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Poppy Capsules

Opium cast its spell on mankind a long time ago.

Pain is banished. Anxiety disappears. Homer once wrote that those who consumed opium “did not shed a tear all day long, even if their mother or father had died, even if a brother or beloved son was killed before their own eyes.”

Opiates, the modern drugs derived from opium, can have devastating effects on the body. The powerful drugs will take away your pain, but they can also destroy your organs and leave you psychologically addicted.

Everyone knows that becoming hooked on opiates can send your life into a downward spiral. But few people know why.

Let’s take a look at the effects of opiates on the body and brain.

What Are Opiates?

Oxycontin, heroin, morphine. There are a host of opiates on the market now. Opiates are drugs prescribed for pain relief. They’re created using opium, a natural substance extracted from poppy plants.

Mammal bodies naturally produce opioids. Opiate drugs bind to the body’s many opioid receptors. Your brain receives a rush of pleasure after you take a hit.

Most opiates are Schedule II drugs, which means that they carry an extremely high risk of dependency but also have some medicinal value. Street-level opiates like heroin are classified as Schedule 1 drugs because the government believes that there’s no value to them. However, they carry the same risk of dependency.

There are four different classes of opiates: fully synthetic, semi-synthetic, opium alkaloids, and those that occur naturally in the body.

How do Opiates Cause Addiction?

Opiates activate the reward center of your brain. After you ingest the drug, you’ll experience an intense burst of pleasure. Your body will start to crave more and more of the good feeling.

If you’re using legally-prescribed opiates for pain, addiction often creeps in the longer you use the medication. Your body adapts to the substance very quickly. A dose that completely abolished your pain in week one may not even be enough to take the edge off by week ten.

Recreational users are also at risk of becoming addicted. The more opiates that you consume, the more your brain begins to associate the drug with pleasant feelings. The brain demands more and more of the good feelings.

The brain’s mesolimbic reward system is responsible for feelings of happiness and pleasure. The system is triggered when you consume opiates.

Once the brain is addicted to opiates, it can become hard to function without them. When you reach this stage, it’s time to receive treatment.

How do Opiates Affect the Brain

Opiates affect your entire personality. That’s because of the way the molecules interact with your brain. Users report experiencing waves of euphoria after consuming opiates.

The effects exist if you take street opiates like heroin or if you’re taking drugs prescribed by your doctor. Opiates can damage your body and brain the first time that you take them. Opioids manufactured in a laboratory are significantly stronger than those produced by your body.

The joy that fills your body after you consume opiates is much stronger than what you would normally experience.

Short-term Effects

Most of the damage from opiates occurs after long-term abuse. However, changes in the brain can sometimes be apparent after just a few uses.

Possible side effects after a single dose of opiates include “drowsiness, mental confusion, nausea, and constipation.”

Long-term effects

The brain’s reward system literally begins to rewire itself after it’s exposed to opioids. People who become addicted to the drug sometimes have trouble recreating happy feelings on their own.

Long-term opiate use can also affect your ability to handle natural stress. Repeated use damages parts of your brain.

Once your brain is addicted opiates, a tolerance is built up. This can lead to a physical dependence upon the drug.

Effects of Opiates on the Body

Opiates can have absolutely devastating effects on the body. Yet they’re still commonly prescribed by Western physicians. The medicine is both effective and deadly.

The drugs have a profound effect on the body as well as the brain. The addiction cycle can destroy your physical health. Most of your major organs are affected when you become an opiate user.

Opiate drug abusers suffer from a significant number of health problems. They’re also a lot more likely to die than non-users. Quality of life tends to plummet after addiction is formed.

Respiratory System

The respiratory system rarely escapes the ravages of repeated opiate use. Opiates are depressants, which means that after you consume them your breathing slows. Take too strong of a dose, and your breathing might stop entirely.

If you don’t die, you could end up in respiratory arrest. Your organs won’t receive oxygen. If the situation lasts too long, it could lead to permanent damage.


Gastrointestinal issues are among the side effects from prolonged opiate use that people rarely think about. However, the effects can be very extreme. Opioid-induced bowel dysfunction is a serious problem affecting millions of Americans.

The dysfunction can cause a host of unpleasant symptoms. Cramping, constipation and bloating are all likely. Sometimes even more serious gastrointestinal problems like diverticular disease occur.

“The constellation of GI signs and symptoms associated with opioids is referred to as opioid-induced bowel dysfunction (OBD) (13,17). OBD, the most common and often most debilitating symptom of which is constipation, can have a significant adverse impact on patients taking opioids,” reads a study published by the International Journal of Clinical Practice.

Narcotic bowel syndrome occurs when the drug user is physically affected after eating. Symptoms include vomiting, nausea, and intense abdominal pain. If it’s not treated quickly, the condition can lead to severe malnutrition.

It’s estimated that over 60% of opiate abusers will experience bowel problems because of their addiction. The most common issue is constipation.


Constant drug use destroys the liver. Opiates can severely harm the organ. Vicodin and Lortab are especially damaging. When people misuse these drugs and mix them with alcohol or other painkillers, the effect on the liver is catastrophic.

When the liver becomes too damaged, it loses its ability to effectively filter out toxins.

