Opioids have been a part of pain management for years, but recently, opioid abuse has become increasingly prevalent in society. The opioid epidemic in America has become a crucial issue, as the number of deaths associated with opioid abuse continues to rise. Not only is this epidemic affecting adults, but also youth and young adults. It is important to understand the opioid effects, dangers, addiction, and available treatments to help combat the opioid epidemic. Please visit EMRGENT – Substance Abuse EMR Software for more info.
Opioids, also known as narcotics, are a class of drugs that relieve pain by attaching to opioid receptors in the brain, spinal cord, and other areas of the body. Doctors can prescribe opioids for legitimate medical purposes like pain management, but people also widely misuse them for their euphoric effects. Opioids, like oxycodone, hydrocodone, fentanyl, among others, can cause drowsiness, confusion, nausea, constipation, and respiratory depression. Respiratory depression is a severe side effect of opioids, as it can lead to slow and shallow breathing, which can ultimately lead to death in higher doses. Typically, doctors use opioids to manage acute pain after surgery or injury, or chronic pain, but opioids still pose risks.
One of the biggest dangers of opioid use or misuse is addiction. When someone takes opioids regularly, their brains adapt to the drug, making them feel like they need it to function normally. Addiction to opioids can lead to the person taking higher doses, which can increase the risk of overdose. Opioid overdose can lead to decease, slow breathing or breathing stopping, reduced heart rate and loss of consciousness. Addiction is not just a physical dependence on the drug, but a mental one too. It can be difficult to quit opioids once a person becomes addicted, as they experience withdrawal symptoms such as sweating, diarrhea, muscle aches, and mood swings.
It is essential to have an opioid addiction treatment plan to overcome addiction. There are many different avenues that someone addicted to opioids can take. Treatment can include medication-assisted treatment, cognitive-behavioral therapy, group therapy, and participation in support groups. Medication-assisted treatment involves using medications such as methadone and buprenorphine to help reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Cognitive-behavioral therapy can help a person identify triggers that lead to drug use and develop coping strategies to help change behavior. Support groups such as Narcotics Anonymous and SMART Recovery can offer guidance, education, and a community of people facing similar situations.
In conclusion, opioid use, especially misuse and addiction, can have severe impacts on individuals and society. The opioid epidemic has caused loss and pain for many, but there are effective treatment options to overcome this addiction. Understanding the effects and risks of opioid use can help prevent addiction and promote awareness, making it crucial to educate ourselves and others. We urge you to work with your medical provider to identify the right medication for safe pain management and reach out to support organizations such as SAMHSA’s National Helpline or the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator to find out about further resources available.
Where Are Opioids Used For?
Doctors use different types of prescribed opioids to treat various medical conditions. In cases where other medications have not been effective, doctors generally prescribe opioid drugs to treat moderate to severe pain.
Opioids can also be used for the treatment of certain types of cancer pain. Some opioids like heroin, however, are illegal drugs and not prescribed as they do not have an accepted medical use.
How Do Opioids Work? Opioid Receptors
An opioid works by attaching itself to the opioid receptors on the nerve cells in the brain. When this happens, the drug then blocks pain signals to make you calm and happy. Opioids do this by flooding your brain with dopamine.
Dopamine is a naturally-occurring chemical in our brain that our brain uses to reward our life-sustaining activities or behaviors. By associating an activity with pleasure caused by dopamine, the brain teaches us to do it over and over again. Unfortunately, the same chemical that produces euphoric effects in drug abusers also contributes to their addiction.
What Are the Short-Term Effects of Opioid Use?
The short-term effects include drowsiness, confusion, nausea, constipation, euphoria, sleepiness, vomiting, clouded thinking, respiratory problems, gradual overdose, and sexual dysfunction.
What Are the Long-Term Effects of Opioid Use?
Long-term use of prescription opioids even without abuse can cause some people to develop opioid addiction. This means that their body has adapted to the drug as normally present in the body and therefore, it can only function normally with it.