If you have abused or are currently abusing opiates, you’re not alone. In fact, opioid use in the United States is an epidemic and was a top contributor to the life expectancy of Americans dropping in both 2015 and 2016.
Unfortunately, overdose isn’t the only harsh reality associated with opiate abuse. There are many side effects and symptoms that come along with using these narcotics as well, both mental and physical.
If you’re interested in learning more about how opioid abuse may be affecting you, keep reading. We’ll go over the most common opioid side effects, why they occur, and how to get help.
What Is an Opiate and Why Do People Abuse Them?
Let’s start at the roots. Opioids are derived from the flower of the poppy plant and have been used to treat various ailments for hundreds of years.
In our modern day world, opioid painkillers are narcotic medications prescribed by doctors to manage pain. Some common examples of these prescriptions are Fentanyl, OxyContin, morphine, hydrocodone, and codeine. Heroin is also an example of an opioid narcotic.
For many people, addiction to opiates starts at the doctor’s office with a legal prescription. Painkillers are necessary after certain illnesses, injuries, and operations, but they are also very powerful. For some, it’s impossible to stop taking these drugs once they’ve started.
Narcotics may provide the user with a euphoric sensation, and this sensation itself is what they are addicted to. These drugs serve to numb pain both physically and emotionally, and for individuals who suffer from mental illness or past trauma, opioids become a way to cope- and then a dependency.
Addiction can also stem from genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors. If an individual has relatives who suffer from addiction or they were raised in an environment of addiction and chaos, they are at a much higher risk of becoming an addict themselves. In addition, those who suffer from disorders that affect their endorphin levels are also at a higher risk.
Disorders That Occur Alongside Addiction
Mental disorders and addiction often go hand-in-hand. Here are the most common disorders that occur alongside addiction.
- Borderline Personality Disorder
- Depression disorders
- Bipolar Disorder
Mood-Related Opioid Side Effects
Not everyone suffering from opioid addiction will experience the same symptoms. However, mood-related side effects are very common, especially when the user is coming down from an opiate high. These are the most prevalent.
- Quick swings or changes in mood
When a person regularly uses narcotics, it inhibits their brain from properly creating the neurotransmitters that naturally regulate pain and mood. Because of this, the addict will experience vast changes in their emotions and pain levels depending on when they last used.
Behavioral Side Effects of Opioids
Changes in behavior are also very common in those who abuse opioids. These are the most widely-seen behavioral side effects.
- Stealing money or opioid medications from family members
- A decline in work ethic at their job or school
- Lying about drug use
- Declining to participate in activities they once enjoyed
- Attempting to forge prescriptions or rob pharmacies in order to obtain opiates
As you see, the behavioral symptoms of opioid addiction are all-consuming for the individual. Once a person has an addiction, getting their hands on their drug of choice will take precedence over any almost any other aspect of their life.
Physical Effects of Opiates
Although the physical effects of opioid use are vast and varied, they do become more serious the longer the individual uses these drugs. These are the most common physical side effects of opiate addiction.
- A sensation of itchiness
- Inability to sleep
- Respiratory issues
- Spasms or seizures
The Psychological Long-Term Effect of Opiates
The psychological symptoms of opioid use can have a serious, long-term effect. These are the psychological impacts of extended narcotic use.
- Difficulty with memory
- Paranoid delusions or hallucinations
- A decline in general mental health and wellness
- Worsening symptoms of a pre-existing mental illness
How Chasing an Opioid High Can Affect Your Life
So, we’ve reviewed the emotional, behavioral, physical, and psychological effects of opioid use. But how can it affect your life? Let’s break down the most common ways.
- Loss of employment
- Jail or prison time
- Loss of child custody
- Irreversible damage to the body
- Overdose and death
As you can see, there are no limits when it comes to the effects of narcotic abuse. Like a poison, the results of addiction will spread and spread until each aspect of your life has been devastated.
What is Withdrawal from Opioids Like?
Withdrawal symptoms will vary depending on how long the individual has been using narcotics and what kind. Withdrawal should always be supervised by experienced medical professionals only.
These are the most common effects.
- Chills and goosebumps
- Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
- Feelings of anxiety or even suicidal thoughts
- Intense cravings for opioids
- Muscle pains
- Bone pains
- Pupil dilation
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
Drug abuse and addiction can foster feelings of hopelessness and loneliness. Especially if your friends and family have abandoned you during this time, a support system may feel out of reach.
But this should never prevent you from asking for help. There are lots of resources and programs out there to get you back on your feet. There are people who care about your wellness and about helping you get better.
As you can see, opioid side effects can be serious, long-lasting, damaging, and even life-threatening. If you are abusing narcotics, it’s important to consider the emotional, physical, and mental effects of this abuse.
And remember that other treatment options are out there to manage pain, past trauma, and mental illness. Opioids are not healthy to use long-term and will only prevent your brain from being able to manage your mood and pain levels naturally.
aIf you’re ready to seek help, we’re here for you. Feel free to contact us anytime with questions or to learn more about our services. You’re not alone!