Effects of Prolonged Use of Opiates

Opiates are not too toxic substances, compared to the other drugs such as alcohol, which is the drug with the most toxic effects for all organisms. The major medical problem with opiates is overdose, which often occurs when tolerance has been developed for effects on mood but not for effects on the respiratory system, that is, the respiratory depression continues to occur as with the initial dose, but to achieve the desired effects in the mood requires a larger dose, which eventually leads to a respiratory failure that can cause death, brain damage or lack of oxygen.

The use of shared syringes can lead to the spread of diseases such as AIDS and the use of drugs ‘cut’ with certain substances can cause serious damage to the various organs. In addition, poor nutrition and hygiene of these types of addicts often produces infections.

Prolonged use of opiates can permanently damage the patient’s natural opiate system, the production of endorphins, resulting in the chronic depression and anxiety.

The chronic users may develop infections of the heart walls and valves, constipation, gastrointestinal cramps, and kidney or liver disease. Poor health that these people often have along with the effects of heroin on the respiratory system can lead to pneumonia.

Abortion, low birth weight babies, or babies born with heroin dependence and withdrawal syndrome can occur in the pregnant women. In addition, the heroin they sell on the streets is often adulterated with toxic substances that can clog the blood vessels in the lungs, liver, heart, kidneys or brain.

Withdrawal Syndrome

It occurs when the substance is removed from the body, which may take more or less depending on the type of drug used. Heroin, for example, takes a few hours to disappear from the body, while methadone takes a day or two.

The symptoms of withdrawal syndrome have been compared to those of influenza and it is not physically dangerous unlike the withdrawal syndrome of alcohol addiction or tranquilizers. It lasts about a week. The most typical symptoms are as follows;

Muscle aches and pains
Restlessness
Diarrhea
Sweating
Fever
Sleeping problems
Desire to use the substance

Sometimes a prolonged withdrawal syndrome lasts for several months. It is accompanied by mild chronic depression and a lack of tolerance to stress, sometimes with a desire to take the drug. It is not clear whether it is due to the effects of the drug or the existence of certain psychological problems.

The patient might need admission in the drug rehab center if the effects of opiates seem to be of intense and persistent nature.

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