Effects of Opioids on the Body

Chris Clancy

August 8, 2018

There are patients who come through our JourneyPure facilities with an addiction to prescription pain medication who say it’s the one drug they couldn’t shake.

Michaela S had abused alcohol, marijuana, even meth. But it was her addiction to opioids that ultimately brought her to treatment at JourneyPure.

She described herself as “beaten and broken down,” lying and stealing to feed her addiction. And when she would try to quit, the withdrawals were too much to bear.

Ashley W says she took a downward spiral after a series of surgeries spurred her addiction to pain medications. She spent nearly four years trying to kick the addiction but she, like Michaela, couldn’t function day-to-day without the pills.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than 2 million people in the U.S. abuse opioids. Sadly, more people die from a prescription opioid overdose than from all other drugs combined.

Short-Term Effects of Opioids

When used to manage pain, opioids are very effective. As soon as they are abused, though, they become extremely addictive.

There is a long list of short-term effects that come with abusing the drug, which speaks to the drug’s impact on the brain and central nervous system. It slows down the chemical processes, which can result in slurred speech and a lack of focus. Opioids’ other side effects include shallow breathing and, if taken in large doses, going in and out of consciousness, which also known as “nodding out.”

As the drug takes control of the body, mood swings and rapid fluctuations of temperature, causing hot flashes or chills, can also result. In addition, the more drugs used, the higher the user’s tolerance level. This increases the potential for overdose.

Painful Withdrawals

Clinicians say it can take anywhere from 72 hours to a week for the withdrawal symptoms of opioid addiction to subside. Symptoms during this period include muscle aches, excessive sweating, trouble sleeping, and anxiety. More intense symptoms include abdominal cramping, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, rapid heartbeat, and blurred vision.

Long-term Effects of Opiates

Experts are still studying the long-term effect of opioid abuse on the brain. They know that opioids slow breathing, which can affect the amount of oxygen that reaches the brain. This condition is known as hypoxia.

Help for Opiate Addiction at JourneyPure

Both Michaela and Ashley are in recovery and feel like they can lead healthy lives free of addiction, thanks to the care of JourneyPure’s opioid rehab program. If you are a loved one is abusing prescription medications, we can help. Once in recovery, you’ll enjoy the restoration of your mind, body, and spirit.