Typically, a person uses opioids recreationally to feel a euphoric effect or what is more commonly known as a high. When these opioids are consumed, they alter emotions and moods in the brain (“How Drugs Affect the Brain and Central Nervous System“). Usually, after a while, the body begins to build a tolerance to these drugs which means that to feel the effects again, they must increase the dose. This is what leads to overdose; someone tries take too much because they want to feel relief. When these opioids are continuously used, the body is unable to produce its own opioid chemicals, such as Oxytocin or endorphins, which cause withdrawal symptoms once administration stops (Volkow).
Similar to HIV/AIDS in the early 80’s, opioid abuse and addiction is usually associated with certain groups or types of people which leads to stigmatization of the problem. Stigma is typically based on a belief or presumption and “results in prejudice, avoidance, rejection, and discrimination” (Villa). Because of this, people with an addiction are afraid to seek the help they need which reinforces the cycle of the addiction.
According to German Lopez, there is a credible treatment that, although itself is an opioid, allows a patient to reduce withdrawal symptoms in a safe, medical way. Even though this method offers a safe way to curb cravings, most people are afraid to use this treatment because of the stigma associated with “replacing one drug with another” (Lopez).
Although this is a healthy way to help addicts come off the addiction, it is not a fix for the societal prejudice towards drug abuse. The first step to preventing people in the future from becoming addicted to opioids is to destigmatize the issue. Just as with HIV/AIDS, society must accept and understand that addiction is a disease rather than a lifestyle.
In this case, drug addiction programs can take cues from Stony Brook. Just as with Stony Brook did with HIV/AIDS, more programs must be offered to educate the public on opioids and their effects on people.