February 19, 2021

Short and Long-Term Effects of Opioid Addiction

Impacts of Opioid Addiction

Over 2.5 million Americans over age 12 struggle with opioid addiction, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). It’s a devastating disorder that often begins innocently and ends tragically. Learning about the short-term and long-term effects of opioid use can help you find help if this disorder takes hold of your life or that of a loved one.

What Are Opioids?

Opioids represent one of the most potent and misused drugs today. They include the illegal drug heroin and legal pain relievers like oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, and fentanyl. As the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) explains, opioids work by interacting with receptors on nerve cells in the brain and nervous system to produce pleasurable effects and relieve pain.

About Opioid Addiction

We’ve all heard stories of once-healthy, happy people who develop life-destroying addiction to pain killers, seemingly overnight, because of an athletic injury or serious illness. That’s how it often begins. Legitimate use can turn into dependence if the drug is not taken with careful medical supervision.

While noting that each case is different, Johns Hopkins Medicine says it may take only a couple of weeks for a user to become dependent. The pleasurable feelings created in the brain are so profound, the ASAM says they can lead to “an individual pathologically pursuing reward or relief by substance use and other behaviors.”

Signs of opioid addiction include:

  • Self-isolation, avoiding family and friends
  • Neglecting their children or their job
  • Fatigue and depression
  • Moodiness, Irritability, nervousness
  • Sudden financial problems, possibly because of drug purchases
  • Troubles with the law
  • New friends who are markedly different from their old ones
  • Lack of personal hygiene
  • Loss of interest in hobbies and other activities that used to interest them

Short-Term Effects of Opioids

The immediate effects of opioid use are related to their purpose. They’re meant to suppress pain sensors in the brain, so breathing and movement become slower. The user may get sleepy. If they take an overdose, their heart and lungs can malfunction, and they could fall into a coma.

Long-Term Effects of Opioids

Regular, long-term use without proper medical supervision can lead to physical dependence, addiction, overdose, and even death. The body gets used to a certain dose and needs more and more to feel the same relief.

If the dose is reduced or eliminated, the user will feel withdrawal symptoms that can include muscle and bone pain, restlessness, diarrhea, insomnia, chills, nausea, and vomiting.

Opioid Addiction Treatment

The NIH recommends treating opioid addiction with Medication Assisted Treatment, which combines medication with behavioral counseling for a whole-patient approach. Medications reduce the painful effects of withdrawal and enable the body to adjust to the drug’s absence. Counseling and support help the client cope with the psychological and emotional effects of drug dependence.

Muse Treatment Center offers medically supervised rehab that includes detox combined with intensive therapy. The client typically receives medication on an outpatient basis or via prescription, with ongoing maintenance therapy. Some individuals may opt-out of medication, a decision best made with assistance from a professional.

The treatment specialists at Muse Treatment have found that detox followed by professional counseling services and individual and group therapy produces higher success rates and is critical in helping recovering users achieve long-term sobriety.

If you or a loved one needs help in overcoming an opioid addiction, including dependence on heroin, contact Muse Treatment Center at 800-426-1818 today. Trained counselors are available to assist you in finding the right solution for recovery to overcome opioid addiction.

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