The most commonly abused opiates include Morphine, Codeine, and other prescription medication such as, OxyContin, Percocet, and Vicodin. They are painkillers that produce their effects by binding with receptors throughout the brain and body. In proper doses, and under the care of a physician, opiates can play a very important role in helping people who suffer from chronic pain to cope and live efficient lives. However, severe long-term consequences occur when they are abused over a long-term period. Damaged immune systems, greater risk for infection, negative effects on the brain function, and addiction, are just a few of the harmful effects.
Short Term Effects
The short- term effects of this drug of abuse include dry mouth, flushed skin, heavy extremities, and alternation between drowsy and wakeful states, known as “nodding-off”. Although short-term effects do not last very long and are not life-threatening, they can be extremely uncomfortable. Side-effects include nausea, constipation (due to muscle movements in the bowels), fatigue, dizziness, anxiety, constricted pupils, itching, tremors, spasms, sweating, hallucinations and delirium. There is also great risk of having an allergic reaction to opiates which includes itching, swelling, rash, and difficulty breathing, unlike short-term effects or side effects, an allergic reaction can be very serious and could potentially result in death.
Dependence is another negative effect. Endorphins are naturally occurring brain chemicals that produce drowsiness and dull pain. Opiates flood the receptors they bind to, producing a higher state of pleasure than the body can produce on its own. Eventually people suffering from pain and opiate addiction are no longer able to produce these endorphins naturally, and the brain becomes dependent on them to deliver the chemicals to the body. Even the most common opiates used to treat pain for a prolonged period of time are known to cause permanent physical health conditions, resulting in heart infection, liver and kidney disease and damage, a decreased sex drive, and infertility. They have also been shown to cast long-term negative effects on brain chemistry, the longer a person abuses them the more likely they will be to ignore personal hygiene, increasing the chance of alienating people close to them, becoming withdrawn and distant, and often causing them to suffer from depression or mood swings.
Through constant stimulation of key pleasure centers within the brain and its reward system, users are also conditioned to want more of the drug. Patients and abusers who are taking increasing doses of opiates may experience a phenomenon of increasing sensitivity to both pain and non-painful stimulation. Hyper-excitability effects such as delirium or seizures can also be present. The negative effects on the two levels of the endocrine system are, reduced hormone/cortisol levels and an increase in prolactin levels, a drop in testosterone levels, and diminished bone density is reported with chronic use. Semisynthetic and synthetic narcotics that are produced have opiate-like effects and are collectively known as Opioids. They include Methadone, Fentanyl, and a number of commonly prescribed medications like Darvon, Demerol, Dilaudid, Orlaam, Percodan, and Darvocet. These “synthetic painkillers” are created in a laboratory to mimic the effects of naturally occurring opiates such as morphine, although these synthetic painkillers are deemed to be safer than naturally occurring opiates, they still cause a lot of the same negative effects on the body, both short-term and long-term. Opiate addictions that cause permanent and life-threatening effects: Codeine Addiction, Fentanyl Addiction, Hydrocodone Addiction, Morphine Addiction, Opiate addiction, Oxycontin Addiction, Percocet Addiction and Vicodin Addiction.
The Power of Opiates Effects
The power of opiate’s effects depends on how it is delivered into the body. The negative effects and damages to the body caused by opiate use depends on the amount of opiates used and the length of time they are used. Opiates used in increasingly higher doses and for longer periods of time will increase the chances of having more severe, negative effects with more permanent damages to the body and a higher risk of death.