Opioids and the opioid epidemic as a whole have garnered a significant amount of attention over the years throughout the news and in other media as well. By now, most people have a general idea about what opioids are, what they do from a medical perspective, and how they often come with a high risk of abuse and addiction.
However, it is important to shine a light on what opioid abuse and addiction can do to both the body and mind, especially the short-term effects of opioids. While many people may start taking opioids at the advice of their doctor and only as medically directed, prolonged opioid use can lead to severe short-term effects, beyond just abuse and addiction.
What are Opioids?
For those who may not fully know what opioids are, or who need a refresher, opioids are a class of drug that is predominately prescribed to treat chronic and severe pain in Los Angeles, California, often after surgery or medical procedure is done.
Opioids bind to the opioid receptors in the brain and produce feelings of euphoria and relaxation so the brain no longer recognizes the body is pain. While this may be effective for treating pain, often the brain begins to crave the feelings that it gets from an opioid and wants more of it. This can often lead to opioid abuse which can ultimately result in addiction.
Some common examples of opioids, both legal and illegal, include:
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Opioid Addiction?
Knowing the signs and symptoms of opioid addiction in Los Angeles, California is crucial when it comes to getting you or your loved one the help that they need. After all, the sooner treatment can begin, the greater the chances of either reversing or at the very least stopping any physical or mental ailments that may have formed as a result of the opioid abuse and addiction.
Common signs and symptoms of opioid addiction include:
- Increased tolerance
- Neglecting responsibilities
- Struggling at work or school
- Mood swings
- Physical symptoms such as muscle aches and pains and nausea
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Changes in appetite
- Getting into financial trouble, legal trouble, or both
- Losing interest in hobbies or activities
- Change in friend groups
- Lack of hygiene
- Continuing to use it despite knowing the consequences
- Trying to stop and being unable
What is Opioid Withdrawal?
Opioid withdrawal in Los Angeles, California occurs when a person dependent on opioids abruptly reduces or stops their use. Symptoms of opioid withdrawal can often be uncomfortable and even dangerous, leaving the person with no choice but to start taking opioids again in order to alleviate the symptoms.
The severity of opioid withdrawals is one of the many reasons why it is strongly recommended that detoxing or even tapering off opioids be done under the care and supervision of trained medical professionals. Detoxing should always be done at a local medical facility, a dedicated detox center, or a treatment facility that also offers detox services.
Common symptoms of opioid withdrawal include:
- Intense cravings
- Flu-like symptoms such as muscle aches, runny nose, sweating, and fever
- Trouble sleeping
- Abdominal pain
- Increased heart rate
- Increased blood pressure
As part of a medically supervised detox and withdrawal program, FDA-approved medications are often administered in order to help alleviate as well as treat symptoms associated with opioid withdrawal, including:
Short-Term Effects of Opioid Abuse
Opioid abuse can lead to a wide range of short-term physical and psychological effects, some of which have the potential to be life-threatening. These effects can vary depending on the specific opioid used, the dose, and the individual’s tolerance.
Some of the short-term effects of opioid abuse include:
- Drowsiness: Users often experience drowsiness or a “nodding” effect, which can impair their ability to function safely, especially when driving or operating machinery.
- Nausea and Vomiting: Many opioid users experience nausea and vomiting as a side effect.
- Constipation: Opioids can cause severe constipation, which can become a chronic issue for users.
- Cognitive Impairment: Opioid abuse can lead to impaired cognitive function, affecting decision-making and judgment.
- Respiratory Depression: Perhaps the most dangerous short-term effect, opioids can slow down breathing to a dangerous level, potentially leading to overdose and death.
Should any of the effects listed above reach a dangerous or even just concerning level, it is important to contact a medical professional or call 911 immediately.
Short-Term Effects of Opioid Addiction
As opioid misuse and abuse progresses into an addiction, the short-term effects associated with opioid abuse become more severe and dangerous.
Someone who is addicted to opioids often experiences a range of physical, psychological, and social consequences, including:
- Increased Risk of Overdose: As tolerance develops, users may take larger and more frequent doses, significantly increasing the risk of overdose.
