Opioids are types of painkillers that are prescribed for short-term pain management. Prescription opioids are a form of pain medicine that can lead to physical dependence if misused.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, opioids are a class of drugs that include:
- illegal drugs such as heroin
- synthetic opioids such as fentanyl or tramadol
- pain relievers such as hydrocodone (Vicodin) and oxycodone (Oxycontin)
Those suffering from chronic pain may use opioids to find pain relief, but many abuse opioids for their euphoric effects. Opioid abuse can lead to addiction, as well as severe side effects and complications.
Side Effects Of Opioid Use
Whether a person is abusing the cough suppressant codeine or a prescription opioid such as hydromorphone (Dilaudid), the side effects of opioid use can cause concerns for your overall health.
Common Side Effects
Some of the common side effects of opioids include:
- hormonal dysfunction
Serious Side Effects
Serious side effects caused by excessive opioid use are:
- respiratory depression
- cravings which can lead to physical dependence
- changes in heart rate
- muscle rigidity
- gastrointestinal problems
Complications Of Opioid Abuse
When it comes to prescribing opioids to patients, healthcare professionals will likely inform you of the risk of addiction, as well as other potential complications.
Opioid Use Disorder
Long-term use of opioids may lead to opioid use disorder. Once your body has developed a dependence to the drug, you may find yourself having cravings that you can’t control. Opioid use disorder is characterized by continuing to use despite harmful consequences.
Those addicted to opioids may begin to consume higher doses to fulfill their “high.” This can cause a person to combine various opioids.
This can be dangerous, especially when someone begins to take too much of the drug. This can lead to an overdose.
Some of the symptoms of an opioid overdose include:
- a limp body
- unable to speak
- heartbeat stops
- lips and fingernails turn blue
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), many overdose deaths involve opioids and benzodiazepines such as diazepam (Valium), lorazepam (Ativan), or alprazolam (Xanax).
If you suspect someone has overdosed on opioids, call 911 right away. Thankfully, the medicine naloxone is used to help reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.
Those who abuse opioid pain medication and suddenly stop taking the drug may experience opioid withdrawal. Some opioid withdrawal symptoms may include:
- muscle aches
Intravenous Drug Use
Those addicted to opioid prescription medication may eventually turn to the illegal drug heroin. In doing so, a person may use the drug intravenously by watering it down and injecting it into a vein.
This can lead to a number of complications and side effects such as:
- needle-sharing, which can lead to contracting hepatitis or HIV
- abscesses on your skin that can cause an infection
- fungal infections
- scarred or collapsed veins
Opioid Use Disorder Treatment
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) provides three approved medications commonly used to treat opioid use disorder. These include methadone, naltrexone, and buprenorphine.
To learn about outpatient programs, please contact us today.