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Long-Term Health Risks of Opioid Abuse

There are certain kinds of substance abuse that are dangerous in both the short- and long-term, and opioid abuse is one of the top such examples. While opioid abuse carries immediate risks like overdose and others, it also carries significant long-term health risks that only grow with the scope of the abuse.

At Moonlight Mountain Recovery, we provide caring addiction recovery programs to patients around Boise, Oregon and Washington, including everything from alcohol and drug rehab to prescription drug addiction treatment for issues like opioids, painkillers and more. In many cases, simply understanding the long-term effects of opioid abuse can be a helpful motivator within addiction recovery programs – with that in mind, here’s a look at some of the possible long-term impacts of opioid abuse on our health.

Opioids and the Human Brain Response

Before we get into some of the specific long-term health risks associated with opioid abuse, it’s important to understand how these drugs interact with the brain. Opioids are a class of drug that act on the body’s nervous system – they’re designed to bind to certain receptors in the brain and block pain signals from reaching us.

While this might seem like a good thing on its face, there are significant downsides involved with this kind of interaction. Opioids not only block pain signals, but they also release a surge of dopamine – the hormone responsible for feelings of pleasure and reward. This can create an intense high that leads to addiction if used frequently enough.

Over time, this leads to the brain developing more and more opiate receptors, which require higher and higher doses of opioids to achieve the same high. This is known as tolerance, and it’s a dangerous cycle that can quickly spiral out of control.

Our next few sections will go over some of the negative ways this can manifest long-term, including both physical and psychological health concerns.

Extensive Sleep Issues

For some people, opioid abuse can lead to severe sleep disorders. This often begins with a lack of restorative sleep, and then leads to serious conditions like narcolepsy – which can result in sudden bouts of falling asleep during the day.

Hormonal Imbalance

Dopamine is also an important hormone when it comes to regulating testosterone and estrogen levels. Opioid abuse can cause a severe imbalance in these hormones, leading to decreased sex drive and fertility issues.

Respiratory Issues

Opioids can have serious effects on the respiratory system, as they suppress breathing and can lead to conditions like pneumonia, bronchitis, or asthma. These issues can become life-threatening if left untreated.

Liver and Kidney Damage

Chronic abuse of opioids can also cause damage to the liver and kidneys. These organs are responsible for filtering out toxins and waste from the body, but prolonged opioid abuse can lead to organ failure or disease.

Mental Health Concerns

In addition to physical health risks, long-term opioid abuse can also have significant impacts on mental health. This includes an increased risk of depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders. Opioids can also exacerbate underlying mental health conditions in individuals.

Vein and Heart Issues

Intravenous opioid abuse, or injecting opioids directly into the bloodstream, can cause damage to veins and arteries. This can lead to cardiovascular issues like blood clots, heart attacks, or strokes.

Digestive Problems

Many opioids slow down the digestive system, leading to constipation and other gastrointestinal problems. Chronic opioid abuse can also cause damage to the stomach lining and bowel movements, resulting in serious digestive issues.

Lung and Breathing Concerns

Because opioids suppress the respiratory system, they can cause issues with lung function and breathing. This can lead to conditions like pneumonia or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Pain Sensitivity

Opioids are often prescribed to manage pain, but long-term abuse can actually make individuals more sensitive to pain. This is due to the brain’s increased tolerance for opioids and decreased production of natural pain-relieving chemicals.

As you can see, there are numerous long-term health risks associated with opioid abuse that only worsen over time. Seeking help and treatment at a reputable addiction recovery center like Moonlight Mountain Recovery is crucial for improving overall health and well-being. Our team of professionals can provide personalized care and support for those struggling with opioid addiction, helping them break the cycle of abuse and begin their journey towards long-term recovery.

So if you or a loved one are facing opioid addiction in Boise or nearby states like Washington and Oregon, don’t hesitate to reach out for help – it could save your life or that of someone close to you.

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