The Drug Pandemic: What You Should Know About Opioid Side Effects

opioid side effects

1 in 3 adults knows of someone who struggles with opioid addiction.

It starts with relief from pain and can turn into a life-threatening addiction. Increased opioid abuse has led to a nationwide crisis in America, where many adults, teens, and elderly are struggling without treatment.

Considering taking opioids to help with pain management? Or know of a loved one suffering from opioid withdrawal?

Here’s everything you should know about opioid side effects and how it can quickly turn into an addiction.

Prescribing Painkillers: What to Expect from Opioid Side Effects

Opioids often get prescribed to people recovering from surgery or a serious injury. They help to provide relief for those experiencing chronic pain — that which cannot get reduced with over-the-counter medicines alone.

Opioids work by blocking pain receptors in the brain. This results in a physical change in the body’s response to how it feels pain.

This narcotic gets derived from the poppy plant. Yet, many opioid substances on the market are also man-made.

Pain relief from opiates comes in many variations, with Percocet, Vicodin, and OxyContin being the most popular type of prescriptions.

The Side Effects: From Mild to Serious

The most common side effects are nausea, drowsiness, and mental confusion. Users also experience constipation, as the digestive system slows down.

Expect your mind to be in a state of fogginess when on the drug. This is why doctors recommend not to drive a car when under the influence of opioids.

Respiratory issues can also occur. The drug can cause breathing to slow down to dangerous levels. This can be fatal if the body does not get enough oxygen.

Heavy users may even experience brain sedation. They may find themselves slipping in and out of consciousness throughout the day.

Opioids also provide a feeling of euphoria and comfort. This is due to an increase in dopamine production.

This is one of the main risk factors for opioid abuse. People enjoy the feeling of being high and find themselves craving the drug.

Drugs like Percocet also contain acetaminophen. This can cause damage to the liver and weaken the immune system over time. This also brings about opioid-related disorders, like a risk for heart infection.

The most serious side effect of narcotic abuse is a possible overdose. This leaves opioids to be one of the top causes of death in America.

When It Turns to Addiction

Over 2 million Americans are struggling with addiction and abusing pain medications. The problem is that opioids should only be taken as a short-term solution for pain.

Yet, people are finding that their tolerance builds up with opioids. They grow a dependence on the drug to get through the day. This is one of the main causes of opioid addiction.

This turns into a problem when people begin taking a larger dose than prescribed, or they start to abuse the drug to get high. Many find that they can’t stop using the drug and become dependent upon it for normal functioning.

The psychological effects of opiates can cause changes in behavior. Symptoms like irritability, anxiety, and psychosis can occur as drug cravings set in. Opiate addiction can also increase the risk of developing depression.

The dangers of opioid addiction can also lead to heroin abuse. As many as 86% of heroin users first started with an addiction to opiates. This is because once the opiates are no longer available, the addict must get their fix, so they turn to the streets for heroin instead.

The Pandemic Continues…

Much of the population believes it’s easy to find opioids without a prescription. This becomes even scarier when one considers how easy it is for younger generations to get their hands on illegal opioids.

Death as the result of an opioid overdose is also increasing. Painkiller overdose is now responsible for 50,000 deaths a year. It’s become even more fatal than car accidents and gun violence.

It’s also becoming a risk for pregnant women. Those addicted during their pregnancy subject their babies to Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome. This causes newborns to have withdrawal symptoms after birth.

People who switch from opiates to heroin are also contributing to new health epidemics in America. An increase in sharing needles has bought about a higher risk of hepatitis C among heroin users.

Battling Opioid Addiction

Only 1 in 10 Americans who suffer from opioid addiction get the treatment they need. It’s crucial to learn and recognize the symptoms of opiate abuse. If you or a loved one is suffering from addiction, recovery is possible.

The government is currently working to cut down on opioid production. To help decrease addiction, it’s also important to focus on awareness and getting people proper treatment. Rather than punishing those who abuse opioids.

Local treatment facilities offer specialized counseling, detox programs, and therapy techniques. Support groups can also help those suffering from addiction.

The road to recovery will require a great deal of time, energy, and commitment. Here’s more on how to overcome anxiety during the treatment process.

Opioid-related withdrawal symptoms mimic the flu and can last up to a month. Yet, there are also medicines that can help lessen the symptoms of withdrawal. Naloxone is another medication that can save lives by reversing the effects that cause an overdose.

Therapy gets recommended afterward to help with any psychological symptoms of addiction. It’s also important to avoid any triggers that can cause a relapse, such as drinking. Find support and help from family, friends, and loved ones.

Finding the Right Treatment Center

Making the decision to get help is the first step towards recovery. From there, you’ll want to choose a location that provides sufficient support and the latest in treatment options.

Consider what type of environment and standards of practice you want to detox in. Some patients prefer a holistic approach to healing. They seek mental relaxation from gardens, waterfalls, and meditation pavilions on the property.

Think about what level of privacy you prefer. Some seek a calming and comfortable environment best for isolation. Others enjoy living areas for interacting and finding support from other patients.

Here’s more on what to expect in residential therapy during an opiate detox.

Breaking the Addiction and the Road Ahead

Opioid side effects may start mild. Yet, they are capable of wreaking havoc on an entire country and claiming lives. If taking opioids for pain management, it’s important to pay attention to your body and mind.

Always look out for signs of a growing tolerance or changes in your own behavior. Opioid addiction can strike in both physical and psychological ways.

Learn more about how a treatment facility can help break your addiction and get your life back on track.