The Effects Of Opioids On Your Body: An Analysis By Medical Experts

Written By : Dr Ruby Shah   ✓ Fact Checked

Opioids can have an effect on the body that can leave lasting damage if misused. That’s why it is important for someone to use them properly if they were prescribed for medicinal purposes.

(Last Updated on May 14, 2024)

Opioids can be used for legitimate medical reasons. However, they can be abused to the point where your body may sustain short-term and even long-term damage. This guide will go over the effects that opioids can have on your body.

This will not only include the use of prescription drugs, but also heroin and even fentanyl. If you need help with addiction to opioids, you may want to consider visiting Gallus Detox for more information. Check out their website at gallusdetox.com.

Let’s take a look now at the following information you need to know.

What are opioids used for?

Opioids are designed to treat chronic pain. For this reason, many people are prescribed prescription drugs like oxycodone, hydrocodone, and even fentanyl. These will be prescribed by a doctor in an effort to be used properly.

Doctors believe that they have prescribed these medications in good faith. Yet, there may be those that will abuse them. It starts with increasing the dosage without the proper clearance from a physician.

They may raise the dose once they built up enough tolerance to the drug. From there, it may lead to an even greater need for it. Which means a request for a refill may happen and doctors may notice.

In response to the potential risks of opioid prescriptions for chronic pain, seeking support from ANR Clinic, an opioid dependence treatment, is essential for specialized guidance and assistance.

What are the effects opioids can have on the body?

While opioids can relieve pain, it can also give people who use it (even as a prescription) a feeling of happiness and relaxation. This may be a reason why you may not want to operate a motor vehicle or heavy machinery while using the drug (even for legitimate therapeutic purposes).

What are the side effects of prescription opioids?

The side effects of prescription opioids can be harmful. These include but are not limited to the following:

  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Slowed breathing
  • Euphoria
  • Drowsiness

When misused, the slow breathing is perhaps one of the most severe of all side effects. That’s because it can lead to a sharp decrease of oxygen going to the brain. As this happens, it can develop a condition known as hypoxia.

Hypoxia can be fatal. If it doesn’t kill anyone, it can lead to brain damage that can be permanent. It can even get to the point where a person may be in a coma or a vegetative state.

At this point in time, there is no known evidence that brain damage associated with opioid overdose can be reversed. However, medical researchers are investigating whether or not that’s the case.

What are the physical signs of opioid abuse?

If opioids are being abused, there will be physical signs present over the course of the short and long terms. If you know someone that may be abusing opioids, you’ll want to look out for the following signs:

  • Noticeable appearance changes: This will include loss of weight due to the nausea and vomiting that occurs from the withdrawals or side effects.
  • Neglecting their self-image: This includes foregoing basic hygiene and also not putting any effort into their self-image. They may wear clothing that is dirty and damaged.
  • Issues with motor skills and coordination: They may have an inability to get around normally and may not function with simple tasks properly.
  • Sores, scabs, and puncture wounds: This is usually common for someone who is injecting opioids into their system including heroin and fentanyl.
  • Vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea: These signs will often contribute to the drastic weight loss someone addicted to opioids will experience.
  • Constriction of pupils: The pupils will be smaller in size (or smaller than normal).

Psychological signs of opioid abuse

Aside from the physical signs, there are also psychological signs of opioid abuse you may need to look for. These include the following:

  • Judgment and problem-solving is impaired
  • Thought process is slowed down
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Detachment from their immediate surroundings
  • Mood swings
  • Outbursts that are sudden and unprovoked
  • Paranoia
  • Depression

The effects on the body due to opioids not only focus on the rest of the body, but also one of the most important parts – your brain. It’s important that you keep an eye for any of these symptoms.

Spotting one of them may not be enough. Once you are able to confirm opioid abuse, it’s important to get them the help they need as soon as possible. Opioids are potent, short-acting, and just enough to kill a person (especially a trace amount of fentanyl).

What are the signs of opioid withdrawal and overdose?

Both opioid withdrawal and overdose will have two different sets of physical signs. Let’s take a look at the withdrawal signs to look out for:

Withdrawal signs

  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Muscle spasms
  • Watery eyes
  • Runny noise
  • Intense cravings

Some of these withdrawal symptoms can get severe and may be fatal if untreated. That’s why medical treatment is needed (especially in an inpatient setting).

Signs of opioid overdose

Opioid overdose can occur at a point when someone may be less receptive to the drug. This is known as a tolerance. They will risk taking more to the point of an overdose.

In this event, you’ll want to look out for the following symptoms of a potential opioid overdose:

  • Bluish lips and fingernails
  • Loss of color
  • Constricted pupils
  • Shallow, slow breathing
  • Muscle spasms
  • Reduced heartbeat
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Seizure
  • Coma

These signs can lead to death. If you spot any of these signs of an overdose, dial 911 immediately so the person receives medical attention.

Final Thoughts

Opioids can have an effect on the body that can leave lasting damage if misused. That’s why it is important for someone to use them properly if they were prescribed for medicinal purposes. Otherwise, such opioid drugs like heroin and fentanyl must never be used.

If you or someone you know needs help with opioid addiction, now is the time to get it. Contact Gallus Detox today and begin your treatment plan. It’s a decision that will save your life and you will be thankful for it.

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