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How Opiates Affect The Body

Being addicted to opiates can take over every aspect of your life, both socially and physically. Opiates control your mood from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to sleep. In a short amount of time, they can completely change the way your body works, thinks and functions.

Opiates affect the respiratory system by depressing actions on the brain stem that regulate breathing rhythm and drive. In order for humans to survive, breathing is a necessity.  When the body is working at a healthy capacity, the breathing rate for most people ranges from 12 to 20 breaths per minute. A side effect of opiates is the suppression on your respiratory system.  Abusing opiates can cause severe respiratory depression which may result in respiratory failure. A slow breathing rate is the beginning sign of the body shutting down during an overdose which is why it's important to seek professional medical treatment immediately if you or someone you suspect has overdosed on opiates.

Opiates also greatly affect the cardiovascular system. When a person consumes an opiate, their heart rate decreases which is known as bradycardia (slow heart rate). They work on the regulatory centers in the brain stem as well as the heart and the blood vessels. Excess use of opiates can drop the heart rate down to dangerous levels resulting in heart failure, and death.

Another side affect of opiates is on the gastrointestinal tract. Many individuals who are on opiates for a period of time are familiar with constipation. This is due to the fact that opiates decrease movement in the gastrointestinal tract. This slowing of passing fecal matter causes it to build up and cause an uncomfortable feeling. Nausea and vomiting are common effects caused by the slowing process of emptying the stomach contents and direct actions on the brains vomiting center.

Using opiates over a period of time leads to tolerance. The body desires more of the drug to provide the effects it felt when first starting to use. The problem is that the body never feels the same way as it did the first time using opiates. This desire is sometimes known as “Chasing The Dragon.” The body will never be fulfilled the same way again and the only outcome from increasing opiates over time are the toxic effects on the body.

Opiates ingested over a long period of time do major damage to many systems of the body. They will either slowly destroy your health by breaking down these systems or you may cause permanent damage from an overdose. Either way, nothing good can come from the over consumption of opiates.  If you value your health or the health of a loved one abusing, please seek help before it is too late.

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