OPIATE AND OPIOID ADDICTION IN THE BRAIN AND BODY
Your brain has specific areas that are equipped to interact with opioid chemicals because your body produces natural opioids to help control pain, pleasure and mood. Endorphins, for example, are a commonly known substance produced by the body to help you feel good — these have similar chemical structures to opioid drugs. When you take opiates or opioids, though, the effects on your brain are much stronger than your body’s natural responses. Recurring use of opiates and opioids, even for a short time, causes your brain to become accustomed to the more potent response. Your natural opioids can become insufficient to help you manage day-to-day functions, and you will begin to experience withdrawal symptoms like anxiety, mood swings, depression, headaches and cravings.
The biggest danger of opioid addiction is the way that these drugs affect your body while you are high. Opioids can slow your heart rate to dangerously low levels, especially if you build a tolerance to the drug and begin to take higher doses. Many deaths due to opioid overdoses occur because a user’s heart slows to the point of heart failure, particularly when opioids are combined with other psychoactive substances like alcohol or marijuana. Long-term abuse of opioids can result in increased sensitivity to pain, impaired motor skills, circulatory problems and sleep disorders.