Many people face issues with addiction, whether it be to alcohol, gambling, or drugs. Opioid addictions have increased in number over recent years due to their tendency to be prescribed to those who are dealing with chronic pain. Opioid addiction is considered very dangerous and can even be life-threatening because of the potential for overdose.
What are Opioids?
Opioids are a specific class of drug. These drugs are derived from the opium poppy, where they naturally occur. They work within the brain to produce a number of different effects and are most notably known for their ability to relieve chronic pain. There are different types of opioids available. Some are prescribed for pain by a medical doctor, while others are illegal and are created on the street.
Opioids work by blocking pain signals between the brain and the body and are therefore typically prescribed to reduce issues a person may be having with moderate or severe pain. The problem with opioids is their high addictive potential, with a large number of people developing a dependence on the substance. Because of this high potential for abuse, treatment programs have been created to help those who are addicted to opioids achieve sobriety.
What Are the Different Types of Opioid Drugs?
There are a number of different types of opioids available both by prescription and through illegal means. Some of these opioids are used more commonly than others, but they all have a high potential for causing dependence among those who use them.
- Prescription Opioids: Prescription opioids are those that are recommended for use by a medical professional. There are many different kinds of prescription opioids. Hydrocodone is one of the most common opioids available by prescription and is sometimes combined with other medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Hydromorphone, Methadone, Morphine, Tramadol, and Carfentanil are all other opioids that are available via prescription.
- Fentanyl: Fentanyl is another opioid that is sometimes prescribed to those who have instances of chronic pain. It has also become an incredibly popular street drug. Fentanyl is incredibly dangerous and is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. The potential for overdose on Fentanyl is astronomical, and the prevalence of it being hidden in other street drugs and therefore consumed unknowingly results in the deaths of many people every year.
- Heroin: Heroin is one type of opioid that is strictly illegal. Heroin can be smoked, snorted, and injected into the body
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Opioid Abuse?
Those who find themselves or a loved one addicted to opioids may notice a variety of different physical and psychological signs of dependence. Sudden changes in social groups, isolating oneself, loss of interest in activities that used to be enjoyed, and a lack of personal hygiene are all signs of opioid addiction. Emotional changes, such as mood swings, being tired, nervous, sad, or angry, are other signs that opioid addiction may be an issue. Those who are addicted to opioids may find their appetite changes, resulting in them eating more or less than they used to. Problems with sleeping, being overly energetic, and saying things that do not make sense can point to opioid addiction, as can issues with work, the law, and finances.
Not everyone will exhibit all of these signs of opioid addiction, and the severity of these symptoms can vary greatly from person to person. The length of the addiction and the amount of opioids being ingested may also alter the signs and symptoms of addiction.
What Are the Side Effects of Opioid Abuse?
When opioids are consumed, they have a variety of effects on the body. Some of these effects may be noticed more quickly than others and are considered short-term effects. Other effects may take longer to present themselves and occur after the persistent consumption of opioids. These long-term effects can be very serious in nature and can even be life-threatening. This is why taking opioids is so dangerous. The effects of opioid abuse are both physical and psychological in nature and impact each person differently.
Short-Term Effects of Opioid Abuse
Short-term effects of opioid abuse typically take place relatively quickly after the consumption of an opioid. These effects can be observed both physically and mentally and can vary in severity depending on the person and the amount of the substance being ingested. Short-term effects of opioid abuse most commonly include:
- Feeling drowsy
- Decreased rate of respiration
- Feeling nauseous
- Coma, in severe cases
Opioids have a depressing effect on the body, meaning that motor function and body movements will become much slower. When large enough amounts of opioids are consumed, the heart and lungs are unable to function properly, which can lead to users choking to death because they are unable to breathe correctly.
Long-Term Effects of Opioid Abuse
The longer a person uses opioids, the more likely they are to develop long-term effects of opioid abuse. One of the main effects of prolonged opioid use is developing a dependence on the drug. A dependence is developed over time and occurs when the body adapts to the presence of opioids within the system and becomes unable to properly function without the substance. Eventually, a higher dose of the drug will need to be consumed in order to feel the same effects the person previously experienced. If consumption of opioids is stopped, the body will begin to go through withdrawals. There are a number of different symptoms that take place when going through opioid withdrawal, including muscle or bone pain, diarrhea, restlessness, vomiting, insomnia, and cold flashes. Because withdrawal symptoms can be severe, it is recommended that those addicted to opioids take part in medically assisted detox programs and addiction treatment in order to achieve sobriety.
Other long-term effects of opioid abuse include:
- Chronic constipation
- Nausea and vomiting
- Stomach cramps
- Increased risk of heart rhythm abnormalities
- Effects on reproductive health
- Risk of HIV or hepatitis for injection users
Taking Opioids with Other Drugs
Mixing drugs is never a good idea. Taking other substances in addition to opioids has the potential to cause negative effects on the body. Before you take any other medications with opioids, you should always speak to a doctor and do your own research first. Some of the drugs that can negatively interact with opioids include:
- Anti-seizure medications
- Certain antibiotics, including Biaxin
- Some antidepressants
- Some types of antifungal medications
- Certain antiretroviral medications used in the treatment of HIV
- Drugs that are used for sleeping problems, like Ambien
- Drugs that are used for the treatment of psychiatric disorders
- Muscle relaxers
- Other opioids
Taking these other medications in addition to opioids can increase the effects of the opioids, leading to slowed breathing, slowed heart rate, and the risk of death.
Getting Help for Opioid Addiction in Fresno, CA
There are rehabilitation centers dedicated to the treatment of opioid addiction all throughout the country due to the prevalence of opioid dependence in recent years. Fresno, California, has many different inpatient and outpatient treatment programs that are designed to help clients overcome their issues with opioid addiction. Getting help is possible and lasting sobriety is achievable. The first step towards healing is asking for help.