Long Term Side Effects of Opioids

Opioid use disorder has become a major problem across the United States over the past two decades.  Prescription opioids administered to American pain sufferers, while seen initially as a saving grace for many, have become an issue that federal, state, and local governments have all had to address.  Although very useful for pain management, prescription synthetic opioids come with a number of possible dangers.  Additionally, illicit opioids like heroin still remain on the drug scene and are sometimes combined with opioids used for the treatment of chronic pain.  

All of this information regarding the adverse effects of opioids can sound daunting if one of your loved ones has gotten involved in opioid abuse.  However, there is help.  TruPath Recovery centers offer comprehensive behavioral therapy treatment programs in fully accredited drug abuse treatment facilities for those in need.  TruPath has multiple locations so that we can assist as many people as possible struggling with opioid misuse or addiction begin their recovery.  Call us today to find out all of the services we offer. 

What Drugs Are Opioids?

Opioids are a class of drugs naturally found in the opium poppy plant. Prescription opioids and illicit opioids both work in the brain to produce a variety of effects, including the relief of acute pain.  They are used for legitimate medical reasons, often after surgery and for chronic pain management.  Opioids can be divided into a few groups, including prescription opioids, such as OxyContin and Vicodin. Fentanyl, also a synthetic opioid, but that is 50–100 times more potent than morphine, has recently made a serious impact and is attributed to the rise in opioid overdoses in the United States. Heroin and opium, long-time street drugs, are illegal substances still in use today. 

Impacts of Long-Term Opioid Use

The first thing people think about regarding the use or abuse of illicit and prescription opioids is addiction and the risks of overdose.  However, there are many other serious adverse effects of longterm use, including an increased risk of fracture, sleep apnea, respiratory depression, immunosuppression, chronic constipation, bowel dysfunction, myocardial infarction, dry mouth, and tooth decay.  Here is a breakdown of the adverse effects of opioids: 

1. Opioids and the Brain

Opioid doses affect the brain’s “reward circuit,” resulting in feelings of euphoria, but can also cause drowsiness, mental confusion, nausea and bowel dysfunction. At high doses they can cause respiratory depression. When the mental reward of taking opioids fades, the individual both consciously and unconsciously wants to return to that state. This leads to opioid abuse and can very quickly result in opioid addiction. 


2. Opioids and the Liver

There can be negative effects and risks even while using prescription opioids as directed by your doctor. Digestive issues like chronic constipation and bowel dysfunction are often experienced, and liver damage can occur, too. The possibility of liver damage can be increased if opioid misuse or legitimate use is coupled with acetaminophen. 

3. Opioid Dependence

Opioid addiction can often happen very quickly.  Additionally, anyone taking opioids for legitimate or illicit reasons increases the risk of building up a tolerance over time.  In many instances, recreation use and opioid abuse can lead to needing regular opioid doses just to operate and feel normal. Experts in the field of opioid abuse treatment refer to this as an opioid dependence, and it is a sure sign of opioid addiction. 

Opioid Rehab and Detox at TruPath Recovery

At TruPath Recovery, we have many levels of care for the treatment of opioid use disorder.  Opioid and other drug abuse rehab can often include several phases, from drug detox to inpatient behavioral therapy to outpatient opioid abuse counseling.  Our highly trained alcohol and drug abuse treatment specialists take our clients from day one of withdrawal symptoms to enrollment in an aftercare support program.  Call us any time at (251) 501-4357 to find out the options we have to offer you or your loved one regarding opioid rehab treatment.

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