I wanted to outline an important topic with regard to those people using opiates who also suffer from depression and/or anxiety conditions. It is a known fact that the use of opiates causes a number of biological changes within the brain and body when ingested. Initially, these changes can help people by increasing their energy, improving their mood, and also making them feel less anxious and depressed due to the feel-good-chemical known as dopamine being released into the brain.
I suffered extensively from anxiety and depression leading up to the beginning of my addiction with opiates, and a major factor in my reason for using opiates was due to their effect on my depression and anxiety. I felt as though the drug gave me the ability to function better, especially in work and social scenarios in which I had previously struggled. What I did not know however was that with continued use, my tolerance of the drug would grow and grow, to the point where I was taking so much everyday that I was merely taking the opiates to feel what I considered to be “normal” at the time. The initial effects that I had experienced (the feel-good-reward) had now diminished, and the vicious circle of just using to feel normal had now taken hold.
What was even more ironic with regard to using opiates in a bid to suppress my depression and anxiety was that I discovered recent research that long-term opiate abuse actually leads to and causes depression. What initially I had thought was a temporary treatment for my mental illness actually led to a major decline in my mental health – so much so that I had become severely depressed and anxious and had completely isolated myself socially during my use. The abuse of opiates has definitely been the worst decision I have made in my life and I cannot stress that enough.
What I also want to point out here is that if you like me, suffer from mental illness such as depression and/or anxiety than you should be particularly self-aware and careful of not just opiates but all sorts of medications you may be required to take or do end up taking for one reason or another. Having a depression and anxiety disorder can make other potential underlying conditions easy to pick-up, especially addictions to other drugs because we are already at a level in the brain and mind where there is an imbalance of some sort. Therefore when taking opiates, we may notice the beneficial effects initially more so than any other person, in turn – causing us to continue with using and abusing this type of drug due to its effect on our current mental health.
Opiates are already very addictive, but when we (those with depression/anxiety) take these drugs, it can very easily lead us into a false sense of belief that these drugs are an answer to our mental health problems – when clearly they are only going to lead us down a long, bitter and terrible road of addiction that could end in death.