Resources & Education

October 25th, 2015

The Side Effects of Opiates

SIDE EFFECTS black stamp text on whiteWhen used carefully and correctly, opioids can provide relief from pain. This of course can help people in the healing process. Opioids also cause sensations of pleasure and reward—more strongly in some people than in others—which is one of the reasons they are so often abused. People who begin taking them for pain relief may find themselves craving the positive psychological effects even after the pain is gone. How do you know if someone you love is abusing a painkiller, and how can you recognize addiction?

One of the first things to note is how the person is taking the drug. If they are grinding the pills and snorting the powder, or smoking it, or even mixing it with water and injecting it, there’s obviously a problem. But it may be harder to tell if someone is taking more than they should at a time, taking them more frequently than prescribed, or taking them for longer than the doctor recommended. These are all danger signs of drug abuse, as are unsuccessful attempts to stop taking the drug or to decrease the amount taken, and constantly talking about using and recovering from using the drug.

Another way to know if someone is abusing a painkiller is to watch for certain side effects. The most common side effects noted with abuse of painkillers are:

  • fatigue
  • breathlessness
  • acting elated for no apparent reason
  • frequent nausea
  • confusion
  • difficulty breathing
  • chest pain

You may also notice, or hear reports of:

  • anxiety attacks
  • irritability
  • lowered motivation
  • increased heart rate
  • high blood pressure
  • decreased appetite
  • difficulty sleeping
  • constipation

Unfortunately, someone who is addicted to opioids may not realize it, or want to accept it. After all, prescription drugs are seen as less harmful than street drugs. So if you suspect a friend or loved one is abusing opioids, call our HOPE line at (855) 969-HOPE. We can provide answers and guidance to help you address the problem 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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