What Effects Do Opioids Have On The Body

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Opioids are a class of drugs that are highly addictive and can have devastating effects on the body. They work by attaching to opioid receptors in the brain, spinal cord, and other organs, thereby reducing pain signals while increasing pleasurable feelings. 

In today’s blog post we’ll take a look at what opioids do to the body, both short-term and long-term. We’ll discuss how they affect cognitive abilities, physical conditions, and much more.

Finally, we’ll discuss ways to reduce your risk of opioid addiction if you find yourself taking these drugs for medical reasons, and how to get help if you think you may be addicted. 

Opioids Defined

Opioids are a class of drugs that includes both illegal drugs, like heroin, and legal prescription painkillers, like oxycodone and fentanyl. Opioids work by binding to receptors in the brain and spinal cord, which reduces the perception of pain. Opioids can also produce feelings of pleasure and relaxation.

While opioids can be helpful for treating pain, they also come with a risk of serious side effects. Opioids can interfere with breathing, which can lead to overdose and death. They can also cause constipation, drowsiness, and confusion. Opioid use can also lead to addiction and dependence.

Drugs classed as opioids include: 

  • Carfentanil
  • Morphine
  • Oxycontin 
  • Fentanyl 
  • Dilaudid
  • Vicodin
  • Heroin 
  • Codeine
  • Methadone

What Effects Do Opioids Have On The Body?

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Opioids affect the body by binding to opioid receptors in the brain and spinal cord. This binding decreases the perception of pain and can produce a feeling of euphoria. Opioids also cause drowsiness, slowed breathing, and can decrease blood pressure. Long-term use of opioids can lead to tolerance, dependence, and addiction.

Short-term effects of opioids can include:

  • Euphoria
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Itchiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Confusion and impaired thinking
  • Slow breathing

Long-term effects of opioids include: 

  • Tolerance: The body becomes less responsive to opioids over time, leading to the need for higher doses to achieve the same effect.
  • Physical dependence: With chronic use, opioids change the way the brain and nervous system function. Stopping suddenly can cause withdrawal symptoms including anxiety, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. 
  • Addiction: Opioid addiction is characterized by compulsive drug-seeking behavior and continued use despite negative consequences. People with an addiction may lose interest in activities that they once enjoyed and may become isolated from family and friends. 
  • Overdose: Opioid overdose occurs when a person takes more of the drug than their body can safely process. Symptoms include shallow breathing, slurred speech, confusion, drowsiness,

Perhaps one of the most pernicious long-term effects of opioid use is they also have a high potential for abuse and addiction. We can’t reiterate this enough. Opioids act on the same brain pathways as other addictive substances, such as alcohol and cocaine. When misused, they can lead to tolerance and dependence.

Opioid Addiction

Opioid addiction is a serious problem in both the United States and around the world. 

People who abuse opioids may take them in larger doses than prescribed, or more often than prescribed. They may also crush and snort pills, or inject them into veins. This can lead to dangerous consequences, including overdose and death. According to the National Institute On Drug abuse, opioid overdoses killed more than 80,000 people in 2021 alone.

The trend also shows no signs of decreasing, and has risen every year since at least since 1999. 

Treatment for opioid addiction typically includes medication and behavioral therapy. Medications such as methadone or buprenorphine can help reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings, while behavioral therapies can help people develop coping skills and address underlying issues that may contribute to their addiction.

Some of the most common treatment options for opioid addiction include:

  • Medications: There are a number of medications that can be used to treat opioid addiction, including methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone. These medications can help to reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms, and they can also block the effects of opioids.
  • Behavioral therapy: This type of therapy can help people to identify and change the behaviors that contribute to their opioid addiction. behavioral therapy can be conducted individually or in a group setting.
  • Detoxification: Detoxification is often the first step in treating opioid addiction. During detox, the person will stop using opioids and allow their body to rid itself of the drugs. This process can be difficult and uncomfortable, but it’s necessary in order to start other forms of treatment.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an opioid addiction, there is help available, and an opioid addiction is not a death sentence. 

Find Help For An Opioid Addiction Today

Opioids can have a devastating impact on your body. They are highly addictive drugs that can cause serious physical and mental health problems, including chronic pain and depression.

Despite the risks associated with opioid use, it remains one of the most commonly prescribed medications in the United States. It is important to understand both the short-term effects of opioids as well as their long-term implications so that you can make an informed decision about whether or not they are right for you. 

Educating yourself on this subject is key to avoiding falling victim to prescription drug abuse. IF you think you may have a problem, contact us at (424) 339-0965 and we can help. 

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