The Impact of Pain Pills on the Body: A Comprehensive Guide

In modern healthcare, the use of pain medication, especially opioids, which many commonly refer to as pain pills, is vital in managing chronic and acute pain. However, unfortunately, the impact of pain pills is also a double-edged sword because while they address pain management, in many cases, their consumption, even when monitored through prescription, can lead to abuse and potential dependency. Unfortunately, addiction to pain pills can be highly damaging to the body, affecting organs, body systems, mental health, and overall life quality for many and the communities they live in.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, of the roughly 107,000 recorded drug overdose fatalities in 2021, over 75% included opioid use. According to Forensic Science International, in 2017, the White House reported annual costs related to the opioid crisis leaping to over 500 billion dollars that year, with estimations the figure would increase. These variables reflect expenses related to healthcare, law enforcement, and lost productivity imposed on the public due to opioid use. These rates also show that the damage pain pills cause is costly to the body and public and, unfortunately, is not uncommon.

So, what exactly are opioids, and how do they impact the body?

This blog by MAT Care Clinics will provide a comprehensive guide to help you understand the impact of pain pills on the body, including the various risk factors, warning signs, and potential consequences of their long-term use. Additionally, we will explore options like MAT or medication-assisted treatment in treating addictions to pain pills, also called opioid use disorder (OUD). So, keep reading to find out more.

Click here to read information about your MAT recovery options with MAT Care Clinics located in Nashua, NH, or read other thoughtful blogs about opioid use.

What Are Opioids or Pain Pills?

Pain pills, or opioids, are a class of drugs that includes prescriptions such as:

  • Oxycodone (OxyContin)
  • Hydrocodone (Vicodin)
  • Codeine
  • Morphine
  • Fentanyl and several others.

Pain pills function by adhering to opioid receptors in the brain to reduce the individual’s cognition of pain, so they feel less pain, but the medicine also produces pleasurable effects, as the brain has natural opioid receptors, which these neurotransmitters activate.

Opioid substances also include illegal drugs like heroin, which individuals can consume in various forms like smoking, snorting, or injecting.

These different types of opioids derive from various sources, including opium poppy plants, meaning opioids can be natural, synthetic, or semi-synthetic. Each type of opioid has a characteristic means of action and distinctness in terms of potency and pharmaceutical processing.

What Is the Impact of Pain Pills on the Body?

When taken as a medical provider recommends in small doses for short periods, opioids can effectively manage pain and typically do not change a person’s life for the worse. However, if pain pills are taken long-term or in high doses, they can have harmful effects on the body. Some of these impacts range from physical effects to poor mental health outcomes. The following is a summary of the impact of pain pills on the body:

1. Physical Dependence:

Elongated consumption of opioids can lead to changes in the brain, causing physical dependence, meaning the body relies upon the drug to function normally, and withdrawal symptoms may occur if use stops abruptly.

2. Tolerance:

Over time, the body establishes a tolerance to pain pills, meaning individuals must take higher doses to achieve the same experiences of pain relief or pleasurable states; this increases the frequency of use and risk of overdose and damage to the body.

3. Overdose:

Taking high doses or using opioids in synergy with other substances or alcohol also increases the potential for overdoses, which can result in coma, brain damage, or end of life.

4. Respiratory Depression:

Pain pills can slow down breathing, leading to a decrease in oxygen levels and possible respiratory failure.

5. Gastrointestinal Effects:

Long-term use of opioids can cause constipation, nausea, and vomiting.

6. Hormonal Changes:

Opioid use has been linked to hormonal imbalances, affecting the reproductive system and potentially causing issues with fertility.

7. Organ Difficulties:

Frequent or chronic misuse of pain pills can also damage the liver and kidneys, sometimes resulting in organ failure.

8. Infectious Diseases:

Injecting opioids increases the risk of contracting infectious diseases like HIV and hepatitis, harming veins, and contracting other illnesses.

