Psychology professor talks about opioids


Ryan Darrow, professor, psychology said, “There is not anything I haven’t heard someone confess to having not done to get drugs.”

Psychology Professor Ryan Darrow gave us some information on opioids, and how opioid addiction and dependence happens.

“When we think of opioids, they are a classification of drugs,” Darrow said. “That’s all that it is, it’s a drug. It’s either synthetic or natural. Natural opioids are made out of the poppy plant, and they actually harvest the opium from it, and they create pain medication, because pain is a natural part of life.”

“Somebody has a car accident and they break their femur, so a person would take the medication and it blocks those nociceptors (sensors) in the brain that are screaming with pain from the signal coming from that part of the body, and it blocks that receptor, and it causes the pain to go away, to relax,” Darrow said. “And they’re quite wonderful when you’ve broken your leg, when you have a burn, when you’ve had your wisdom teeth taken out.”

“It’s a tremendous amount of pain,” Darrow said. “And so, what doctor wouldn’t prescribe medication for someone who’s in pain? That’s part of their ethical obligation and it is part of their oath, and that’s typically how it starts, people have legally prescribed medication.”

“It works to a certain point, and so you need just a little bit more each time,” Darrow said. “There’s a diminished effect, a diminished quality effect, a person needs [more] and they become dependent on it. And so, they’ll have to use a little bit more,” Darrow said. “So, you start off with 5 milligrams, and then that doesn’t work, and then it’s 10 milligrams, and then it’s maybe 20 milligrams, and then it’s 40 milligrams.”

“And after a period of time,” Darrow said. “that person, after a long exposure, often times the doctor says ‘Well, it’s been 90 days, so we’re no longer-I can’t give you any more pain medication, your pain should be over now.’ And they’re like ‘No it’s not, it’s still hurting.’ And so they—maybe they turn to a friend who has drugs, and that friend says ‘Hey man, I got some Vicodin’s here, I could sell them to you cheap’ or ‘I know a guy over here’, or ‘Some gal over here can sell them to you.’”

Darrow also gave some insights into the struggles with recovery.

“Sometimes we have to differentiate, and a lot of textbooks don’t do a really thorough job doing this: differentiate, more practically, between addiction and dependence,” Darrow said. “The physical aspects of it are dependence.

“The psychological aspects of it are addiction, and the whole lifestyle can become addicting.,” Darrow said. “Sometimes it’s an environment, sometimes it’s a neighborhood, sometimes it’s a cohort of friends, and it can become a cycle of addiction. And that addictive part of it, I would say it’s significantly more powerful than the actual physical dependence.”

“You bear down and white-knuckle yourself for two weeks, there’s a lot of drugs that people will break with the help of a physician, and the physical aspects of it, of withdrawal, are over,” Darrow said. “But the addictive, breaking that addictive cycle, is exceedingly difficult, and this is why the recidivism rate of drug dependent or drug addicted people is over 90 percent.”

For the Campus Ledger, I’m Vincent Amiri.



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