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Opioids and Love: Understanding America’s Opioid Crisis

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Opioids and Love: Understanding America’s Opioid Crisis

Tuesday, January 18th, 2022

Over 75,000 people died from opioid abuse from April 2020 to April 2021. One of the keys to understanding how the prevalence of opioid use is so high is to examine how the brain reacts to opioid use. 

Opioids Create Feelings Like Love

When using opioids, people may have experiences that feel something like motherly love. According to research conducted by neuroscientist Jaak Panksepp, using drugs like heroin mimics the feelings of falling in love or visiting family or friends.

How it works is when a person takes opioids, they experience feelings of safety, love, and warmth. The brain produces oxytocin, the same chemical released during social engagements. It allows the person to feel relaxed, calm, and like they belong.

Therefore, it should not be a surprise that when a person does not have access to these feelings from friends or family, they might use opioids to replace them.

Why Do People Become Addicted to Opioids?

There can be many reasons why people become addicted to using opioids. One of the most common is isolation. When people do not have access to a social community, they look elsewhere to mimic these feelings. And with the pandemic creating more social isolation than ever before, it leads to a situation whereby more people might consider using.

The New York Times reported that 60% of young people surveyed felt lonely all the time or experienced prolonged periods of loneliness. Moreover, there is a correlation between opioid use and childhood traumas. People who experience neglect as a child or abuse have a higher likelihood of using opioids sometime throughout their lives. 

Another group susceptible is those with developmental disabilities. The disabilities on their own might not cause drug abuse. It is what the disability creates: social isolation. When someone has little to no social interactions, they feel alone, depressed, and disconnected. Therefore, when using this as a framework for cause, it is simple to see why some turn to using opioids. These drugs create the feelings they miss from childhood or regular social interaction.

A Spike in Opioid-Related Deaths in Florida

Florida witnessed an increase in opioid-related deaths. According to Dose of Reality, 3,834 people overdosed on opioids in 2020–a 30% increase from 2019. The correlation between drug overdoses and the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic is striking. In the first eight months of 2020, there were 43% more deaths from opioids than during the same time of 2019. 

With that said, Florida is one of the few states that allow people the legal option of sending addicted friends or loved ones to court-ordered treatment. Under the Marchman Act, you can file a legal motion to have a loved one treated because they cannot control their drug addiction, which could result in them harming themselves or others. The subject’s county court will review the case and, based on the evidence, rule whether to order the person to undergo treatment.

Break Free from Opioids

Did you know that involuntary therapy can be as effective as voluntary therapy? If you know someone struggling with opioid abuse, we can help you file a motion under the Marchman Act for help. We can also guide your family through a more traditional intervention process to encourage your loved one to seek help. 

Alternatively, if you are struggling with opioids, we offer many treatment options tailored to your situation. Contact us today to learn more about them. 

At R&A Therapeutic Partners Raymond Estefania and Ana Moreno specialize in substance use and mental health disorder evaluations, treatment, intervention and therapeutic/educational consulting for clients throughout the greater South Florida area, as well as nationally and internationally. For more resources and information please visit Therapeutic-Partners.com or on Facebook.

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