How Opioid Addiction Affects the Brain and Body
Addiction is a complicated disease that affects virtually every part of the body. This unfortunate reality is true for the 5-8 million people struggling with opioid addiction, according to the Mayo Clinic. Opioids change the way the brain works by binding to receptors that copy the pain-relieving effects of chemicals naturally found in the brain. This relief from chronic pain can be a catalyst for continued use of the drug and make quitting extremely difficult. In fact, the National Health Institute defines opioid addiction as, “a powerful, compulsive urge to use opioid drugs, even when they are no longer medically required.”
Short Term Effects of Opioid Addiction
Opioids can take effect within a matter of minutes and can be potentially lethal if too much is consumed. Common short term effects include:
- Loss of appetite
- Slowed breathing
- Nausea or vomiting
- Loss of consciousness or coma
- Dry mouth
- Weight gain
- Change in sexual functioning
Long Term Effects of Opioid Addiction
Due to the way opioids change pathways in the brain, effects of opioid addiction can be seen for weeks after last use. Long term effects can be:
- Chemical and physical dependence. Addiction to opioids greatly increases someone’s chance to try and subsequently become addicted to heroin if prescription opioids are unavailable.
- The development of other mental illnesses such as Bipolar.
- Weakens the immune system and decreases the ability to fight infection.
- According to the Center for Disease Control, healthcare providers have seen a 350% increase of Hepatitis C cases due to the opioid epidemic.
- Infectious Endocarditis, an often fatal infection of the heart. This can cause lifelong cardiac issues if not treated.
- Overdose and in some cases death.
Signs of Opioid Addiction
It is important to know the signs of opioid addiction so you can help if a loved one is struggling. While not everyone will present with these signs, here are some signs to watch out for:
- Avoiding family, friends, or social situations
- Decreased interest in hobbies or things they once enjoyed
- Changes in personality such as irritability, mood swings, or anxiety
- Taking money or items from friends and family or an increase in financial troubles
- Trouble with the law
- Having flu-like symptoms without being sick
- Pinpoint pupils
- Disregard for hygiene
- Rapid weight loss
- Increase or decrease in amount of sleep
- Withdrawal symptoms
- Taking more opioids than prescribed
Opioid Addiction Treatment
The first step to overcoming opioid addiction is receiving treatment from a quality, experienced, and certified addiction treatment center. At The Source Treatment Center, their compassionate clinicians work with their clients to develop a comprehensive and individualized treatment plan. If a medical detox is necessary, The Source will connect you with one of their detox facilities that have been rigorously inspected to meet their standards. This FARR certified facility upholds a strict Code of Ethics to ensure patients are receiving the best possible care. Upon arrival to their pristine, luxury center, clients undergo a thorough medical and psychosocial exam to assist in developing the treatment plan. They offer several levels of care and a variety of different therapies to address root causes of addiction, such as trauma and underlying mental illness. To find out more about how The Source can help you or a loved one struggling with opioid addiction, call our treatment specialist at (800) 204-0418 or online at www.thesourcetreatmentcenter.com.