What are Opioids?

Opioids are naturally found in the opium poppy plant. They are a type of drug that manipulates the brain to produce a variety of different effects, most commonly as an ingredient in many prescription pain relievers. There are also synthetic (man-made) opioids such as fentanyl and illegal street opioids such as heroin. It is important to understand the long and short term effects of opioid abuse and how they affect your body.

Heroin usually comes in a white or brown powder, and it can be injected into a vein which gives three to four times the strength of a similar dose of morphine. In addition to being injected, heroin can also be snorted or smoked.

Many of the prescription forms of opioids are used as pain management by blocking the pain signals to the brain. They are typically prescribed for moderate to severe pain after a major injury, surgery or for cancer-related treatments.

The most common prescription opioids are:

  • Fentanyl
  • Morphine
  • Hydrocodone, also known as Vicodin
  • Oxycodone, also known as Oxycontin or Percocet
  • Codeine

What are the Long Term Effects of Opioid Abuse?

The ongoing continual abuse of opioids can result in physical dependence, addiction, overdose or even death. This happens when the body eventually adapts to the presence of the opioid and a higher dosage will be required to get the effects that were previously experienced. Whether it’s for pain management or abuse of the drug, stronger and stronger doses are needed to get those effects originally experienced when first using the drug.

If the use of the opioid is reduced or stopped, withdrawal symptoms can occur. Since the body is so used to opioids being provided to it, it stops producing its own. The sudden absence of the opioids cause the brain to readjust, and this can cause uncomfortable symptoms. These include muscle and bone pain, restlessness, diarrhea, insomnia, cold flashes, goosebumps, vomiting.

Withdrawal symptoms can be pretty severe depending on the length and severity of the addiction. Some acute withdrawal symptoms can go on for years. In order to help people readjust and feel more comfortable throughout this process, medicated-assisted detox or medicated-assisted treatment may be offered.

What are the Short Term Effects of Opioid Abuse?

According to the Foundation for a Drug-Free World, the short-term effects of opioids and morphine derivatives include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Slowed breathing
  • Constipation
  • Unconsciousness
  • Nausea
  • Coma

Since opioids work by depressing the body, movements and functions become much slower. An opioid overdose happens because the lungs and heart aren’t functioning as they should, so the user may eventually choke to death due to their respiratory system becoming so depressed.

Signs and Symptoms of Opioid Addiction

Opioid addictions are easy to hide at first. They can be masked as necessary for the treatment of chronic pain, which is a defense tactic used by many addicts. This can also make it difficult for families of loved ones with an opioid use disorder to commit to getting help. It can also be hard to determine if a loved one’s opioid use is medically necessary or if it has become an addiction, but there are many things you can look out for.

These signs can include:

  • Avoiding time with family and friends, preferring to spend time alone in isolation.
  • Being very tired and sad, and other signs that might be depression
  • Irritable, nervous and/or cranky
  • Experiencing financial hardship due to spending lots of income on drugs
  • Getting into trouble with law enforcement.
  • Mixing in with different groups and changing friend circles
  • Lack of hygiene, not bathing or brushing teeth.
  • Loss of interest in activities, things that used to interest them no longer do
  • Change in eating habits, either increased or decreased
  • Quick mood changes
  • Missing important appointments and obligations

Opioid Withdrawal

The withdrawal from opioids can be difficult and extremely uncomfortable, so it’s generally recommended for it to be medically supervised. The safest way to alleviate the opioid withdrawal is through medically supervised treatment that includes counseling, support, and medications used to alleviate those symptoms. The symptoms from withdrawal commonly last 3 to 5 days but can be as long as weeks or even months, in severe cases.

The symptoms of opioid withdrawal may include:

  • Drug Cravings
  • Anxiety Irritability
  • Feeling cold
  • Tremors
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea and upset stomach
  • Insomnia and trouble sleeping
  • Vomiting

About Pinelands Recovery Center

You don’t have to go through your recovery alone. We offer experienced professionals who can assist in managing your steps to getting sober. Getting treatment for your addiction isn’t as cut-and-dry as abstinence, either. We understand that medically assisted treatment might be required to help you more comfortably transition out of opioid use. There are also many ways you can manage chronic pain without the use of opioids, so living a life truly free of opioid addiction can be possible.

Pinelands Recovery Center of Medford is widely known as one of New Jersey’s finest, most respected addiction treatment facilities. With comfortable 30-bed accommodations and 24-hour professional staff, we can offer clients a serene, relaxing environment amid the lush piney woods. This stress-free setting with its sense of warmth and welcoming enables you to feel comfortable and confident about your clean and sober life ahead.

We will establish clear goals, both general in nature and specific to your needs. We continue to monitor those goals, to make sure that our clients are progressing and buying into their recovery plan. We thrive on assisting clients in feeling connected to the recovery community, share and demonstrate effective coping techniques, help clients to modify attitudes and patterns of behavior and everything else you will need to be happy and productive living a sober, healthy life.

We ensure that clients complete their planned concrete tasks, encourage hope, optimism and healthy living. Our recovery program is not a revolving door treatment program; it is a recovery model designed to help clients go on to lead productive, happy lives. For more information, visit pinelandsrecovery.com