How Opiates Impact the Brain & Body
The term opiates refer to the chemical compound derived mostly from a naturally occurring plant called opium. These include controlled prescription substances. These opiates mainly come from poppy plants and seeds. Healthcare professionals use most of the opiates to treat mild to extreme pain in patients; but, are also one of the leading addictions in the world.
There are millions of opiate addicts in the U.S alone. According to sources, nearly 50,000 people died from opiate-related overdoses. Most of these cases include prescription overdoses and synthetic opioids such as Fentanyl.
This addiction not only makes it difficult for the addicts or their close ones; but also the government due to burdens for healthcare, addiction treatment, lack of productivity, etc. all of this sums up to a loss in trillions of dollars. The addiction roots back to the 1900’s when the authorities claimed that the drug is not addictive. Most of the health professionals started prescribing these drugs in greater quantities; leading to addiction.
Types of Opioids
There are various opioid options in the market for anyone who needs them. Following are some of the most common morphine types.
How Do People Take Opioids?
Most of the users take opioids as pills. However, there are several ways of doing it. Some people take lozenges or lollipops that have the same effect on the body. Others may take it through an injection or an IV.
These opiates reach the body through a patch on the skin with a suppository. All of these drugs have various effects on the human body. Therefore, we will discuss some of the prime effects of opiates on the human body.
Effects of Opiates Addiction on the Human Body
Effects on the Mind
Most opiate users tend to start using these drugs to get a relaxing sensation. The drug is essentially a relaxant; thus, it slows the body functions for the time being but has agonizing effects in the long run. These “painkillers” have several mental effects including daytime sleepiness. Most opioid users tend to experience problems with maintaining energy and wish to sleep through the day.
These addicts require higher doses of stimulants to counter this problem, which makes things worse. The opioid users tend to fall in and out of consciousness continuously because their mind goes “numb”. People who use these painkillers for an extended period also face depression.
Researches show that 50% of the people who take these medicines for an extended time have a greater chance of developing a depressive attitude. Thus, opioids ruin the overall performance of an individual and even cut them off from their daily life activities.
Effects on Respiratory System
These opioids have an extensive effect on the respiratory system as well. Using heroin can cause respiratory depression i.e. slowing the respiratory system. This deprives the tissues and essential organs of oxygen damaging the overall health situation of a person.
Effects on Digestive System
Opiates slow down the metabolism because they affect the digestive muscles too. Constipation and gastrointestinal motility cause bowel obstruction, perforation, and peritonitis. Uncontrollable vomiting and nausea are some other notable effects of using opiates for a long weird.
Therefore, these addicts require antiemetic medicines to control these problems. Using these drugs also affects the appetite of a person making it harder for them to absorb the nutrients causing further complications.
Effects on Immune System
The opioid receptors play a vital role in the immune system. Excessive use of these painkillers, opioids causes the immunity to slow down causing long-term health issues. It also leaves the body vulnerable to many viruses and health issues that the body would not have otherwise.
Effect on Liver
Most of the painkillers and opiates like heroin cause liver damage as they have acetaminophen. Excessive doses of these opiates cause liver damage and acetaminophen toxicity. Consuming excessive doses of painkillers like Lortab, Norco, and Vicodin, are some of the most common causes of liver issues in opiate addicts.
Many of these opiate addicts tend to add alcohol while consuming the drugs; which worsens the situation. The liver finds it harder to process and filter the combination of ethanol and acetaminophen causing further liver problems.
Effects of Injected Opiates
Addicts tend to dilute most of the opiates such as heroin before using them. It increases the risk of contamination and infection through use. The injection causes these viruses and infections to enter the body; leading to further trouble. These infections can also reach the heart lining and cause endocarditis.
Street heroin usually consists of contaminations and impurities that can enter and travel through the body. They can also get stuck in the capillaries causing microembolism or clots. These clots can block the blood supply to the rest of the body or cause organ damage. Inflammation abases and infections are some other additional hazards of injecting heroin into the body.
Heroin addicts also tend to share needles or crush the drug with their hands which increases the chance of chronic diseases like Hepatitis C. This further affects the liver making things more complex for the user. Lung infections and tuberculosis are some other common problems that most heroin users need to deal with. Additionally, injections are one of the leading causes of HIV transmission; thus, it is safe to say that injected heroin is the most dangerous, yet it is still most popular on the street.
Withdrawal from Opiates
Giving up opiates might be one of the most difficult things that an addict has to do. It has a lot to do with psychological nurturing due to extensive drug use. Most drug users tend to follow a repetitive pattern because they do not have control over the urge to consume the drug.
Most of the people who try and give up the drug, report the following drug withdrawal symptoms.
- Extensive craving for opiates.
- Pain throughout the body.
- Leg jerks and involuntary movement
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Pain in the abdomen
- Cold chills
- Dilated pupils.
- Hypertension (high blood pressure).
- Tachycardia (rapid heart rate).
- Anhedonia- lack of sensation of pleasures
These symptoms may differ from case to case but most of the addicts do experience them. Most of these withdrawal symptoms show up in a few days. However, these symptoms can last up to hours for most addicts. It depends on the intensity of the addiction that a person has had with the drug.
Mental and physical discomfort is common as most withdrawers report irritation and depression throughout the process. These withdrawal symptoms are very high to bear which increases the chances of a relapse- reusing the drug.
The time frame for this withdrawal can be between a few days to a full month depending on each case. So, ensure that you seek professional help for it; if you may need it.
CDC estimates that 46 people died every day due to opioid misuse and overdose, which is an alarming situation, considering things seem to become worse as time passes. Therefore, people need to take the necessary steps to end this plague.
We hope that this guide helped you understand opioids, their abuse, and the most dangerous effects on the body. You can reach out to us if you have further questions about the subject. We would be glad to help you with it.
Pain does not have to lead you to opioids. You have pain relief options that are natural and effective. To learn more about your options look here. You just may be surprised at how many people just like you are able to avoid surgery and even get significant pain relief without addictive pain killers. Learn more.