Opiates are drugs derived from the opium poppy plant found both in the natural form, like the street drug heroin, and in a chemically engineered form, like in opiate pain medication. People often abuse opiates for many reasons including ease of obtaining them and the pleasurable side effects of the drugs. These immediate effects of opiate abuse are the reason that addiction usually forms. When addiction begins, it is strong and swift. Opiates create an initial rush or euphoric state from the drug because the brain allows endorphins—the feel good chemicals in the brain—to flood the body. This is what can lure occasional users to more intense use, and addiction quickly develops when the effects create a sense or normality. This is called physical dependence. Immediate effects of opiate abuse include the following:
- Extreme relaxation
- Decreased sensation of pain
- Decreased sexual drive
Effects of Opiate Abuse on the Brain
Opiates bind to specific receptors in the brain, called neurotransmitters. They control moods, movements and physiology. The physiological effects of opiate use include changes in digestion, body temperature and breathing. When people take opiates, it causes the neurotransmitters in the brain to fire at a high rate that would normally only occur during times of extreme stress. The body gets used to this process and becomes physically dependent on the drugs. Sudden withdrawal of the drug becomes a major shock to the nervous systems, and for chronic users, it may result in a fatality.
Long-term Effects of Opiate Abuse
Opiates can have damaging affects on the body, and the complications only compound with prolonged use. Long-term abuse of opiates can have serious and severe consequences, which can include the following:
- Infections of the heart lining and valves
- Abscesses (with injection usage)
- Collapsed veins (with injection usage)
- Damage to the liver, lungs and kidneys
All of these conditions should be considered severe and require oversight from a physician to treat.
Effects of Opiate Abuse on Pregnant Women
Pregnant women can also suffer extreme effects if they are abusing opiates. These effects include the following:
- Spontaneous abortions
- Breech deliveries
- Premature births
Infants who are born to opiate addicted mothers would suffer similar withdrawal effects to that of an adult.
An opiate is a sedative narcotic containing opium or one or more of its natural or synthetic derivatives such as heroin, morphine and codeine. Any of these drugs work to dull the senses and provide relaxation. When taken correctly, they are used as painkillers and can be helpful as a prescribed method of coping of pain. With extended usage, opiates can become quickly addicting once a tolerance is built and physical dependence is established. In the culture of substance abuse, opiates have a rapidly growing population of users. Opiates can be injected, smoked, taken orally in pill form or snorted. Opiates in any form are dangerous because of their addictive qualities and should only be taken under the supervision of a medical professional.
Opiate Addiction Help
The severe effects of being an opiate abuser should be recognized as soon as possible. If you or someone you know is suffering as an opiate abuser, contact our toll-free helpline at (888) 858-5708. Call 24 hours a day to see what the best steps are to break the addiction. We can help you overcome your addiction. Please call now.