The Effects of Opiate Addiction


Opiates are a widely abused class of drugs, primarily because they suppress pain, reduce anxiety and give off feelings of euphoria.

Like other drugs, opiates are extremely addictive, and they can cause long-term physical and psychological problems when they're repeatedly abused.

Social Consequences

People addicted to opiates may try to cut down or stop their use many times, but they will often return to the drug – despite the harm being done to their bodies and brains. Some people can't hold down jobs or they resort to crime to help pay for the addiction. Since opiates are generally easy to obtain with a prescription or on the "street," access makes opiate addiction a fast and furious process.


After time, an addict will usually increase dosage of opiates, either intentionally or unintentionally, wanting to experience a greater high from the drugs. High doses cause nerve receptors to become resistant to the substance, which means that a person needs more of it to achieve the same effects. This can create physical dependence, which can easily lead to psychological dependence or addiction.


Opiates can produce a wide variety of nasty withdrawal symptoms, including anxiety, tremors, agitations, nausea, muscle pain, vomiting, diarrhea and hot/cold flashes. The intensity of the withdrawal process usually depends on how long a person had been using the drug and how much of the drug he or she tended to consume. For some heroin addicts, medical professionals will prescribe a synthetic opiate methadone drug, which helps to ease the withdrawal symptoms as the addict is weaned off the drug and back into health.

Lifestyle Changes

People who suffer from opiate addiction might also have problems using alcohol or other sedatives safely. Especially in early recovery, it's important for these individuals to steer clear of any substances that might trigger a relapse, like alcohol, marijuana or even over-the-counter sleep aids. And since opiate addiction often starts when a person is prescribed medication for legitimate physical pain or injury, it's necessary for opiate addicts to disclose their drug use history to their doctors. In situations where pain medication may be needed, a physician can prescribe something safe and non-addictive.

Source: Harvard

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