These are just a few of the more common ways that opiates can ruin your body. The damage is often permanent and fatal. People who are tempted to try opiates recreationally should consider if they think the negative consequences are worth it.


Opiates are very bad for your heart. The risk of suffering from a heart attack or other cardiovascular event if you’re a frequent opiate abuser is astonishingly high.

Recreational users may have other problems as well. A lot of people who use heroin inject it into their veins so they can feel a more immediate high. ‘

Your veins can collapse if you inject too many needles into them. Also, if you use a dirty or contaminated needle, you’ll end up injecting the filth directly into your bloodstream.

Immune System

Your immune system is likely to suffer after prolonged opiate abuse. Fentanyl is particularly harmful. Research indicates that opioids destroy a part of the immune system that’s integral for fighting off cancer.

Sleep Patterns

Some recreational users begin taking opiates because they believe that the drugs will help them sleep. However, long-term addicts often have to deal with sleep-related breathing problems.

Sleep apnea is when the breath becomes fitful and starts and stops during the night. This is extremely common among opiate users.

Endocrine System

If you develop a dependence on opiates, it can have an adverse effect on your body’s natural ability to regulate its hormones.

Long-term abuse can lead to problems with sexual dysfunction as well as infertility. If the hormonal imbalance is severe, it can lead to insulin resistance and diabetes.

Opiate Overdose

It’s very easy to overdose on opiates accidentally. Tens of thousands of Americans and Canadians are dying from prescription drug overdoses every single year. The number is getting worse rather than improving.

People who mix their drugs with alcohol or other depressants have an increased chance of suffering from an overdose.

What Happens During an Overdose?

An overdose can occur before you realize what’s happening. When you take too much of an opiate, you lose consciousness as your respiratory system becomes depressed and less oxygen makes it to your brain.

Millions of people in the world die every year from opiate overdoses. A lot of people die after taking medication that was legally prescribed to them. People who are into street drugs are at risk of death as well.

Oxycodone and Hydrocodone are among the most frequently prescribed painkillers. Both of these substances have been implicated in thousands of deaths.

People’s risk of death increases after they start to develop a tolerance. A longtime opiate abuser who’s trying to get high can easily take more than he or she intended to.

Symptoms of an Opiate Overdose

There are now methods in place to save people who are overdosing on opiate drugs. It’s critical that you can recognize the signs, so you know when treatment is necessary.

Symptoms include:

  • Vomiting
  • Extraordinary fatigue
  • Inability to wake up
  • Delirium
  • Drifting in and out of consciousness
  • Severe breathing problems
  • Cold skin
  • Bluish-tinge to skin

Save a Life. Use Narcan

Narcan is the brand name of a very special and very controversial medication known as naloxone. It can be used to halt an opioid overdose. It’s either injected into the patient’s veins or sprayed into their nostrils.

It may be the only way to save a life. Taking opiates can cause you to stop breathing. If this happens, Narcan is your best shot.

Using Narcan

You can’t use Narcan on yourself if you’re overdosing. Mostly because you’re almost certainly unconscious by the time that it becomes clear that Narcan is

Because the overdosing person can’t administer the treatment themselves, the role often falls into the hands of a good friend or loved one. Everyone who cares for an opioid addict should understand how to use Narcan.

It needs to be administered immediately. Once someone breathing becomes dangerously slow, they’re at great risk of suffering permanent damage.

The brain is in a particularly dangerous spot. Brain damage can occur if the brain goes too long without sufficient oxygen.

If you’re using the spray version, spray one time in just one nostril. One dose is likely enough to revolve someone. The nasal spray produce is only sold with a single dose.

After you spray the Narcan into a nostril, you need to get rid of it.

However, you may need to open another package so you can start the process all over again. If the first attempt to revive the person didn’t work, you should try again. Take a fresh Narcan bottle and spray into the other nostril.

You should also re-administer the medicine if the person wakes up temporarily but goes back to sleep.

Make sure you call 911 the moment that you realize there’s a problem. Even if Narcan works on your first attempt and the person wakes up.

Get Help for Opioid Addiction

Dealing with opioid addiction is brutal. The effects of opiates on the body are extremely intense. If you think you have opioid addiction we highly suggest contacting an accredited drug rehab center.

The opioid epidemic is spiralling out of control because a lot of people become addicted before they realize what’s happening. They’re prescribed Vicodin and morphine after an injury, and they don’t think about the risks.

“We often talk about the opioid epidemic as a singular epidemic. But if you look at it it’s actually two distinct epidemics going on simultaneously,” said Jon Zibbell, a senior public health scientist at a prominent nonprofit.

“In some states, prescription opioids were driving the epidemic. In other states, illicit opioids are driving the epidemic. And in some states, it’s both.”

The opioid crisis is multifaceted. People are falling prey to drug dealers and pharmaceutical companies.

If you or someone you care about is addicted to opiates, you’re not alone. There’s hope for recovery. You can get your life back on track if you’re willing to work for it. If you suffer from alcohol, drug or opioid addiction, you can approach us to get help.

Trafalgar Addiction Treatment Centres

Trafalgar Addiction Treatment Centres

We offer residential and outpatient rehab treatment programs for addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders.

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