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MEND Corner: Use and Abuse of Opiates

MEND Corner: Use and Abuse of Opiates

March 9, 2017

As a part of its focus on fostering a healthy work and life-balance for its members and their dependents, the New York City District Council of Carpenters Welfare Fund’s (the “Welfare Fund”) Member Education and Network for Dependency (“MEND”) program is pleased to announce its first installment of MEND CORNER. MEND CORNER will appear on our website and in the Benefits Toolbox newsletter as an educational forum about alcohol and substance abuse.

What is an Opiate?

Opiates cover a wide variety of drugs ranging from legal drugs like OxyContin, Fentanyl, Vicodin, and Morphine, to illegal drugs such as heroin.

What are the symptoms of Opiate use?

  • Marked drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Nodding off
  • Noticeable elation
  • Social withdrawal
  • Sudden financial problems
  • Small or dilated pupils
  • Itching

If I’m taking a prescribed opiate to control my pain, can I become addicted?

Most people who take opiates for a period of time will develop a tolerance, meaning it will take more of the drug to obtain the same effect. This, combined with the euphoric psychological effect, is what leads to addiction.

How does addiction happen?

  • Tolerance: More is required to achieve same effect.
  • Dependence: Opiates are needed regularly or you experience withdrawal symptoms.
  • Addiction: Drug seeking becomes primary purpose in life despite obviously negative consequences.

What are the symptoms of Opiate Withdrawal?

  • Headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Sweating
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Inability to sleep

Who is at risk for opiate addiction?

Everyone is at risk for opiate addiction. Opiate addiction is a major issue in the U.S., with prescription opiate addiction being one of the biggest drug problems today. Frighteningly, prescription opiate abusers are far more likely to eventually develop a heroin addiction than a non-opiate abuser, as heroin will offer a similar high at a cheaper price.

If you or one of your dependents is struggling with substance abuse, please contact the MEND Program at (212) 366-7590 or by email at