Consequences of Opioid Abuse

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Many people are still under the guise that drugs are found on street corners and not in our medicine cabinets. Prescription drugs are just as widely abused as illegal drugs, and unfortunately they are usually easier to obtain. Due to the prevalent medical usage of prescription opioids, many people underestimate the effects and consequences of opioid abuse. 

In this article from Avenues Recovery we’ll explore the range of damages that opioid abuse can cause.

Understanding the Consequences of Opioid Abuse

In order to understand why opioid addiction is an epidemic in thousands of American cities, we first have to understand what an opioid is.

What Are Opioids?

An opioid is a medicine that is used to help relieve pain. Opioids can be prescribed for any number of things including post-surgery, injuries, dental procedures, or even chronic conditions. Opiates can be found in legal drugs such as fentanyl, codeine, and morphine, in addition to illegal drugs like heroin and opium.

How Opioid Addiction Occurs

Opioids easily lend themselves to an addiction because they alter brain chemistry and create artificial endorphins that block pain and make people feel good. Once someone begins to abuse opioids, their brain is no longer able to create endorphins on its own and it will start to rely on the artificial endorphins.

Cases of opioid addiction are vast because people can become dependent on the drug without realizing. This means that anyone, no matter who they are, can easily become addicted.

Effects of Opioid Addiction on Family Relationships

When a person has an addiction, it doesn’t just affect them and their health. It affects their families, loved ones, and friends in one of the worst ways.

  • Parent
    When a parent has an addiction, it creates a negative energy within the household that can begin to suck everyone in little by little. Entire families are then pulled into a whirlwind of pain, anger, disappointment, and resentment. Families don’t want to enable their addicted loved ones, but they also don’t want any harm to come to them. A child of an addicted parent will often act out and turn to destructive behaviours. Children can also take on a large amount of guilt, neglecting their own needs for those of the parent.
  • Partner
    It’s not easy to love someone with an addiction. Their behavior may change quickly, and they can become erratic if their drug of choice isn’t provided when they need it. Many times addicts will blame their partners for everything that has gone wrong in their life, leaving a partner with a lot of emotional baggage. Partners may then begin to try and overcompensate for the lack of relationship by working to cover up the pain, the addiction itself, and the guilt that comes with it. They may begin to feel as though they are not good enough for their loved one to make a change, and their self-esteem will likely suffer.
  • Child
    A parent’s job is to give their child the best life that they can. When a child becomes an addict, parents often feel that it is their fault that the child turned to a substance. It’s common for marriages to cease because all the focus is now on the addicted child. Not only does addiction affect a parent’s relationship with their spouse, but it has a significant impact on the relationship with the other children since one child is now getting all the attention while the others receive none.

Long Term Effects of Opioid Abuse on Communities

Families are not the only ones greatly affected by the opioid epidemics; communities often suffer in their own way. For communities, this means that there is a greater death toll and that friends and loved ones are affected by a potentially deadly disease.

Areas around the country have formed support groups, written to senators and state officials, and attempted to change the way substance abuse is viewed within the healthcare system. It’s a hard road that many face alone, but when communities stand together, they create an effort for positive change.

Effects of Opioid Abuse on the Body

Substance dependency has many risks, with the highest of those risks being death. Opioid use in particular can cause a range of effects on health [1], with many being unaware of the dangers of opioid abuse. 

Short Term Effects of Opioid Abuse on Health

Substance abuse in general can lead to numerous health problems including nausea, shallow breathing, and sedation. Opioid misuse in particular can cause any of the following:

  • slurred speech
  • confusion and poor judgment
  • pupil dilation
  • skin irritation
  • paranoia and,
  • lethargy

Long Term Effects of Opioid Abuse on the Body

When a person has an opioid dependency, the brain cannot produce endorphins naturally and begins to crave more of the substance. Due to this, many addicts may form a tolerance to the substance, and their bodies will require more and more of the drug to get the high they need.

Many times, dependency can lead to opioid overdose and eventually death.

Prolonged use of opioids can damage various systems within the body, causing long term health problems, some of which are irreparable. 

Common long term side effects of opioid abuse include damage to the gastrointestinal system, in particular chronic constipation.Studies have also shown strong correlation between opioid use and problems with other organ systems, including:

  • the cardiovascular system, 
  • the reproductive system, and 
  • the respiratory system. 

The consequences of opioid abuse are wide ranging, but all are serious and have the potential to be fatal.

What to Know About the Consequences of Opioid Abuse

Addiction is a rampant disease. Opioid abuse has become very common in the United States, and it’s important to be aware of the long term effects and consequences of opioid abuse. If you or a family member are struggling with addiction, reach out for help now. Getting proper opioid addiction treatment through outpatient or residential addiction treatment will help you to get your life back on track, and limit the damage caused by substance abuse. 

Our friendly staff at Avenues Recovery are highly trained and can help you in the best way possible. Reach out today through our contact us page, or give us a call on 603-546-7881.

Learn more about drug addiction and dependency on our website.

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