Any medication used to relieve pain symptoms inevitably interferes with nerve cell signal transmissions throughout the brain and body. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, this method of action can cause considerable damage to brain and body functions when opiate use continues on a long-term basis.
Symptoms of opiate addiction develop as ongoing damage to the body becomes progressively worse. In general, symptoms of opiate addiction can take two forms: abuse symptoms and withdrawal symptoms. While withdrawal symptoms of opiate addiction naturally result from ongoing abuse of the drug, these two sets of symptoms become intertwined as users attempt to ward off withdrawal symptoms through ongoing abuse of the drug.
Anyone who has been taking opiate drugs for a week or more may want to keep an eye out for these 10 most likely symptoms of opiate addiction.
Opiate Abuse Symptoms
Sedation, though an intended effect for some opiate medications, can quickly become an all-day experience when taking opiates on a frequent basis. Sedation effects can even reach the point where a person “nods” out periodically without even knowing its happening.
When taken in large doses, feelings of euphoria set the stage for abuse to begin. Symptoms of opiate addiction most often originate from this one symptom as people attempt to recreate the “high” effects of the drug with ongoing use.
Opiate effects on nerve cell signal transmissions take place in the body’s central nervous system. As a symptom of opiate addiction, slowed central nervous system functions naturally affect the body’s digestive functions, including the colon’s role in eliminating wastes.
4. Shallow Breathing
Much like opiate effects on digestion, slower central nervous system functions also affect the body’s respiratory system. Someone using opiates may show symptoms of respiratory depression, which results in him or her taking shallow breaths when breathing.
5. Impaired Cognitive Function
This symptom of opiate addiction can take various forms, some of which include:
- Muddled thinking
- Inability to make decisions
- Using poor reasoning or judgment
Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms
Opiates naturally bind with the brain’s own opiate receptor cells. This interaction results in large endorphin chemical secretions throughout the brain. As a person’s brain functions deteriorate, the brain becomes less able to maintain emotional stability on an ongoing basis.
Confusion often takes the form of indecision, forgetting things and using poor judgment when performing everyday tasks. As opiates gradually take over brain functions, a person’s cognitive functions suffer decline.
8. Increasing Tolerance Levels
According to the U.S. Library of Medicine, brain cells grow less and less sensitive to opiate effects the longer a person uses. This symptom of opiate addiction becomes the backbone of the addiction process.
9. Muscle Aches
As opiate start to take over central nervous system functions, the drug’s effects distort pain signal functions between cells. The body’s attempt to correct for chemical imbalances results in random muscle aches and pains.
10. Persistent Drug Cravings
As the brain comes to rely on opiate effects to function normally, increased tolerance levels drive the persistent drug cravings a person experiences. This symptom of opiate addiction can make it especially difficult to stop using and often continues long after a person stops using altogether.