Opiate addiction is when you compulsively seek and use opiates, even when you know it is harmful to your health and well-being.
When you take an opiate, your body is flooded with chemicals known as dopamine and endorphins. These chemicals result in experiences of intense happiness, euphoria, and other feelings of pleasure.
Endorphins naturally occur in our bodies. Our brain releases them when we exercise, eat chocolate or listen to music. But the sensations you experience after taking opiates are much more intense than those that result from naturally produced endorphins. It is these feelings of overwhelming pleasure that cause people to abuse opiates.
If you use opiates over an extended period, your body will stop naturally producing these chemicals. You may become physically dependent on the drug to experience feelings of pleasure, a condition known as Anhedonia.
Repeated use of opiates also causes you to develop a tolerance to the drug. You will need larger doses of the drug to feel the same effects. Ultimately, your body adjusts to the drug so that when you try to stop taking it, you experience a range of withdrawal symptoms.