Long Term Narcotics Side Effects

Narcotic medications deliver fast relief for most any condition involving pain. For this reason, narcotics are prescribed at an alarming rate in spite of their well known side effects.

Long term narcotics side effects can potentially affect most every major system in the body. This results from their overall effects on essential neurotransmitter functions in the brain. Not only can long term narcotics side effects alter the body’s hormonal functions, but also drive users to continue using them in spite of decreasing levels of relief.

Hormonal Side Effects

Hormones are produced by the body’s endocrine system, a network of glands located in various regions throughout the body. Hormone chemicals produced by this system interact with most every cell and organ in the body and help to regulate most every major body system.

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Just a few of the systems affected by hormonal processes include:

  • Cell growth
  • Metabolism rates
  • Moods and emotions
  • Stress response
  • Heart and blood pressure rates

Narcotics, in general, depress or slow down central nervous system functions. Likewise, long term narcotics side effects work to gradually slow down chemical processes within the endocrine system.

Over time, long term narcotics side effects can cause irregularities in heart function due to the altered or slowed chemical process that regulate this system. In the same way, long term narcotics side effects on mood and emotions can cause psychological disorders, such as depression and anxiety, to develop. Slowed metabolism processes can eventually bring about chronic constipation problems and increases in weight. In terms of cell growth, slowed cell growth processes can affect the body’s ability to repair tissues and protect itself.

Physical Tolerance

Narcotics Side Effects

Prolonged use of narcotics can lead to psychological disorders.

According to the Pain Physician Journal, ongoing narcotics use causes a person’s tolerance levels to increase over time. Rising tolerance levels means the body becomes desensitized to the effects of the drug so larger doses are needed to produce the desired level of relief.

The chemical make-up of opiates practically mirrors that of the body’s own pain-relief chemicals or endorphins. In effect, taking increasingly larger doses causes the body to become dependent on the effects of the drug. Over time, this long term narcotics side effect leaves the body incapable of manufacturing its own endorphin chemicals.

Should a person reduce or stop taking narcotics, withdrawal effects, such as irritability, depression, anxiety and fatigue result. These symptoms reflect the body’s physical dependence on the drug, which is a common long term narcotics side effect.

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Learned Tolerance

As the body grows physically dependent, yet another long term side of narcotics takes shape as the mind develops expectations of certain desired effects. Over time, the mind “learns” to expect a certain degree of pleasure each time a person uses. Other factors, such as where and when a person uses, also help to develop this long term side effect of narcotics.

Learned tolerance works in much the same way as a physical tolerance wherein the mind becomes less sensitive to the effects of the drug. Just like the body starts to demand increasingly larger drug doses, the mind responds to this desensitization effect in the same way.

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the Take-Away

Chronic use of narcotics is very dangerous to your well-being. Long term narcotics side effects include changes in your hormonal system as well as the brain’s neurotransmitter network.