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The Dangers of Long-Term Opioid Use

a man considers the dangers of long-term opioid use and opioid addiction

Opioids are a type of painkiller. Some of them are legal and distributed as prescriptions to people with chronic pain. However, heroin is also an opioid, making them a type of drug that straddles the world of legal, medical use and illicit substances. Complicating things further is the fact that recent decades saw an overprescription of opioids that sparked an opioid addiction crisis. In many cases, a lower-level opioid became a gateway to more potent and dangerous drugs like fentanyl or heroin. Besides the danger of addiction, long-term opioid use involves a number of hazards to a person’s overall health. Reach out to Vertava Health by calling 844.470.0410 to find out more about the dangers of opioid use.

The Impacts of Long-Term Opioid Use

Research into long-term opioid use shows that no part of the body is left untouched. One of the biggest dangers of opioid use is the possibility of opioid addiction. However, long-term opioid use involves a lot of other adverse outcomes as well. The impact of long-term opioid use on different parts of the body is described below.

The Gastrointestinal System

One outcome of long-term opioid use is chronic constipation. In fact, chronic constipation is one of the most common dangers of opioid use. As many as half of people who use opioids per prescription instructions experience some level of constipation. So it is no surprise that the problem is more prevalent among people who abuse opioids. Other gastrointestinal problems related to opioid use include:

  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Bloating
  • Stomach cramps

Respiratory System

Opioids are known to cause slow or irregular breathing. Breathing trouble resulting from opioid use is actually one of the more dangerous side effects. Opioid overdose can be lethal because opioids suppress the respiratory system, which could potentially lead to coma or death.

Cardiovascular System

Opioid addiction can also cause damage to the cardiovascular system. One potential outcome of long-term opioid use is the development of heart rhythm abnormalities. The risk of heart attack and stroke both increase the longer someone abuses opioids.

Reproductive System

The reproductive system is yet another part of the body that is impacted by long-term opioid use. Among men, it often results in making them less fertile. The impact is similar among women, with decreased fertility a common outcome of opioid addiction. Furthermore, women who use opioids long-term increase their risk of pregnancy loss and complications during pregnancy. Mothers who use opioids while pregnant may give birth to a child who suffers from neonatal abstinence syndrome, which causes the baby to go into opioid withdrawal upon birth.

Skeletal System

Opioid use can also negatively impact the skeleton over time. Particularly among the elderly, long-term opioid use increases the risk for falls and fractures. Falls become more likely because opioid use often decreases motor coordination and balance. Bones naturally decrease in toughness as people age. Thus, more falls can lead to more fractures.

Get Help at Vertava Health

The dangers of opioid use are real and not something that can be ignored. The only way to reduce the dangers of opioid use is to stop using them altogether. Abstinence is the safest route to avoiding opioid addiction and its resulting risks.

Nonetheless, stopping opioid use is often easier said than done. Many people benefit from a prescription opioid addiction treatment program. And in cases where opioid addiction is present, a person isn’t able to stop using. Addiction is more complex than that and not simply a personal choice. Over time, addiction changes people physically and psychologically.

Regaining sobriety is possible through dedicated professional help and support. The best thing to do when struggling with opioid addiction is to seek help somewhere like Vertava Health. Call 844.470.0410 today to find out how Vertava Health can help you or someone you love overcome opioid addiction.