Opiates are a class of drugs that can be synthetically generated in labs or naturally extracted from the poppy plant, hence the name. They can be ingested or injected, depending on how it is used. Most opiates include legal painkillers like morphine, oxycodone, and codeine, any of which can be prescribed by a physician. However, there are some dangerous illicit drugs that use opiates as an active ingredient, such as heroin. In either case, opiates are highly addictive substances, and opiate detox can be exceptionally difficult.
Opiate Effects on the Brain
Even without drugs or medication, opiates are present in the brain. In fact, the opiate receptors that are responsible for a lot of regular bodily sensations. They assist in the regulation of sleep, mood stabilization, and the receiving and processing of “feel good” chemicals; but the opiate receptors are best known for their part in pain relief. When you suffer a minor injury, your brain releases naturally produced opiates to manage the pain until it goes away. This is why injuries stop hurting over time. However, the chemicals that the brain naturally produces for pain relief are significantly less powerful than the opiates that are used in drugs. Consequently, an addiction to opiate drugs has extreme effects on the brain; and on the body.
These effects can include:
- clogged blood vessels
- collapsed veins
- irregular breathing
- liver damage
- lung disease
- psychomotor impairment
- septic pulmonary embolism
- weakened immune system
Over time, if the brain becomes dependent on the high volume of “feel good” chemicals present in opiate drugs, it will eventually be unable to produce those same natural on its own, rendering the opiate receptors for natural pain relief useless. As the result, the body can experience severe symptoms of withdrawal.
Opiate Prescription Medications
Since opiates are a natural pain reliever, it makes sense that prescription drugs that contain them are prescribed for post-surgical pain management or chronic pain conditions. However, they can be just as dangerous as any illicit opiate if handled improperly. Any opiate drug has a huge potential for addiction, even if they were acquired legally. This can include:
Signs of Opiate Abuse
Unlike other drugs, opiates can be obtained over the counter, so sometimes it can be hard to determine if you or someone you love is suffering an opiate addiction problem. Short-term effects of opiate addiction include:
- constricted pupils
- slowed breathing
- sporadic loss of consciousness
Opiate Detox at Discovery Institute
Opiate detox is very uncomfortable, but it is better managed and more successful with medical supervision. When treated by doctors, those who undergo opiate detox usually go on medications like non-narcotic pain relievers and blood pressure regulators to wean their bodies off of the opiate drugs in their systems. Through detox programs, like the ones at Discovery Institute, medical professionals can oversee the opiate detox process, ease symptoms, prescribe appropriate medications for pain relief, and provide all-around support for patients in recovery. Utilizing the support of medical professionals is highly recommended if you are looking to successfully complete an opiate detox.