How Do Opioids Affect the Brain and the Body?
Opioids are a class of drugs which include prescription pain relievers like codeine, morphine, oxycodone, and hydrocodone. Illegal drugs like heroin, and synthetic drugs like fentanyl and methadone are opioids.
When used properly, prescription opioids can be helpful pain-relief, cough suppression and antidiarrheal medications. The danger, however, is that opioids carry a high potential for abuse, dependence and addiction.
How dangerous are they?
Opiates can easily be abused (not taken as prescribed). Destructive opiate use can lead to a life of addiction, overdose, and death. In fact, a couple years ago for the first time, overdoses on prescription medications outnumbered overdoses on illegal drugs.
–Dr. Karl Benzio, Co-Founder and Chancellor, Honey Lake Clinic and Director of Excellence in Christian Psychiatry, Honey Lake Clinic
Opioid misuse will negatively affect your body, your brain … your life.
The physical signs of opioid misuse—its effects on your body—are usually the first to become observable. Things like drowsiness, sedation, constricted pupils, slowed breathing, constipation, and losing consciousness are just a start. In pretty short order, continued opioid abuse will cause more significant cognitive, cardiovascular and respiratory concerns.
With continued use, you build up a tolerance, meaning your body will require more of the drug to feel the same effect. The medications will no longer overcome the pain, leading to a worsening pain syndrome. You become physically dependent on the opioid, to the degree you will suffer withdrawals if you stop using it.
Opioid misuse can cause serious psychological issues. Prescription drug abuse significantly increases your risk for other serious mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, anger, impulsiveness, hallucinations and delusions.
Opioid abuse interferes with your ability to process information. You’ll experience deficits in cognitive ability resulting in memory loss, confusion and an overall dulling of your mind. You’ll have trouble concentrating. You’ll be easily distracted. As these symptoms mount, they will impair your judgment and decision-making to the degree it starts spilling into all areas of your life. You’ll get to the place where you think your only option is more of the opiate to dull the psychological pain.
At this point, the opioids—not you—are in control of your life. Your mind, body and actions are now manipulated by your desire for more.
What opioid abuse starts to looks like in a loved one:
- Increasing secretiveness
- Lame excuses
- Lack of self-control and self-discipline
- Impaired or poor decision making
- Less reliable
- Less trustworthy
- Struggles with openness, honesty, intimacy and vulnerability
- Strained relationships (friends, family, employers)
These tell-tale signs begin to multiply with your need for quick fixes. Opiates cost money, and when you’ll exhaust all of yours and then all you can beg, borrow and steal to feed your spiraling addiction. For an opioid addict, financial and legal troubles are almost guaranteed.
Finally, the most serious dangers of untreated opioid addiction are the spiritual consequences. As you become more connected to opioids, you become disconnected from God. God is no longer on the throne of your heart, but rather you’ve promoted opioids to be the master and idol you serve. You lose touch with the power, peace, and influence the Holy Spirit brings in these desperate times.
“Addiction has a way of taking the top spot in our hearts, minds, and lives,” says Dr. Benzio, “As it does, you begin believing the lies of addiction rather than God’s truth. The path of addiction that lies ahead is full of destruction, disappointment, and despair.”
Don’t continue down this dangerous and deadly path. Get help now.
It is important to consider the transition to long-term care when selecting an opiate detox program. Detox is not the end of recovery but is just the first of many steps in the treatment and transformation process. After detox, the body doesn’t need the opioid anymore, but psychologically and spiritually, the addict will still have trouble functioning without using opioids.
Many people put in the hard work and experienced the pain of withdrawal, think they’ve beaten their opioid addiction, skip treatment … and relapse.
If you or someone you love is abusing opioids or is an addict, don’t sell your healing process short. We understand what you’re going through. Let us help you.
With the help of Honey Lake Clinic, a safe medical environment, with 24-hour nursing care, doctors and psychiatric specialists—all administering care from a Christian worldview and perspective—you can achieve true sobriety and lasting transformation.