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What Makes Opioid Weight Loss So Concerning

What Makes Opioid Weight Loss So Concerning

opioids and weight loss

For people who struggle with chronic pain or severe pain after surgery, prescription opioids can provide much-needed relief.

However, people who abuse these drugs for a long period of time can quickly become addicted. While these drugs can cause a variety of health problems when abused, opioids and weight loss are tightly linked. Our Milford Rehab Center is sharing more information about the effects of opioids and why they cause weight loss.

What Are Opioids and What Do They Do?

Opiates are naturally occurring substances that are derived from the seeds of opium poppy plants. Opioids include both natural substances and synthetic forms of drugs, such as fentanyl. These drugs work in the central nervous system by changing the way the body perceives pain. However, what makes them so addictive is the feelings of euphoria and pleasure that they produce. This is the result of changes in the levels of chemicals like dopamine and serotonin, which are responsible for reward and mood in the brain.

Opiates are found in many prescription drugs and are considered Schedule II narcotics, meaning they have a high potential for abuse and can lead to psychological and physical dependence.1 Opioids like morphine, codeine, and thebaine are habit-forming drugs that can cause addiction if they are used in any other ways other than how prescribed by a doctor. Morphine is the most common natural alkaloid in the opium poppy plant, and many other opioids, such as codeine, are derived from it.

Despite their dangers, many users become hooked on the sense of euphoria opioids induce. Chronic opioid abuse ultimately leads to addiction. Banyan Treatment Centers' prescription pill detox in Delaware helps people addicted to medications like opioids safely wean off of them and begin their recovery. This can be a helpful form of treatment for you or anyone you may know who’s struggling to quit using opioids.

Do Opioids Make You Lose Weight?

Yes, opioids can make you lose weight. However, you should never abuse or misuse them for any reason, including to lose weight. Opioids are addictive and can be damaging to the body. Painkillers and weight loss are linked because of the former’s effects on the user’s eating habits and appetite. Opioid symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and constipation can result in a lack of nutrients and cause an imbalance in electrolytes. Nausea and vomiting can also inhibit a person’s appetite, resulting in weight loss. Fatigue caused by opioids can also reduce a user’s metabolic rate, which can also affect their appetite and, therefore, their weight.

Some common painkillers that cause weight loss may include:

  • Oxycodone
  • Fentanyl
  • Hydrocodone
  • Codeine
  • Oxymorphone

Why Do Opioids Reduce Appetite?

Opioids have a significant impact on the physiological mechanisms that regulate hunger. One crucial element in their capacity to suppress appetite is the brain's reward and pleasure centers. Opioids bind to receptors in the hypothalamus, an important region of the central nervous system for controlling hunger. When these receptors are activated, they control the release of neurotransmitters like dopamine, which is connected to sensations of reward and pleasure. Due to the brain's preference for opioid-induced sensations over hunger, eating may become less appealing as a result.

By changing hormone levels, opioids do suppress appetite, albeit indirectly at times. For instance, opioids may boost cortisol levels, a stress hormone that can decrease hunger. The correct signaling of hormones like ghrelin and leptin, which are crucial in controlling appetite and satiety, may also be interfered with by opioids.

Opioids' effects on the digestive system also contribute to their ability to suppress hunger. The digestive tract has opioid receptors that, when triggered, can cause a decrease in intestinal motility. A lengthier feeling of fullness and fewer hunger pangs may come from the digestive tract's delayed transit time. Opioids can also dull our experience of taste and smell, two essential sensory factors that affect our urge to eat. It's possible that this altered sensory experience will make you less interested in food. Overall, the opioid effects on the brain, hormonal control, and gastrointestinal functions all work together to decrease appetite. In addition, people with drug addictions are usually more concentrated on their drug use than their food intake. Any money that they have will most likely be spent on drugs rather than food.

Do Opioids Cause Weight Gain

Yes, some people can gain weight as a result of using opioids. A mix of physiological and behavioral reasons is blamed for this weight increase. Opioids have the potential to affect the body's energy balance and metabolism physiologically. They might change how the body absorbs and stores nutrients, which might result in more calories being consumed and stored. Additionally, opioids have the potential to upset the hormonal balance that controls hunger and metabolism, which may lead to weight gain. Additionally, opioids are well-known for their sedative effects, which may cause a decrease in physical activity. This drop in activity and exercise can result in weight gain since it reduces total energy usage.

Behaviorally, emotional, and psychological elements may also contribute to weight increase following opiate usage. People may use food as a consolation or diversion when they are going through cravings or withdrawal symptoms. Even after recovering from opiate addiction, the emotional component of emotional eating can create a pattern of utilizing food as a coping mechanism, which may lead to weight gain. Overall, even though weight gain is not a common side effect of opioid use, it is a possibility due to the intricate interplay of physiological and behavioral aspects connected to opioid use.

Banyan offers opioid addiction treatment at our Delaware rehabs that help people addicted to both illicit and prescription opioids get sober. We also offer a variety of other substance-specific treatments at our drug rehab facility in Milford. Call us now at 888-280-4763 to speak to one of our team members about our levels of care.


  1. SAMHSA - DEA - Controlled Substance Schedules
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.
What Makes Opioid Weight Loss So Concerning
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