- Financial Strain: Someone with an opioid addiction will get their hands on pills no matter what, even if it means spending money they don’t have or money that was supposed to go to paying bills on opioids. This can lead to financial struggles and debt.
- Legal Issues: Opioid addiction can lead to legal problems, including arrests for illegal possession, obtaining opioids through fraudulent means, or committing a crime while on an opioid such as a DUI.
- Broken Relationships: Addiction can strain or destroy relationships with family, friends, and romantic partners.
- Neglecting Hygiene and Health: Opioid addiction can lead to neglect of personal hygiene and health, resulting in physical deterioration.
- Risk of Infectious Diseases: Individuals who inject opioids are at higher risk of contracting infectious diseases like HIV and hepatitis due to sharing needles.
- Decline in Overall Well-being: Opioid addiction takes a toll on physical and mental health, leading to a decreased quality of life.
What are the Social Impacts of Opioid Misuse?
When it comes to not just opioid addiction but addiction of any kind, most of the attention is focused on the person suffering from the addiction. While that is certainly important, it is also important to remember that addiction affects far more than just the person battling addiction. Addiction can also affect their friends, family members, and loved ones, as well as members of their community including coworkers.
In fact, substance abuse and addiction can have significant social implications such as:
As we mentioned, opioid addiction affects much more than just the person suffering from the addiction. It also has a direct impact on the people closest to that person such as direct family members, children, and spouses or partners.
Often, the direct family members of the person struggle to cope with what their loved one is dealing with. This can result in mental health struggles for the family members and can even lead to drug and alcohol abuse as well.
Substance abuse and addiction don’t just wreak havoc on the family of the addict but on the community as well. Substance abuse and addiction can directly lead to an increase in things such as healthcare costs, crime rates, and social services utilization. These can all result in a decreased overall quality of life for the people living in that community.
In addition to the increase in healthcare costs, substance abuse and addiction can also lead to lost productivity at the workplace. Not only does this cause a financial burden to the employer, but the employee may also feel the financial strains, especially if they are missing a lot of work or if they get fired due to poor performance related to their drug use.
A significant portion of incarcerated people in the United States are in jail due to non-violent, drug-related offenses. This often leads to overcrowding in various jails and correctional facilities nationwide. Since most correctional facilities are paid for with tax dollars, the cost associated with overcrowding is being passed on to the citizens.
What is an Opioid Overdose?
An opioid overdose occurs when the body receives an overwhelming amount of an opioid and can’t process it all. While not always the case, an opioid overdose in Los Angeles, California can often be life-threatening and cause cardiac arrest, among other symptoms.
Below is a list of opioid overdose symptoms:
- Severe respiratory depression
- Pinpoint pupils
- Blue or pale skin
- Weak or no pulse
Should you or a loved one be experiencing an opioid overdose, call 911 immediately. Additionally, if you have Narcan, an opioid receptor antagonist, administer it at the first sign of an overdose to begin the reversal process.
Getting Help for the Short-Term Effects of Opioids at Westwind Recovery®
Opioid abuse can have devastating short-term effects, affecting individuals physically, psychologically, and socially. Recognizing the signs of opioid addiction and understanding the risks of opioid misuse is crucial for early intervention.
If you or a loved one is suffering from opioid abuse or addiction, contact us today.
Dr. Deena is the Chief Clinical Officer of Westwind Recovery®, an award-winning outpatient treatment center in Los Angeles where she oversees the clinical and administrative program and treatment methods. Dr. Deena is a doctor of psychology and licensed clinical social worker since 1993. LCSW #20628. Originally from the East Coast, Dr. Deena has worked running treatment centers, worked as a therapist in psychiatric hospitals as well as school settings and currently has a thriving private practice in the LA area. Dr. Deena has appeared regularly on the Dr. Phil Show as an expert since 2003. She has also been featured on many other TV shows, podcasts and has contributed to written publications as well as podcasts.