How Do Opioids Affect the Body?

Over the last few years, one of the fastest-growing trends in drug addiction has been opioids. Though their use has been evident for centuries, in the 21st century, they are known for their dramatic impact on overdose statistics and their potency.

The opioid epidemic has impacted hundreds of thousands of lives in the last five years alone. To learn more about our opioid addiction treatment program at Next Wind Recovery, speak with an admissions coordinator today. 

Next Wind Recovery is an outpatient rehab center in New Jersey that offers opioid addiction treatment programs. Contact us today to learn more.

What Are Opioids?

Most commonly known as painkillers, opioids and opiates are narcotics that alter an individual’s capacity to identify pain. Individuals can be prescribed opioids for several different kinds of pain. As a medication prescribed by a doctor, opioids are known by their brand names; morphine, hydrocodone, and oxycodone, to name a few. Illegal opioids exist as well. The most common illicit opioids are heroin and fentanyl. 

Opioids are closely monitored prescriptions because of their ability to affect the physical and mental health of the individual taking them. Opioids are naturally occurring and have been on the market for over a century. During this time, medical professionals have focused on rehabilitative treatments and medical breakthroughs to support individuals that do become addicted. There are several overdose medications available for individuals at risk for an opioid overdose, as well as several Medication Assisted Treatment programs that help individuals while they are attempting to recover from opioid abuse.

How Do Opioids Affect the Body?

Opioids can affect the mental and physical health of the individual taking them. Their impact on an individual can be as severe as death if their use is not regulated.

The effects of opioids on the brain can be some of the most damaging. While initially, opioids cause a reaction in the reward center, the systems in the body can become so dependent on this change that the individual becomes unable to stop taking the medication that causes this altered state, and they become addicted to it. Addiction is a damaging cycle complex for individuals to overcome, especially those with chronic pain, pain related to an injury, or mental pain from trauma. 

While the cognitive effects of opioids can take a while to become noticeable, the physical changes due to opioid use can be immediate. Taking too much of an opioid causes the systems in the body to shut down, resulting in death. Overdoses due to opioids are at epidemic levels. In 2022, more than 100,000 people in the United States died from an opioid overdose.

Physically, to prevent pain, opioids block the opioid pain receptors and slow down the systems in the body. Immediate side effects of taking an opioid include nausea, constipation, lethargy, and dry mouth. Individuals who take too much of an opioid often nod off, unknowingly losing consciousness due to the drugs.

Why Are Opioids So Addictive?

Opioids are so addictive because of the impact they have on the brain. When an individual misuses opioids by taking too much, taking it too frequently, using it without a prescription, or taking it with other contraindicated drugs, it changes the way the brain processes the medication. The activation of the reward center due to the lack of pain can become addictive. It can also slow an individual’s processing and delay their cognitive ability to reason, focus, and elaborate.

The pain-free feeling and the cravings opioids create in the body are challenging to ignore. Individuals addicted to prescription medications often transition to illegal opioids after misusing their prescriptions. Those who start with illicit opioids and unregulated use often experience overdoses and transition to more problematic opioids as their use progresses. 

How to Find Opioid Addiction Treatment in New Jersey

At Next Wind Recovery, we are ready to help individuals on their path to long-term sobriety from opioid addiction. While the effects of opioids can damage the individual, our recovery programs are designed to support mental and physical health progress through treatment and recovery.

Medical professionals have developed our opioid addiction treatment program to provide the highest quality of care in our New Jersey addiction treatment and mental health treatment programs. Through a diligent focus on recovery, we support our clients through structured counseling and outings, teaching people to live drug-free again.

Learn more about the opioid addiction treatment program at Next Wind Recovery, New Jersey.

About the Author

Picture of Duane Anderson, CADC Intern

Duane Anderson, CADC Intern

Duane is a Primary Therapist at Next Wind Recovery.

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