America's opiate epidemic is currently reaching epic proportions, having already destroyed countless lives and even entire communities. Many point to the huge rise in opiate painkiller prescriptions as being one of the main causes of the problem. The fact is that American doctors prescribe far more opiates than anywhere else in the world, and this wide availability definitely plays a role in the addiction problem. However, one much overlooked factor is the link between mental health and opiate addiction, which can help to explain why some people seem more prone to become addicted than others.
The Link between Addiction and Mental Health
It probably doesn't come as much of a surprise that depression can play a major factor in becoming an addict. Opiate painkillers make you feel good, which means they can also help you to overcome any symptoms of depression—at least for the time being. The problem is that if a depressed person is prescribed painkillers for any reason, they become much more likely to be addicted. After all, if you'd tried everything else to cure your depression without result, and suddenly you find yourself in possession of pills that make you feel happier whenever you take one—why wouldn't you just start taking them all the time?
Mental Disorders Linked to Increased Addiction Risk
It's not just people with depression that have to worry as a variety of other mental health problems can directly affect or be affected by opiate use. Individuals with high levels of anxiety or stress or those suffering from alcoholism, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or even ADD are at a much greater risk of addiction for the same reasons as those who suffer from depression. Alternatively, opiate use can also cause even more problems or exacerbate symptoms in people suffering from other issues, such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.
Any and all of these mental issues have the potential to make the psychological addiction to opiates even stronger, which obviously increases your chances of becoming seriously addicted and often quite quickly. Unfortunately, those with mental health issues are also much more likely to relapse even if they get over their addiction unless they also get proper treatment to help overcome the mental problems.
Today's modern, fast-paced lifestyle has resulted in increased numbers of people with these and other mental disorders. Worse, the great majority of those suffering from many of these conditions are never properly diagnosed or treated. This fact probably goes a long way towards explaining the increased rise of opiate addiction, especially since these painkillers now seem to be available almost everywhere.
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