Opiates, just like any other drug, are dangerous if abused. There’s a reason why they’re illegal. And today we are going to discuss some of those reasons.
We will be discussing both short term and long term effects of opiates, including heroin, morphine and thebaine. They all have the same methods of action anyway. These highly addictive substances are all derived from opium. There are natural, synthetic, and semi-synthetic types. Some of them have medical applications. They can be used as sedatives or painkillers. But drugs such as heroin are only used recreationally.
Even those that are distributed legally can quickly make a person dependent. It is so widely used that between 13 and 20 million people were said to have used opiates recreationally in 2013.
Readily prescribed and highly addictive, opiates present a very serious threat. It’s no surprise that it is among the most abused drugs in the United States. Let’s take a look at the various effects that opiates have on people who abuse it.
Opiates don’t just control pain; they can also produce some sort of “high” for the person using it. This makes the experience enjoyable and addictive. Fast-acting ones such as heroin are often injected, snorted, or smoked to produce instant feelings of euphoria.
Heroin produces an intense high but only lasts for a very short duration. Morphine’s effects last much longer, from 4 to 6 hours.
But aside from pain relief, sedation, and euphoria, opiates come with another short term effect: drowsiness. With its intense high and relaxing qualities, a person will not be able to focus their mind on things that need to be done. It reduces your reaction times, so driving becomes highly dangerous.
The mere presence of the drug in your vehicle is enough to cost you your license.
Users may also experience feelings of paranoia, nausea, and respiratory depression. It also comes with another obvious side effect that’s hard to hide: it causes your irises to relax, creating pinpoint pupils.
When continuously abused, opiates can cause frequent vomiting, abdominal distention, and bloating. It has adverse effects on your digestive system, as you may have already noticed from the other symptoms we listed above. It can also make the person constipated.
Your liver may also be damaged. This is especially true if a person abuses drugs that combine opiates and acetaminophen.
The person’s condition gets progressively worse as they continue to abuse these drugs. It could even lead to brain damage due to hypoxia. In the worst cases, people develop a tolerance and dependence for the opiates, meaning they can no longer go for too long without taking it.
By this time, the body has already grown used to the presence of the drugs and has started to adapt accordingly. It starts reacting to the absence of opiates, producing various withdrawal symptoms for the person.
Tolerance would also include needing more and more of the drug just to get the same effects.
Of course, all of the side effects we mentioned above are nothing compared to opiate addiction. What’s scary about this set of drugs is that they can get you addicted quickly—you wouldn’t even realize it until it’s too late.
Even the commonly prescribed painkiller codeine is addictive, so it’s really a matter of consciously avoiding its abuse in order to stay safe. When a person becomes dependent, they really couldn’t tell right away. This dependence is likely to be diagnosed when they are already unable to get off the drug, despite its negative consequences.
Not only will your health be affected in so many ways, it can also break down your interpersonal relationships as well as your career. Such is what commonly happens when a person gets addicted to a certain substance. They may even be driven to do things they don’t believe are morally right. They might lie, cheat, and steal their way into obtaining more opiates. In the worst cases, they may even result to violence if their impulses are not put in check.
All these cause financial problems, not only for the patient but also for their families. They will need to take care of the person’s health, while also addressing the withdrawal symptoms that come up.
If you can’t get off the drug on your own, you might need some help.
Those pesky withdrawal symptoms will definitely keep you from easily recovering. But with a good treatment program, you may be able to get the drug off your system, start recovering, and begin life again.
Dr. Vikram Tarugu, M.D, is the CEO of Detox of South Florida, Inc and medical professional focused on addiction. A veteran in the medical field with over 25 years of professional experience. He is a consultant for many South Florida Rehab centers. Patients travel from allover the US to seek his help with addiction and Hepatitis C treatment.
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