Harmful Effects of Opioids and What You Can Do To Stop Them

Article by Vikram Tarugu

In the past few decades, drug abuse has been on the rise, with more overdoses and deaths than history has seen. One particular drug category, opioids, has become one of the worst drug crises in American history.

In 2015, it was reported that the number of deaths caused by this drug family was equivalent to the number of deaths caused by car crashes. The deaths caused by heroin, a type of opioid, surpassed the number of deaths caused by gun homicides.

The misuse of opioids has become an enormous problem in much of North America. Since the 1990s, the prescribing of this drug has increased alarmingly and the number of deaths along with it. 64,000 Americans have overdosed on this drug in 2016.

If you compare that to the number of overdoses in 1999, which is 4,000, you will see how the opioid epidemic has become a significant problem for the United States.

A Solution for Pain?

Opioids are strong painkillers that have the power to hinder pain signals along the passageways of the brain and spinal cord, blocking any pain that you may be experiencing.

In its wake, the brain produces more dopamine in the body that creates intense sensations of relaxation and euphoria. Despite the way it makes you feel, it has the potential to make you stop breathing if too much is in your body.

This is how they work so efficiently to relieve pain, but because of the high it can make you feel, they have a very addictive nature. Doctors prescribe the medicine to their patients, and in most cases, this is not the problem.

The problem lies after doctors are done prescribing their patient with the drug upon signs of addiction. Most times when the supply is cut off, patients can find it in illegal markets.

Another problem is that patients aren’t the only ones that are addicted. There is a large number of people that get the pills from these illegal markets and from the patients that have them, enabling widespread abuse of the drug.

Harmful Effects of Opioids

Drug addiction has a very harmful effect on the person taking it, and those around them. In cases related to heroin, the transmission of diseases like hepatitis and HIV have increased due to indirectly sharing blood.

Although hepatitis is curable, it takes a lot of time and energy to cure, and HIV is incurable. Also, in recent years, the amount of children put in foster care homes has increased dramatically due to their parents overdosing, dying, or parental neglect.

Having children is a blessing, and addiction of any kind can hinder the beauty of it. Drug and alcohol addiction is especially harmful because it can cause significant harm to your children, with two out of every 1,000 unable to stay in their home due to the drug addiction of a parent.

Despite all that drug addiction can cause, there are ways to help those that are addicted that want to change their life around.

The Cure for Opioid Addiction

Many medications are used for different types of drugs that can help with getting rid of drug addiction. A drug called methadone can counteract the effect that opioids have on the brain.

This suppresses the need to use the opioid and erases the effects it has on the body. But, because it is hard to get, inconveniences a lot of the people since they have to pick up the medication every day, and is short supply, it doesn’t help as much as it could.

Buprenorphine is a drug that is prescribed by a doctor that you can also take to combat the effects that opioids may have on your life. Since it is a partial opioid, instead of a full opiate like methadone, it is safer than methadone in that it has a less addictive nature when added with naloxone and has antidepressant effects as well.

To combat overdosing, there also are clinics that allow you to take the drug that you are dependent on under supervision to enable you to use it correctly and safely.

Also, the drug mentioned above, naloxone, is a drug that binds to the opioid receptors in the brain before the opioid drug has a chance to. This can be used in emergency situations where you are in danger of overdosing if taken in enough time.

Drug Detoxification Programs

The methods that help with drug addiction are implemented through drug detoxification programs. These are programs that steadily stop the dependency of the drug users and provide support along the way.

The program is designed to help the affected person combat withdrawal symptoms as they come, stabilize the symptoms, and work towards stopping dependency altogether.

It is important to note, however, that drug detoxification programs are typically ideal for the short-term. It is strongly recommended to follow up with therapy to help with long-term issues and to prevent the possibility of relapse.

When the drug detox begins, you start to feel uncomfortable symptoms such as anxiety, sweating, agitation, muscle aches, and insomnia. This can start within a few hours of the last dosage, depending on how much was taken and how strong the addiction is.

These symptoms don’t seem to be that difficult to handle, but after more time passes by, some patients may become aggressive, suicidal, experience psychosis, and become to harming themselves or those around them. The staff must work to stabilize these problems to ensure safety before moving on to the next step in the process.

Opioid Detoxification

For opioid detox specifically, the drugs methadone and buprenorphine mentioned above are used to combat these withdrawal symptoms. Since these medications contain opioids themselves, they can stabilize the need for the drug, and have to be tapered off during the stabilization process since they can cause withdrawal symptoms as well.

There are different types of drug detox for different kinds of drugs, and no one program is right for everyone. One form of drug detox is stopping all use of the drugs, with no help other than psychological supervision. This one is the hardest to through.

For those addicted to opioids, this can be a dangerous method since the drugs have a different effect on the brain, which is why there are substitute drugs to counteract the opioids.

The duration of the drug detoxification program varies from person to person. Many factors affect it, such as how long the drug has been used, in what amounts, the combination of drugs used, and any mental or physical disorders you have had already had. It can take even longer if relapse occurs.

Conclusion

The best part of using a drug detox program compared to trying to do it on your own is that most offer other services that are available during and after the stabilization process. Most include services like supervising any medicine intake you may need to take, life and educational classes, and individual therapy to cope with the effects of the drug addiction.

There are many different ways to find the help you need to overcome opioid addiction or any addiction that has an adverse effect on your life. You have a lot to choose from and a lot of ways to change, so we hope you take the next step towards improving your life for the better or someone else’s who made need help.

If you or a loved one are in the throes of a dangerous opioid addiction, and are ready to receive the help you’ve been needing, feel free to give Detox of South Florida a call or email today!

Dr. Vikram Tarugu MD

Dr. Vikram Tarugu, is a best-in-class, board certified gastroenterologist in South Florida. Specializing in the diagnosis and treatments of gastrointestinal tract conditions. Dr. Tarugu is currently in private practice and has privileges at Raulerson hospital. He is also the CEO of Detox of South Florida. He is routinely rated as one of the best GI doctors and liver doctors in Florida. Patients through out the US have sought his expertise and seek his help when a second opinion is needed with difficult and chronic Gastro intestinal and liver diseases.

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