawal will occur when stopped. Withdrawal symptoms can be mild such as headaches, sweating, and an upset stomach. However, they can also be more serious — which is why people who have been dependent on a drug for a long period of time need to reduce their intake gradually. It’s also important to note that it’s possible for a person to be dependent on a drug without being clinically addicted. 

Opioid Addiction

Also called Opioid Use Disorder or OUD, opioid addiction occurs when drugs are taken repeatedly and attempts to cut down or control use are unsuccessful despite negative consequences. Unlike tolerance and dependence, addiction is actually a disease that is characterized by physical changes in the brain, making it especially difficult for the user to stop and critical that they seek out medical and psychological help. 

Signs of Opioid Addiction

Many people who are struggling with opioid addiction may not display symptoms right away but over time, physical dependency can start to interfere with daily life. The following are some of the potential warning signs of opioid addiction.

Physical Signs

  • Drowsiness
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of coordination
  • Sweating
  • Shaking
  • Slurred speech

Behavioral Signs

  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Drastic mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Isolation from family and friends
  • Abandoning responsibilities
  • New financial struggles

Taking a Step In the Right Direction

If you suspect that you have a dependency or addiction to opioid medications, the best thing you can do is to seek help immediately from a licensed professional with training and experience in addiction disorders. There are also some things you can do to start the process of reducing your dependence including removing drugs from your home, keeping a diary of your drug use, steering clear of social influences that make you want to use, and setting a clear goal for reducing and eventually stopping.

Dealing with opioid addiction is challenging, and, in most cases, requires professional help. If you’re ready to take control of your life and want to achieve life-changing, lasting sobriety, take the first step and contact Blair Wellness Group today to request an appointment.   

Treatment and Long-Term Recovery For Opioid Addiction

Opioid addiction is a dangerous and complex disease and treatment will be different for everyone. Underlying behavioral conditions such as anxiety, depression, or PTSD can have a compounding effect and often influence users to travel down the path from tolerance and dependence to addiction. That’s why it’s important to not wait to seek help from someone who will work with you one-on-one and be proactive in determining risk factors and behavior patterns that could influence your addiction.

At Blair Wellness Group, we use a wide range of evidence-based treatment modalities to help our patients increase their awareness of the thoughts and emotions that are fueling their opioid abuse. Dr. Blair is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist who, through the use of therapies such as Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, and Psychodynamic Therapy, helps her patients develop the skills necessary to overcome addiction and achieve lasting recovery.  

Get the Treatment You Need, Any Time of Day or Night

At Blair Wellness Clinic, we offer concierge-style care that allows our patients to seek treatment whenever is most beneficial or convenient for them. This means you can schedule night and weekend appointments, seven days a week, and have direct access to Dr. Blair for the quality care and support you need. We also offer in-person appointments, teletherapy sessions, and telephone meetings so our patients have the option of meeting with Dr. Blair in our Beverly Hills office or from the comfort and privacy of their own homes. 

You don’t have to face addiction alone — discover effective solutions in a supportive and judge-free environment. Contact Blair Wellness Group at 310.999.4996 or request an appointment online today.

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