How Do Opioids Affect the Brain?

White,Prescription,Pills,Spilled,Onto,A,Table,With,Many,Prescription Prescription opioid addiction is a health condition that can be difficult to understand, even for those who have experienced it. Understanding how opioids affect the brain can provide helpful hints to some of the reasons they are so addictive.

Understanding Opioid Receptors

Think of opioid receptors as receivers scattered throughout the brain and other parts of the nervous system. These receptors can pick up and broadcast messages that signal either pleasure or pain.

For example, when the body naturally produces endorphins, opioid receptors pick them up and broadcast a sense of well-being. Opioid drugs work by artificially mimicking the same signals as a massive rush of natural endorphins.

Not only do opioid receptors respond by blocking any feelings of pain the body may be experiencing, but by creating a feeling of well-being. These pleasure signals can result in a sense of euphoria, which some people experience more intensely than others.

The Effects of Long-Term Opioid Use

When a patient uses opioids for a long time, their body begins to mistake these artificial pleasure signals for those naturally produced by the brain. As a result, the body begins to decrease its natural production of endorphins and other chemicals that signal reward or pleasure.

The fewer natural pleasure indicators the body produces, the more opioid drugs a user will have to take to produce the same euphoric effect. Over time, the brain becomes heavily dependent on opioid drugs to feel pleasure or even to feel normal.

Unfortunately, an increased tolerance can also come with a much higher risk of overdose. It can also make those with substance use disorder feel much more desperate to continue using, as stopping abruptly can result in the short-term depression that often accompanies withdrawals.

Break free from Opioid Addiction at Resilience Health

At Resilience Health, our team of highly-trained medical professionals offers the resources patients need to break free from opioid addiction safely and successfully. If you or a loved one are struggling with opioid addiction in Heber City, UT, don’t hesitate to reach out for help at 435-261-7878. You can also reach us anytime through our online contact form.

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