Menu Close

Recovery Blog

a logo of people with arms raised in a circle

A Ray of Light to a Path of Recovery

Start Your Recovery Today!

What Are Opioids and Why Are They Dangerous?

troubled young woman seated on her couch at home with her head in her hands wondering what are opioids and why are they dangerous

If you or a loved one is living with opioid dependence, you’re not alone. Millions of people develop addictions to this powerful class of drugs, and many such cases begin with legitimate opioid use. The sad truth is that while these drugs can function as powerful and effective painkillers, the dangers of opioids are also very significant. For information on effective opioid abuse treatment in the Hudson, Ohio, area, contact Ray Recovery at 888.598.6299 or by messaging us online.

What Are the Negative Effects of Opioids?

Opioids are a potent class of central nervous system depressants. While the term “opiate” refers to drugs like heroin, morphine, and codeine, which are derived from the poppy plant, “opioid” also encompasses variants made synthetically or semi-synthetically. A few examples of such opioids are fentanyl, oxycodone, hydrocodone, and tramadol.

While their specific effects vary, opioids all have the power to reduce physical sensations of pain by blocking the nerve impulses that normally convey it to the brain. They likewise have a substantial effect on the brain’s reward center. They increase the activity of the neurotransmitter dopamine and create strong feelings of pleasure or euphoria.

When used correctly in short-term courses to manage pain after, say, major surgery, opioids can be effective medicine. Their danger, however, lies in the fact that they have a very high addiction potential. They can easily become habit-forming because they so strongly modify the brain’s normal dopamine pathways. With relatively few uses, the brain effectively “forgets” how to manage its dopamine levels without the drug, and unpleasant side effects like cravings trigger the user to seek out ever more of the drug.

Beyond their potential to create patterns of addiction, opioids are also dangerous because of their effect on bodily processes. As central nervous system depressants, they can strongly reduce heart rate and blood pressure. In the case of overdose, this can lead to suffocation due to extremely shallow breathing and oxygen deprivation.

How to Recognize the Signs of Problematic Opioid Use

If you think you or someone you care about may have crossed over into problematic opioid use, getting help soon is crucial. Given the high potential for addiction and fatal overdose, it’s vital to recognize the signs of substance abuse disorders (SUDs) involving opioids early and seek help. Here are some indicators that clinical intervention may be needed:

  • You have chronically low energy, experience mental fog, and may struggle to stay awake.
  • Rapid weight loss and appetite decrease have occurred.
  • You’re significantly less interested in sexual activity than you used to be.
  • Professional and social activities that used to be important to you are much less so.
  • You engage in dishonest behavior to ensure you keep getting access to opioids. This may include “doctor shopping” to get more than one prescription or stealing another’s pills.
  • Flu-like symptoms such as nausea or vomiting are present.
  • Your skin has a blue or purplish tint, your heart rate is faint, and you are often cold.
  • You’re experiencing financial problems due to a fixation on getting your next batch of opioids, possibly at the expense of working or attending to other duties.
  • Relationships are suffering due to neglect or behavior altered by drug use.

If you or someone you care about is exhibiting some or all of these signs, don’t wait to get help. While opioids like fentanyl get a lot of attention in the media, even prescriptions that may seem harmless can sometimes lead to problematic usage. Getting a professional opinion is invaluable in determining the most effective way to ensure addictive drugs don’t take over your life.

Learn More About Opioid Dangers and Effective SUD Treatment at Ray Recovery Now

Remember that if you’re living with a substance use disorder like opioid dependence, effective treatment is available to you. With medically monitored detox, individual mental health counseling, peer support, and other interventions, your chances of lasting recovery are high. To learn more about such treatments in Ohio, call Ray Recovery at 888.598.6299. You can also speak with a caring member of our team by sending us a message online.