Opiate abuse is continually rising as more people become addicted to prescription pain relievers and heroin. Based on findings by the American Society of Addiction Medicine, roughly 2 million Americans were using prescription opioids in a non-prescribed way in 2015, and 591,000 people abused the opiate heroin. Abusers of opiates such as these have to face the dangers of opiate addiction and the long-term effects of opiates on the organs.
This article looks at opiates effects on the brain and the other common dangers of opiate addiction. They are as follows:
People abuse opiates such as painkillers and heroin because of the high it gives them. In the short term, opiates can have negative consequences on a person's health and mental well-being. Many users report a heavy drowsiness making operation of machinery and cars very risky. They also commonly experience paranoia. Nausea and stomach cramps are another concern in the short term. One of the biggest short-term problems is respiratory depression, which can cause breathing to stop entirely if too much is taken.
Long-term abuse of opiates has been linked to a 50% higher likelihood of developing depression. Furthermore, due to the lack of oxygen that the brain receives when too much opiates have been taken, there can be brain damage and even death.
The dangers of opiate addiction on the organs other than your brain are a real concern. The respiratory system causes damage to many of your organs due to the depressed state, leading to a lack of oxygen to many organs in the body. Other dangers of opiate addiction include the digestive system. Chronic use leads to long-term issues in the digestive system such as constipation and perforation.
The liver is another organ that takes a beating from opiate abuse. Most drugs affect the liver because the liver is in charge of cleaning the body of toxins; however, in prescription opioids that contain acetaminophen can cause severe damage to the liver, even liver failure. These medications include brands such as Norco, Vicodin and Lortab. The effect is worsened when they are taken with alcohol.
Opiates are highly addictive. Continued use soon interferes with the natural chemical release in the brain until the person becomes completely reliant on the substance for any sense of normal brain function. An addiction can form relatively quickly - even within three days of heavy use. Addiction will cause a person to participate in various drug-seeking behaviors that can lead to very risky behavior. When an addiction to opiates has formed, professional treatment is often the only option left. Of course, once an addiction forms, the other long-term effects of opiates on organs can manifest.
Tolerance is another concern as it can lead to overdose. Chronic use of opiates causes the brain to adjust to the constant presence of the drug. This leads to a tolerance forming that forces the person to use more and more drugs to get the same effect. Overdose then becomes likely when the person stops using the substance and relapses since they aren't used to having such a low tolerance and take too much of the drug in one sitting.