How can an opiate addiction cause long-term damage to the body?

Opioids are a class of drugs that are commonly prescribed by doctors to treat pain. If the patient follows the doctor’s orders, getting addicted to opioids may be avoided, along with its negative effects. However, a quarter of patients who are prescribed opiates do end up misusing them, which can cause them to become addicted.

Opioid addiction is a disease that can cause long-term damage to the body.

Are You Getting Addicted To Opioids?

If you’ve been prescribed opioids, for instance, for chronic pain, you may not realize your growing dependence on the drug. Symptoms of opioid addiction include the inability to control the use and an uncontrollable craving for the drug. Once you develop a dependence on opiates, it can be very difficult to stop. You may even take a higher dose just to experience the same euphoric feeling you had initially. The addiction can interfere with daily life, relationships, and finances.

What Opiate Addiction Does To The Body

Opiates bind to the opiate receptors in the brain, spine, and other parts of the body and mimic the effects of natural pain-relieving chemicals produced by the brain. In effect, your pain signals are blocked. The result? You experience relief from pain.


Long-term use of opiates can affect different systems in the body. It can alter the structure of the brain, affecting the way the brain functions, which causes the patient to become obsessive about the drug. The changes in the brain can manifest in extreme changes in behavior and personality.

Respiratory System

Opiates, being a depressant, depress the respiratory system. It can be described as having a reduced urge to breathe. Decreasing activity in the central respiratory centers can have serious complications, such as brain damage due to hypoxia or lack of oxygen supply and ischemic liver injury. It can also be life-threatening and lead to respiratory failure, which is the reason behind an overdose.

Endocrine System

Opiate addiction also affects the endocrine system, due to the suppression of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis, causing a shortage in sex hormones. Clinical signs of this are more obvious in males, causing low libido and infertility. Over time, the interruption of normal endocrine function can increase osteoporosis and fracture risk in both males and females. The bone mineral density of patients addicted to opiates is lower, as opiates impair new bone formation.

Other consequences of opiate addiction include sleep issues, digestive issues, and higher levels of anxiety. With the number of long-term complications associated with opiate addiction, seek help from a doctor specializing in addiction treatment if you notice yourself becoming dependent on the drug.

Opiate Addiction Treatment Near Me

Dr. Mark Stracks of Psy Visions provides personalized and compassionate treatment for patients with substance abuse and addiction problems. We have a superior program for patients with opiate addiction that includes treatment for mental health issues. We treat patients of all ages in New York City and Connecticut.

Let us know what you need help with. Send us a secure message or give us a call at (718) 887-2918 in New York or (203) 405-1745 in Connecticut to schedule an appointment with Dr. Stracks. We look forward to your call.

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