What Are the Negative Health Effects of Misusing Opioids?

Patients every day are prescribed narcotics by professionals in healthcare settings to treat chronic or severe pain. This is beneficial for those who need it most, but unfortunately, it can backfire. It is quite common for some patients to then misuse the opioids they’ve been prescribed. In some cases, they may even sell their prescription medications to others. This is unfortunate because opioids can come with severe side effects when misused.

Overcoming addiction alone can be extremely challenging. This class of drugs can be very powerful on the mind and body, negatively affecting an individual’s mental and physical health. Fortunately, there are various and effective treatment options that can assist people who are struggling with opioid use disorder (OUD).

What Are Opioids?

As stated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), opioids can cause serious side effects and come with risks to one’s health when misused. These drugs can be either prescribed, illegally made, or illegally used outside of healthcare settings. Their misuse has become an epidemic. It has been estimated that in 2020, approximately 92,000 drug overdoses involved an opioid. Excluding methadone, over 82% of all opioid overdoses involved synthetic opioids.

Prescription opioids may consist of:

  • Oxycodone (brand name OxyContin)
  • Hydrocodone (brand name Vicodin)
  • Morphine
  • Methadone

Additionally, fentanyl is a synthetic type of opioid that can be either prescribed by professionals or illegally made. This drug is extremely powerful and is only approved in severe cases in which a patient has excruciating pain. For example, a patient may have an advanced form of cancer or may have just come out of surgery. Illegally distributed fentanyl has been on the rise in many states in the United States and worldwide. Heroin is another illegal opioid. Approximately 36 United States citizens die every day from a sudden overdose involving this specific drug.

Why Are Opioids Commonly Misused?

According to Connecticut State: Department of Consumer Protection (DCP), opioids can give off morphine-like effects. These Schedule II and III controlled substances can produce intense euphoric thoughts, making them popular targets for misuse. This increases the risk of addiction also known as opioid use disorder (OUD). One of the many downsides of this disorder is that opioid narcotics can cause many unwanted physical and mental side effects.

Many people use this group of drugs to produce an extreme sense of relaxation. Opioids work to stimulate different areas of the brain that connect to the reward system. Even taking the prescribed dose can cause a mellowing effect. An individual facing challenges with OUD may attempt to use the drug at a dose several times higher than normally prescribed to chase the desired sense of euphoria. Doing this, however, can cause an opioid overdose resulting in death.

Effects of Misusing Opioids

According to the publication Opioid Overdose by Elizabeth Y. Schiller, Amandeep Goyal, and Oren J. Mechanicopioids, opioid misuse can cause a series of dangerous symptoms that may be frightening. Taking medication as prescribed by only using opioids when required by medical professionals can prevent negative side effects. Learning to recognize these symptoms caused by opioid overdose can potentially save an individual’s life.

Neuropsychiatric side effects may include:

  • Dysphoria (a state of distress or unease)
  • Hallucinations
  • Nightmares
  • Paranoia

Opioid overdose symptoms may also include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • A pale and clammy face
  • Slowed breathing
  • An irregular heart rate
  • Cardiac arrest

How Can Support Groups Help?

One step in seeking support for opioid misuse is researching support groups online. For individuals who have a long-standing history of OUD, peer support groups can help keep opioid cravings at bay and increase self-efficacy. Learning new skills alongside others who have a similar history can be very helpful. Sometimes support groups join together to complete certain activities that can be enjoyable. Attending a support group can open doors to new opportunities that arise by making new healthy connections.

Spending time with others who may have similar goals can help a person stay on the right path toward success. Discussing sobriety goals and sharing the rewards from success can be extremely motivating. Sticking to treatment together can be a healthy distraction from using opioids. When cravings arise, a person can communicate those feelings to others and learn how to fight them off. This can improve one’s ability to stay dedicated and ultimately help an individual overcome the effects of opioid addiction.

Professional Treatment Options

It’s important to work with a professional, licensed facility when seeking to overcome opioid misuse and OUD. Most facilities work hard to prevent opioid overdose by offering treatment options at carefully selected dosages tailored to each individual. There are many options available including inpatient and intensive outpatient care.

The effects of OUD can be debilitating and overwhelming. Surrendering to the idea of professional treatment at a rehabilitation center may be the best choice to defeat this addiction. That way, professionals can monitor an individual 24/7 or as needed depending on the treatment plan required. Different therapies and medications can help an individual cope with severe withdrawal symptoms that may be hindering an individual’s ability to overcome the powerful effects of OUD.

It may be difficult for you to overcome opioid addiction alone without professional treatment. 12 South Recovery can help you recover from a dual diagnosis such as addiction and mental health disorders. Our goal is to provide you with compassionate care during your recovery, with evidence-based treatment and the best in medical care. At our beautiful Orange County rehab facility, you will find friendly staff, licensed therapists, and qualified medical care. Furthermore, you’ll receive a range of drug addiction treatment programs designed to help you tackle the specific aspects of your substance abuse and its causes. If you or a loved one are facing challenges from misusing opioids, call 12 South Recovery at (888) 830-8374 to learn more today.

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