Opiates are a wide-ranging class of drugs that include everything from prescription painkillers to dangerous illicit drugs. However, they always have drastic effects on the body. With their addictive properties, opiates can easily be misused, leading to addiction as well as danger to one’s body and mind.

The way in which opiates affect the body is serious, and knowing the damage they can cause may help people recognize the signs of damage and addiction. This can empower each individual affected by opiate addiction to seek professional care to overcome the addiction.

The Difference Between Opioids and Opiates

While the terms “opioids” and “opiates” are commonly used interchangeably, there is a key difference between the two. The term “opioid” refers to any kind of opioid, whether they are completely natural, semi-synthetic, or fully synthetic—accurately describing anything from natural opioids like oxycodone to semi-synthetic opioids like heroin or fully synthetic drugs like the incredibly potent fentanyl.

“Opiates” are a subcategory of opioids, specifically describing opioids that are fully natural in their composition. However, just because something is made of a “natural” composition doesn’t it is necessarily safe. Oxycodone, hydrocodone, methadone, and morphine are some examples of natural opioids that carry intensely addictive properties and destructive effects.

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The Prevalence of Opiate Use

Despite their dangers, opiates are used within the medical world for a variety of reasons, most commonly for intense pain relief provided in treatment for surgery or late-stage cancer. However, because of their potent and intense effects on the body, they are commonly abused outside of this medical setting, leading to dangerous and deadly consequences. Even those who use opiates as per a prescription are not immune to their addictive properties.

From 1999 to 2019, it is estimated that around 500,000 people died as a result of opioid use. While this number does include the use of all types of opioids, it also doesn’t reflect the number of people who have suffered physical or emotional damage as a result of addiction to these drugs. However, with how prevalent the use of these types of drugs is, it is necessary to understand the drastic impact they can have on one’s body in order to embrace the need for detox, recovery, and sobriety.

The Effects of Opiates on the Body

Opiates affect the entire body, with many of one’s internal systems being detrimentally affected. However, the way in which opiates affect each part of the body can be different. Being aware of all the various effects is crucial.

Depressing the Respiratory System

Opiates are natural depressants, slowing down bodily processes, including one’s breathing. However, the use of opiates can also depress one’s respiratory system to extreme levels, resulting in the possible arrest of one’s lungs. Since proper breathing is necessary for life, this can have drastic and even deadly consequences.

Damaging the Liver

Excessive use of opiates can also cause liver damage as the body attempts to process the use of these drugs. The combination of opiates with other drugs or alcohol can make these effects much worse, and the liver can be left unable to process the myriad of toxins it receives. This can result in serious liver damage.

Impairing the Brain

Opiates have an intense effect on the brain. Their depressive properties can cause symptoms from sleepiness, fogginess, and drowsiness to affected thought patterns, which can compromise one’s ability to tend to other responsibilities or even simply care for themselves. Continued use of opiates can cause further detriment to the brain and can lead to the onset of depression.

Impacting Motor Skills

Opiates also compromise one’s motor functions, impacting one’s nervous system and causing one to lose balance, dexterity, or otherwise slow one’s movements and impact one’s coordination. The effects on the nervous system can also cause an individual to develop an increased sensitivity to pain over excessive use.

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The Dangers of Opiate Administration

While opiates can have numerous detrimental effects on the body, the way in which one ingests them can also cause injury. Injecting opiates can damage one’s skin and veins while also causing scabbing, creating track marks, or leaving bruises around injection sites. The sharing of needles can further exacerbate these problems while creating a host of new complications in the form of infection and disease.

Opiates are incredibly addictive and can cause damage whether an individual is using illicit substances or prescription opiates. The effects of opiates on the body are intense, and navigating opiate abuse and addiction is a complex and difficult affair that requires professional and personalized care. There is no point that is “too late” to pursue a life of sobriety, and the sooner one can identify these detrimental effects, the sooner one can embark on a healthy lifestyle ahead. 

Addressing an addiction to opioids and opiates is a trying journey, but at Hawaii Island Recovery, we offer an extensive, personalized approach to opioid addiction treatment. From detox and residential care to ongoing outpatient and aftercare, we are dedicated to your sobriety, acting as a resource in all stages of your recovery. We offer an intimate, supportive recovery atmosphere that embraces the unique advantages and energies of Hawaii while educating you on the effects of opioids and their impact on your life. We believe recovery is a truly transformative effort, and our personalized programs are committed to helping you pursue your goals beyond addiction for a happier, healthier life. Opiates affect each individual in drastic ways, and taking the first step is the hardest part. For more information on how we can personalize your time with us, call to speak to a caring staff member today at (866) 390-5070.