Opiate Addiction and its Effects on Your Body

Opiate Addiction and its Effects on Your Body

What Exactly Are Opiates?

Opiates are drugs that use the sap of the opium poppy plant as its chemical base. They are popular on the black market and can be found out on the street in the form of heroin. However, opiates can also be found over-the-counter in the form of painkillers like morphine, oxycodone, codeine and other similar narcotics. In any case, opiates are extremely potent and incredibly addictive. In fact, back in 2012, hundreds of thousands of people in the U.S. struggled with illicit opiate addiction and an even larger 2 million were addicted to prescribed opioid painkillers.

How Your Body Changes with Opiate Addiction

The Short-Term Risks

The milder effects of opiate use include feelings of drowsiness, fatigue, nausea, and paranoia. However, regular misuse of opiates can slow your breathing enough to cut off the flow of oxygen to other parts of your body. Oxygen deprivation in the brain can result in any number of health complications, including permanent damage.

The Long-Term Effects

Abusing opiates, whether they are prescribed or not, significantly impacts your body in more ways than listed above. If left untreated, opiate addiction can leave permanent damage to the health of your brain, lungs, digestive system, liver, immune system and even your muscles.


Ironically, the continued misuse of opioid painkillers can leave you in a lot of pain. Opiate addiction can open the door for other ailments like hyperalgesia, which is a condition that increases your pain sensitivity. Additionally, opiate addiction can also bring about psychomotor impairment and loss of coordination.


Opiates, as previously stated, suppress the flow of oxygen in your body. However, they can also hinder with the overall function of your lungs. When smoked, opiates can cause a buildup of fluids in the lungs that result in difficulty breathing. Additionally, research has shown that opiate addiction yields a greater risk of dangerous lung-related conditions like pneumonia.

Digestive System

Opiates can directly affect the muscles in the digestive system and lead to constipation. Now, constipation is a normal side effect of opiate use, even in prescribed doses. However, when you abuse opiates, you run the risk of developing more serious conditions like bowel obstruction. Long-term opiate abusers sometimes have to rely on laxatives for regular bowel movements. Otherwise, they risk damage to the anus or sphincter.


Anything you ingest is broken down and processed in your liver. So, abusing opiates, especially over-the-counter ones that contain acetaminophen, puts significant stress on the liver— enough to make it fail. When your liver fails, the toxins that it broke down can be re-released into the body and cause a variety of other health problems.

Immune System

This may come as a surprise, but opiate addiction is also linked to immune system suppression. Misuse of opiates can disrupt your immune system and its ability to keep your body functioning at its best. It’s the immune system that fights off infection and disease, so slowing it down with opiate addiction puts you at a greater risk of contracting something that could turn out to be deadly.


Sometimes the worst effects of opiate addiction come after the overdose. In the event of an opiate-induced coma, rhabdomyolysis might occur. This condition breaks down inactive muscle tissue, causing it to degenerate at an accelerated rate. The chemicals produced during rhabdomyolysis are released into the bloodstream, putting all other organs at risk.

Treatment for Opiate Addiction

Short-term effects of opiate addiction on the body could land you in a hospital bed, but the long-term effects could land you in your grave. If you or someone you know is struggling with opiate addiction, please contact Wellness Retreat Recovery Center at 888-821-0238. The professional treatments we offer for opiate abuse can help you gain control of your body again.