Effects of Long-Term Opioid Addiction

Opioids are highly addictive narcotic medications that work in the brain to help relieve pain. These substances bind to the opioid receptors in the brain to depress the central nervous system. When taken, opioids produce a sense of calm, relaxation, and euphoria and tell one’s brain basically that they aren’t really in pain.

Effects of Long-Term Opioid Addiction

Opioid Epidemic in America

Opioid abuse, addiction, and overdose have been at epidemic levels in the United States for several years. However, this epidemic that this country is experiencing started back in the 1990s.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse “Opioid Overdose Crisis” says:

In the late 1990s, pharmaceutical companies reassured the medical community that patients would not become addicted to prescription opioid pain relievers, and healthcare providers began to prescribe them at greater rates. This subsequently led to widespread diversion and misuse of these medications before it became clear that these medications could indeed be highly addictive. Opioid overdose rates began to increase.(DRUGABUSE.GOV)

When used short-term, opioids can be very effective for pain relief; however, long-term use can have debilitating effects on a person’s mind and body.

What Effects Can Long-Term Opioid Addiction Have on You?

Opioids can take hold of a person before they even realize what’s happening. For instance, a prescription is given after an accident or surgery. The individual continues to take the medication much longer than any existing pain because it relaxes them or relieves their depression. Finally, they run out of medication and notice they start experiencing terrible withdrawal symptoms; this is when they realize they have developed a physical dependence on opioids.

At this stage, addiction may start to set in. The individual is willing to go to any means necessary to obtain more opioids to prevent the debilitating withdrawal symptoms from occurring. This is just the beginning of a long-term battle with opioid addiction.

More About Long-Term Effects of Opioid Addiction

Opioids copy the body’s natural chemicals, which help a person deal with pain and stress. Unfortunately, with long-term use, the body cannot create the right chemicals to combat this pain and stress, so opioids eventually damage an individual’s ability to deal with pain naturally. Also, any pain the person experiences from here on out will likely be more intense than before the opioids were started.

Some of the other effects of long-term opioid addiction can include:

  • Increased immune system vulnerability
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Inflammation of the tissues
  • Weak bones
  • Damage to the white and grey matter areas of the brain
  • Low dopamine production
  • Increased sensitivity to pain
  • Liver damage (from the acetaminophen)
  • Gastrointestinal issues (constipation, bloating, and abdominal distention)
  • Severe depression
  • High anxiety and agitation
  • Insomnia and difficulty sleeping
  • Hot/cold flashes
  • Diarrhea/nausea

Opioids cause adverse effects in several organ systems. The higher the daily dose, the higher the risk and more potential problems they can cause on a person’s mind and body.

Start Your Healing From Opioid Addiction at Recreate Life Counseling

If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction to opioids, our specialists are available around the clock to assist you. Recreate Life Counseling offers cutting-edge and evidence-based opioid addiction treatment. We will guide you on the road to long-lasting recovery.

So give us a call today and speak with one of our addiction specialists who are here to help you recreate your life, free from addiction. We are available around the clock and all calls are free and confidential.