How Opioids Affect the Brain | Banyan Chicago

How Opioids Affect the Brain

opioid brain

Opioid use has been a growing problem in the United States, and every year more and more individuals develop an addiction to opioids.

In 2018, nearly 10.3 million people misused opioids.1 Despite how often chronic pain is treated with opioids, many individuals don’t know how opioids affect the brain. When they’re not taken as advised by a doctor, the risk of addiction and other dangerous side effects can occur. Our Chicago rehab facility advises individuals who develop a substance abuse problem to immediately seek treatment.

What Are Opioids?

Opioids include prescription drugs used to alleviate pain. Some of the most commonly used opioids are Vicodin, Percocet, Fentanyl, and Morphine. They work by blocking pain in the body, slowing breathing, and producing a calming effect on the user. They also trigger pain receptors in the brain to allow drugs to attach themselves onto other cells. This can lead to abnormalities in the brain’s messages to the body.2 Opioids also target the brain’s production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that induces the feeling of pleasure. Dopamine manages movement, emotion, cognition, and motivation in the brain.

Because dopamine produces the feeling of euphoria, users will continuously desire to feel that way again, which can result in addiction. For people who suffer from substance abuse, it can be difficult to stop using. Many of these individuals will have to get opiate addiction treatment to recover in a safe and comfortable environment.

Effects of Opioids on the Brain

Because opioids are so powerful, it doesn’t take long for users to become addicted. As the brain grows accustomed to the increasing amount of opioids, it slowly loses its ability to function on its own. This dependence on opiates can cause short-term and long-term effects on the brain.

Short-term effects include:

  • Fatigue
  • Numbness, or lack of feeling
  • Euphoria
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea

In order to combat opioid addiction, it’s important to know how opioids affect the brain. The continuous use of opiates can take its toll on the body, causing severe long-term effects and possibly irreversible damage.

Long-term effects of opioids on the brain include:

  • Hallucinations
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Hypoxia, or lack of oxygen supply
  • Hyperalgesia, or sensitivity to pain

Banyan Chicago encourages those suffering from substance abuse to find help in our 12-step program. Overcoming addiction can be difficult, but it’s not impossible. With the right treatment, living a sober life is achievable. In our rehab facility, patients will be guided throughout their recovery process and given the tools they need to maintain their sobriety after treatment.

If you or a loved one are battling with drug or alcohol addiction, get help today. Call us at 888-280-4763 to find out more about our various treatment options.

Sources & References:

  1. SAMHSA- Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States
  2. NAABT- How do Opioids Work in the Brain?
Alyssa is Banyan’s Director of Digital Marketing & Technology. After overcoming her own struggles with addiction, she began working in the treatment field in 2012. She graduated from Palm Beach State College in 2016 with additional education in Salesforce University programs. A part of the Banyan team since 2016, Alyssa brings over 5 years of experience in the addiction treatment field.

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