Opiates and opioids are abused throughout the US, as well as the rest of the world. But despite this widespread problem, there is still a lot of misinformation being spread about these substances.
In order to avoid addiction and adverse effects, we need to know exactly what opiates are and what they are for. We also need to talk about the dangers of abusing these substances.
And while we all know that opiates can harm you physically, there is a general lack of knowledge regarding the way opiates can affect the brain. On this article we are going to discuss the effects of abusing opiates, specifically their mental health effects.
What are Opiates?
Opiates and opioids are painkillers that are often prescribed for pain ranging from moderate to severe.
Opiates and opioids are often confused for one another. While there are many similarities between the two classifications, they are technically not the same. Opiates are natural derivatives of the opium poppy plant. On the other hand, opioids are the synthetic and semi-synthetic derivatives.
Outside the medical industry, however, the two terms are used interchangeably.
It is interesting to note that both opiates and opioids are also known as narcotics, but in law enforcement, narcotics refer to all kinds of illegal drugs.
Opiates and opioids are often misused because of the euphoric high they produce. Not only do these substances treat pain, they also make the users feel good. This is the quality that makes them addictive.
These drugs alter the way the brain perceives pain, but this benefit comes with a number of disadvantages. It affects the brain in many different ways, which is why opiates must be used strictly as prescribed.
Opiates: Immediate Effects on the Brain
The naturally occurring opioids in the body help maintain the pleasure and reward systems of the brain. This helps the body calm down.
When a person takes opiates, the substances quickly latch on to the body’s so-called opioid receptors, giving them an extreme rush of euphoria. Dopamine is released and the neurons in the body create a very high level of pleasure or excitement. This is also known as a high.
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Opiate Addiction and Brain Function
The brain is inclined to want to repeat actions that stimulate the reward system, specifically those feelings that provoke pleasure. Usually, this is limited to activities such as eating or sex. But opiates create a similar sensation, making your brain want to repeat that activity over and over again.
This is how addiction develops. As the person takes more and more of the drug, they begin to manifest various behavioral changes. This can be both in an attempt to conceal their drug abuse and as a result of repeated intake of opiates.
Continuous use of opiates makes the receptors in our brain less sensitive to their presence. This means that the body has adapted to the presence of opiates. In no time, physical dependence will develop.
At this point, the person can no longer function properly without taking opiates. They may experience withdrawal symptoms. They may become depressed, anxious, or lethargic.
Opiates are only beneficial when used exactly as prescribed. But when misused, it can easily cause several health problems, some of which affect the way we think and perceive our surroundings.
The best way to deal with it is with a combination of medical detox and behavioral therapy. Look for a rehab facility near you today and help fight the psychological as well as physical effects of addiction.