Addiction is a disease. Genetic predisposition makes some more likely to become an addict. Much research has looked into the way drugs alter the brain. When a person uses drugs, the brain is altered in a way that causes people to obsess on self-destructive behaviors and cravings. The most common types of addictions are alcohol and drugs. Alcoholism is one of the most difficult disorders to overcome. Opiates are also very addictive, and they are a struggle to give up. Habitual opiate use has long-term effects on the body. But this can be overcome and hope is out there for addicts who are struggling. Read on for the long-term effects of these deadly drugs.
Opiate Usage Alters The Brain
Morphine, which is used for pain treatments, is a substance that is very similar to opiates in its effects. Opiates are derived from the opium poppy flower. This drug mimics natural chemicals in the body. It has a calming effect on those who are under great stress. It can also help those who are in great pain. They are often prescribed after a surgical procedure, accident, or any other painful illness. When an opiate is ingested, the drug bonds with the brain’s opioid receptors. It causes a sedative effect and relaxes the user. If there is any physical pain, it will melt away under the trance of this drug. Tolerance to opiates forms quickly. Many people take a higher dose than what is therapeutically necessary in order to chase the feeling they felt before. Under high doses, opiates can give the user euphoria. The brain is flooded with all sorts of feel-good neurochemicals like dopamine and serotonin, which cause pleasurable sensations.
When these pleasure pathways are activated within the brain, it causes the person to crave the same feelings again and again. The user associates the high dose with that pleasurable feeling, so they intensely long to feel that way again. The physical tolerance requires more and more of the drug to achieve that euphoric “high.” The opiate receptors in the brain bond with the drug. This causes the need for prolonged and habitual use of opiates. The brain will also develop additional receptors that will bind with the drug. The user will frequently escalate their dosage to achieve the desired effects, which is a dangerous game to play.
Neurochemicals and Hormones Production Tapers With Opiate Usage
When the drugs are not in the system of the user, this deficiency will cause problems with the brain’s chemistry. The brain will taper the production of both neurochemicals and hormones. The brain will look to the opiates to provide the production of the needed chemicals. Uncomfortable, and even painful, withdrawal effects happen almost immediately. When the system is low on opiates, the brain receptors become vacant. The consequence of these fluctuations has an unbelievable effect. One result of these changes is that the person loses their ability to cope with pain naturally. Their body needs some sort of pain medication to deal with anything from a headache to an injury. A decreased pain tolerance is commonplace with long-term opiate usage, making the user miserable and sick.
As the opiate levels in the body begin to drop, the pain can become more intense. The user must keep a constant level of the drug in their system to find any relief. Even taking another pain medication can be ineffective, as the drug won’t provide the brain with the craved substance. The brain’s available receptors now crave certain opiates, and it is difficult to switch the chemical structure to function with the use of another substance.
Understanding Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome
There are studies that show that a person’s mood can be affected by opiate usage. Since the neurochemicals play a huge role in the regulation of moods and emotions, the addict will not have normal function until their body returns to a healthy level of these chemicals. For this to happen, a person must refrain from using the drug for an extended period of time. The brain’s chemistry will stabilize and neurological function will return, once the person is sober, clean and happy.
However, there are some things that will remain with the addict for a long time after the use of opiates ceases. PAWS, or post-acute withdrawal syndrome, occurs with habitual users that have used for long periods of time. These people may experience insomnia, nausea, diarrhea, hot flashes, cold sweats, cramping, muscle twitching, anxiety, depression, and agitation. The opiate withdrawal timeline is similar for all users. Most will begin a detoxification process within 12 to 36 hours. The process will last around five days. However, the longer term effects will go on for some time.
There Is Hope With A 12-Step Program
The psychological symptoms associated with long-term opiate use is by far the most persistent. Without the use of the painkillers that have become commonplace in the body, individuals will have undiluted emotions that are overwhelming to deal with — seemingly overtaking the addict’s life. It will take a while for a person to adjust to the changes and return to a normal emotional state. Because of the chemicals and hormones that are affected, it is commonplace for people to experience sadness, depression, and mood swings.
The long term effects of opiates are devastating. Thankfully, users can recover by the help of a twelve-step program. Having the support and the help of other recovering addicts can be life altering and life saving . The intense cravings will persist for years to come, but they can be managed. Opiates are one of the most dangerous and addictive chemical substances around. There are many beneficial uses of these drugs, but the misuse has cost many their lives and many families to mourn. If you’re looking for Treatment, you can contact a Long Island Rehab for help with substance abuse.