Opioids Harm the Body & Brain

Even in a short period of time, opioids can negatively affect the health of the brain. While an opioid has the ability to bind to the brain’s pleasure receptors & manage pain effectively, an opioid also attaches to non-pleasure receptors in the brain & spinal cord, which masks pain in the body.

Opioids target the brain’s reward system and flood the circuit with dopamine,  a neurotransmitter that regulates movement, emotion, and feelings of pleasure. Since opioids target the brain’s pleasure receptors, some people experience euphoria. Studies also show that psychological addiction can take place in just 3 days. Over time, the brain adjusts its functioning to accommodate the intake of opioids and loses its ability to function normally without the opioids being present.

 

Opioid withdraws consists of various symptoms that can cause intense psychological & physical distress in a person’s body. The pain of the withdraw can be intensely painful … but being opioid-free is worth it! #DidYouKnow? Prolonged use of opioids can lead to permanent damage to a person’s organs, including the kidneys and liver? But there’s something far worse – Even a first time user can experience respiratory arrest or respiratory failure and/or sudden cardiac arrest.

  • Blood: Heroin or crushed-pill injections can cause veins to collapse & shared needles increase the risk of contracting HIV;
  • Brain: Heavy opioid use can cause sedation, depression;
  • Digestive System: Slowing of the digestive system can result in constipation, nausea & at heightened risk for more serious conditions, such as small bowel obstruction, perforation & resultant peritonitis;
  • Heart: Heart lining can become infected due to contamination from opioid use;
  • Immune System: Vulnerability & infection can occur due to reduced immune response;
  • Liver: Shared infected needles can cause hepatitis;
  • Lungs: Ensuring respiratory depression can lead to slowed breathing, which is potentially fatal; Respiratory arrest can deprive the brain and body tissues of oxygen & result in debilitating organ system injury, which can easily prove fatal;
  • Nervous System: Chronic opioid abuse can create a greater sensitivity to pain called Opioid Hyperalgesia;
  • Skeletal System: Individuals who abuse opioids are more likely to suffer from fractures & broken bones because they’re at higher risk of bone thinning & loss due to regrowth impairment.  A study published in the Journal of American Geriatrics Society notes that 3 percent of patients suffered a fracture in the first 14 days of using short-acting opioids versus 0.4 percent of people who used ibuprofen.