Substance use can be hard to stop.
One thing that makes stopping so difficult is that the immediate effects of substance use tend to be positive. The person may feel good, have more confidence and forget about his or her problems. The problems caused by substance use might not be obvious for some time.
The person may come to rely on substances to bring short-term relief from stressful feelings or physical pain. The effect of substances can make problems seem less important or make pain disappear. The person usually comes to a point where he or she cannot function or make it through the day without drugs or alcohol. Opioids stimulate the brain’s reward system. Continuous use eventually leads to tolerance and dependence on the drug, to the point where the brain needs it to function normally, something users call “maintaining”. When substances are used to escape problems or change how the user feels, using can become a habit, which can be hard to break. The dose used might also increase. For this reason, as in any other disease, the earlier seeking treatment the better the outcome.
Continued substance use can cause changes in the body, brain and alter mood. These changes may explain why people continue to crave the substance long after they have stopped using, and why they may slip back into using. A person who develops physical dependence and then stops using may experience symptoms of withdrawal, which urge the body to use again. People who use opioids such as fentanyl are usually fearful of the pain of withdrawal, and this might be their main reason to continue to use drugs: to avoid the negative experience. Medical detox helps get over these symptoms and gives the person a new chance for the decision to quit.