Since 1999, more than 841,000 people have died from an opioid overdose. It makes you wonder what effect this powerful drug has on people struggling with addiction.
What are opioids? How do opioids affect the brain? We’ve researched for you and created a guide that provides the information you’ve been searching for, including details about common opioids used.
Read on now.
What Are Opioids?
Opioids are drugs that are created using the opium poppy plant. This drug classification is also commonly known as a painkiller and can be prescribed to people for a series of ailments and injuries.
When someone takes an opioid, it creates a numbing effect, and the pain a person feels dramatically decreases. This works within the body because the pain signals from the affected area to the brain decrease and create pain release.
Some of the common opioids used include:
Hydrocodone can be found in Vicodin and is prescribed by healthcare professionals to take care of pain short-term. For example, if you’ve had a wisdom tooth extracted, your doctor might prescribe hydrocodone to help combat any discomfort you feel while you’re recovering.
Morphine is classified as a schedule II drug and is commonly used after a person has undergone surgery or if a woman has requested an epidural. During child labor, contractions can sometimes become unbearable; therefore, an epidural is provided to take the edge off.
Fentanyl has quickly become a popular opioid, but it’s also led to increased opioid deaths because of how powerful the painkiller is. Many people are overdosing because they’re using substances they don’t know are laced with fentanyl.
Regardless of what type of opioid it is, they all have addictive properties and can become habit-forming for the person prescribed them.
Opioids Effect on the Brain
There are three different types of receptors in the body that carry specific messages from the body to the brain. The first set of receptors is the delta receptor.
This receptor is responsible for your mood. When you ingest opioids, it affects the way the body responds and can increase the chances of you experiencing anxiety and depression.
15 million people deal with depression, and many of these people choose to self-medicate rather than seek professional help. The next receptors are the kappa receptors, which deal with the idea of reward and your mood.
Ingesting opioids can activate these receptors incorrectly, causing a person to experience an increased need to use the bathroom and dysphoria. It can also reduce a person’s pain, which can be harmful if someone becomes injured and doesn’t know it.
If you don’t know you’ve broken a bone, you’re not going to seek medical attention—lastly, the mu-opioid receptors control pain, reward, and mood.
This can lead to swift changes in your mood and cause problems with your respiratory system.
With a better understanding of the different receptors in the body, here’s how opioids alter and affect your brain’s natural chemistry. Opioids cause your brain to stop producing dopamine naturally, which is responsible for reward, pleasure, and pain.
The Brain & Opioids
When the brain is triggered to release dopamine, it will continue to search for ways to repeat this act naturally. Dopamine is also responsible for motivating people to do things like work hard to achieve a promotion because you’ll feel rewarded when you succeed.
When you use opioids, it triggers the brain to release dopamine, and over time, when there are no opioids present in the body, the brain will begin to search for it. The brain begins to rely on the presence of opioids to feel the same level of pleasure that was achieved before.
This forces the brain to believe that it doesn’t need to produce dopamine because it’s being produced for it. After a person struggling with addiction stops using opioids, they have several issues ranging from problems sleeping to issues concentrating on different tasks.
Opioids can also reduce the amount of control you have over your impulses. Instead of thinking through the consequences, your actions might have you react without thinking. For example, if you walk into a store instead of thinking about what will happen if you steal, you do it anyway.
Then when asked why you did it, there’s no answer because you acted on impulse instead of thinking things through beforehand.
How Can Treatment Help?
When you stop using and seek help, the brain begins to heal itself as well. However, the changes won’t be immediate because it takes time for your brain to find balance after being in a constant state of pleasure for so long.
It will take time for your body to get through withdrawal and begin producing the endorphins needed for you to feel motivated and energized to do things again. You’ve got to find the endurance necessary to push through the part of recovery where you lack these things.
Understand it doesn’t last forever, and choosing to enter into sobriety is the first step to recovery and beginning a new life; choose to stop the opioid crisis in its tracks.
How Do Opioids Affect the Brain: Understanding Your Brain’s Chemistry
We’ve provided the answers you’ve been looking for to answer how do opioids affect the brain. For your body to function the way it needs to, your brain needs to receive messages to release the proper chemicals at the right time.
Using opioids blocks these messages from being delivered, leading to future problems. Do you want to stop using opioids?
Here at Cenikor, we have the resources and expertise you need to get sober. Get help today and take that challenging first step.