Top 5 Harmful Effects of Opium
Opium, a plant-based substance, acts as the main active ingredient for a wide variety of drugs, some of which include heroin, Demerol and codeine. Though opium does hold certain medicinal effects as a pain relief agent, even prescription-based forms of the drug start to have detrimental effects when used on a long-term basis. Anyone who uses these drugs on a long-term basis will inevitably start to experience the harmful effects of opium.
While no two people will experience the exact same symptoms, the effects of opium on the brain’s chemical processes remain the same. In actuality, the harmful effects of opium start as of the very first dose. With ongoing use, these effects become more severe to the point where a person’s health and overall quality of life start to see noticeable decline.
If you or someone you know have been taking an opium-based medication for two weeks or more, here are the top five harmful effects of opium to watch out for:
1. Increased Tolerance Levels
When ingested, the brain naturally interacts with opium materials much like it interacts with its own endorphin chemicals. The brain also has an “auto-adapt” mechanism that causes it to secrete less of its own endorphin chemicals based on the amount of opium present. This automatic mechanism results in increasing tolerance levels, which means larger doses of opium are needed to ensure endorphin levels remain at a normal level.
2. Withdrawal Effects
Depending on how long a person has used, withdrawal effects of opium can range from mildly uncomfortable to fatal. Once the brain reaches a certain tolerance level, insufficient amounts of opium offset the brain’s ability to regulate bodily functions. Withdrawal effects can easily drive a person to start using again after stopping drug use. As a rule, the longer a person uses the worse the withdrawal effects will be.
Someone experiencing increasing tolerance levels and withdrawal effects has developed a physical dependency on opium. The effects of opium cause the body’s physical dependency to grow progressively worse when left unchecked. With ongoing use, the body’s dependency on opium eventually affects the mind. When this happens, a psychological dependency on opium has developed, which is where addiction takes root. At this point, a person’s entire life revolves around getting and using opium.
According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, large enough doses of opium can sedate bodily functions to the point where respiratory failure occurs. With opium-based drugs, respiratory failure is the number one cause of overdose deaths for long-time users. Anytime a person ingests more than the body can handle, the potential for overdose exists. This means the effects of opium after not using for a while can also lead to overdose in cases where a person relapses.
5. Health Effects
The effects of opium after long-term use can take any number of forms. Opium weakens brain and body functions over time placing every major bodily system at risk. Common health problems associated with long-term opium use include:
- Respiratory problems
- Heart problems
- Weakened immune system function
- Impaired cognitive functions