Other Impacts of Pain Pills on Life

9. Mental Health Effects:

Opioids can alter brain chemistry, leading to mood changes, depression, and anxiety. Changes in brain chemistry can also further compound the complicated issues that individuals are currently experiencing, which may cause them to turn to more opioid consumption to cope with these mental health difficulties.

10. Social and Economic Impact:

The social and economic impacts of pain pill addiction are also severe. Individuals struggling with addiction may experience strained relationships and difficulties maintaining employment and financial stability. Additionally, individuals addicted to pain pills may even begin to acquire legal issues due to drug-related crimes.

11. Financial Strain:

The cost of obtaining prescription pain pills or street drugs can be financially devastating, leading to debt and financial stress that can harm more than just the person using.

Individuals need to understand the impact of pain pills on their bodies and overall well-being and seek alternative forms of pain management or dependency, like physical therapy, medication-assisted therapy, traditional addiction treatment rehabs, or attending 12-step meetings.

Additionally, open communication with healthcare providers and following prescribed dosage instructions can also reduce the risk of developing an opioid use disorder.

Risk Factors for Opioid Addiction

Anyone can develop a dependence on pain pills. However, some individuals may be at a higher risk due to various factors like:

  • A history of substance abuse or addiction
  • Mental health disorders like depression or anxiety
  • Genetics and family history
  • Chronic pain conditions
  • Young age (adolescents and young adults)

Warning Signs of Opioid Addiction

Recognizing the warning signs of opioid addiction in yourself or someone close is often possible. It includes many of the following warning signals:

  • Taking more than the prescribed pain medication
  • Trying to obtain the medication from multiple doctors or sources
  • Changes in behavior, such as increases in irritability or mood swings
  • Neglecting responsibilities and relationships
  • Isolating oneself or avoiding social activities

Medication-Assisted Treatment and Addressing Pain Pill Addictions and OUDS

MAT, or medication-assisted treatment, is an evidence-based approach with proven success rates in helping people overcome opioid addiction. MAT treatments utilize specialized medications alongside complimentary counseling services that support the patient in addressing the underlying psychological factors that contribute to addiction.

MAT medications work by targeting the same opioid receptors in the brain that pain pills stimulate, which produces a milder effect and helps prevent challenging withdrawal symptoms and cravings that can become overwhelming so patients can stay sober from other opioids and focus on healing their addiction instead of battling intense sickness or cravings.

MAT works by using medications like some of the following:

  • Methadone
  • Buprenorphine
  • Naltrexone
  • Suboxone

By mitigating intense physical challenges, like constant cravings, MAT care is an effective tool for long-term recovery, allowing individuals to focus on their recovery and rebuilding their lives.

Pain Pills Aren’t Always the Answer

Pain pills may seem like a quick and easy solution for managing pain, but the choice to take them comes with significant risks that no patient should take lightly.

The science behind opioids demonstrates how detrimental their impact can be on our bodies and minds, leading to active addiction and other serious health repercussions. Fortunately, there is hope for those struggling with opioid use disorder through medication-assisted treatment and other recovery options.

Fortunately, with the proper support and resources, individuals suffering from an OUD can find freedom in recovery and live a more fulfilling life that is safer, healthier, and most likely longer. So don’t hesitate seeking help.

More about Recovery from Pain Pill Addictions with MAT Care Clinics

MAT Care Clinics helps individuals and families affected by opioid use disorder. Our expert MAT team of medical professionals and addiction specialists provide comprehensive assessments and personalized MAT treatment plans to address the distinct needs of every patient suffering from substance use conditions.

We understand that overcoming opioid addiction can be tricky, but with the proper clinical support and guidance, recovery is possible. MAT Care Clinics offers various medication-assisted treatment services to ensure you find the clinical path best for you.

Our team at MAT Care Clinics commits to providing a compassionate, non-judgmental environment where individuals can feel safe and supported on their MAT journey to sobriety. So call us at (833) 622-0628 or contact us via this link.

Remember, seeking professional support, like that offered at MAT Care Clinics, is not a symptom of personal weakness or moral failure but rather a courageous step toward healing and safer life, free from the chains of addiction to dangerous substances like pain pills.

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