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Why Are Opiates So Addictive?

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What effect do opiates have on the body?

Opiates can be found in several widely-used drugs including: heroin, morphine, codeine and hydrocodone. Opiates create artificial endorphins in the brain -which produce in the early stages of use warm, good feelings in the user. But over time, opiates trick the brain into stopping the production of these endorphins naturally. At this point, the only way an opiate addict can experience positive feelings is by using the drug in question. This process is the reason why opiates are so addictive.

When the body stops producing its own endorphins, a person feels sick and depressed whenever they are not taking the opiate. For these individuals, taking the opiate, say heroin, no longer is about the positive feelings that were felt the first few times they took the drug. Now, the opiate use has become about avoided negative feeling and symptoms. When this “switch” occurs (achieving good turns to avoiding bad) the person has become addicted to opiates.

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What you need to know about opiate addiction

opiates effects on the bodySome opiates create over 100 times more endorphins (natural painkillers) than the body would naturally. Imagine the impact this has on the brain and relevant nerve cells. When the brain shuts down endorphin production because of opiate use, the addictive nature becomes clear: there is no other way to compensate for the lost endorphins except to take more and more of the opiate in question.

This is the vicious cycle of opiate addiction.

What happens when an opiate addict stop taking the drugs they have been abusing? Withdrawal symptoms occur almost immediately and can include: stress, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, depression, restlessness, lack of sleep and other debilitating effects. Because of the potentially serious nature of withdrawal – and the likelihood of the user returning to the opiate in question during this time, it is crucial that professional help is sought for the opiate addict.

If you believe you or someone you love may be addicted to opiates, please call our call center 24 hours a day 760.548.4032.