Opioid addiction is perhaps the world's most common addiction, and the numbers are growing by the day.
Now, when we think of opioid addiction, we typically think of someone doing heroin down a back alley somewhere, but opioids are taken in many more ways than only by street heroin users.
Opioids are a class of medicines rather than a single substance. All medicines derived from the opium poppy are included in this category. Many well-known pharmaceuticals are included in this category, including codeine, morphine, oxycodone, and, of course, heroin.
Opioids and their applications
Opioids are mainly used to relieve pain and are very effective in this regard. Those suffering from chronic pain will almost always be given an opioid by their doctor to help them cope with the discomfort.
This is when the problems start.
While opioids are a very efficient pain reliever, they are also highly addictive. It is extremely simple for a user to become dependent on opioids if they are used regularly for a long length of time, which carries with it not just the problems of addiction but also the health issues that long-term opioid misuse entails.
What is the mechanism of action of opioids?
Opioids, as previously said, are mainly a type of pain treatment that provides the user a pleasant feeling that can sometimes be extremely strong. This reduces the user's pain if they have it, and even if they don't, they will still feel euphoric.
This sensation is felt in the brain, which transmits pleasure impulses throughout the body. The addiction develops as a result of the brain responding to the opium and producing feel-good hormones throughout the body.
There are two methods for users to get addicted:
In this case, the user will actively want opioids, not in the bodily sense, but rather in the manner that you would crave ice cream after dinner. Although you don't have a bodily need for it, your brain is urging you to acquire it. Even novice opioid users may acquire a mental addiction to the drug since the mental aspect can develop rapidly.
When a person uses opioids for a long time, their body may develop a physical dependence on them. In the same way that an alcoholic requires alcohol, an opioid user will need a dosage of opiates to operate properly.
Opioid users usually acquire both physical and mental addictions to the drugs over time. And it will gradually take over their lives until the only thing that counts is accumulating more.
What are opioids' long-term consequences?
Opioids are effective pain relievers because they reduce pain and act as an aesthetic in the body. When someone takes more opioids than recommended, they may experience euphoria, which is what usually leads to addiction as users want to replicate the wonderful sensation.
As long as someone uses opioids, they put themselves at danger of developing severe health problems such as:
Immune system dysfunction
As a user continues to use more and more opium-based medicines, their immune system will deteriorate, leaving them susceptible to a variety of diseases and illnesses.
When users seek out this euphoric high, they claim to be transported to a dreamlike state, which is a chemical release in the brain. The issue is that the more frequently the brain produces these substances, the worse it becomes. The user's mind becomes accustomed to seeing things that aren't there, which can lead to hallucination.
Diseases of the veins
If someone has progressed from using opioids as pills to injecting heroin, they will do it with a needle. And, more often than not, these needles are obtained via unethical methods and shared among users, raising the danger of fatal illnesses such as HIV or Aids.
Users are also at significant risk of acquiring hepatitis through sharing used or unclean needles, in addition to these life-threatening illnesses.
When you include in the user's already weakened immune system as a consequence of their opiate abuse, you have the perfect breeding environment for numerous illnesses and infections.
In the end, long-term opioid usage will only do more harm