Pain-relief medications like opiates do a good job at eliminating pain symptoms, though the effects these drugs have can be far-reaching and harmful. Opiate addictions develop in subtle ways that often go unnoticed. Whether a person takes opiates on a prescription basis or takes them for recreational purposes, the risk of becoming addicted is always there.
Commonly missed opiate addiction signs happen slowly, with each successive dose disrupting brain chemical processes a little bit at a time. Meanwhile, opiate effects on brain functions chip away at the brain’s ability to function normally. Opiate addiction signs can develop as part of a pain management regimen as withdrawal effects coax users into steadily increasing dosage amounts. Likewise, recreational users find themselves steadily increase their dosage amounts as withdrawal effects become more pronounced.
Opiate Addiction Effects
Derived from the opium poppy plant seed, opiates naturally contain powerful sedative agents, such as morphine and codeine. The sedating effects of opiates also carry analgesic properties that reduce actual pain symptoms by slowing down nerve signal communications between cells, according to Semel Institute. All of this takes place inside the central nervous system, which regulates most every vital chemical process in the body.
The slowing of nerve signal communications requires an influx of endorphin chemicals throughout the brain and body. With repeated use, the brain loses its ability to produce endorphin chemicals, which marks the beginning of opiate addiction effects.
While all this takes place, opiate addiction effects are working to rewire the brain’s reward system to the point where the effects of the drug become a primary motivator for most everything a person does. At this point, a person has become both physically and psychologically dependent on the effects of the drug. As the brain becomes more and more dependent on opiates, opiate addiction effects grow increasingly stronger the longer a person continues to use.
While opiates do a bang-up job in relieving pain symptoms, the brain and body quickly adapt to opiate effects over time. In many cases, a person ends up taking increasingly larger doses to relieve the same level of pain symptoms. Over time, steadily rising tolerance levels become an easily overlooked opiate addiction effect.
This tolerance process will continue for as long as a person keeps taking opiates. After a while, a person comes to believe he or she needs the drug in order to cope with everyday life. From there, opiate addiction effects start to affect a person’s performance on the job, interactions with family and friends and ultimately start to take a toll on his or her physical health.
As tolerance levels increase, a person will start to experience withdrawal effects that continue to grow worse as tolerance levels rise. It’s not uncommon for some withdrawal effects to resemble flu symptoms, some of which include:
- Problems sleeping
While these opiate addiction signs typically appear during the early stages of dependency, ongoing use will bring on more severe symptoms, such as anxiety, depression, and ongoing fatigue.