Opiate Overdose Risks & the Dangers of Not Getting Needed Treatment Help

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While no one starts using opiates with the intention of abusing these drugs or becoming addicted, opiate effects take on a life of their own inside the brain’s chemical system. For people who’ve abused opiates for months at a time, the risk of opiate overdose increases with each passing day.

Opiate overdose risks develop out of the cumulative damage these drugs cause within the brain’s chemical pathways. Long-term abuse practices inevitably open a person up to the addictive potential of the drug. It’s at this point where opiate overdose risks become most pronounced. In the absence of needed treatment help, addicts essentially play a game of Russian Roulette with their lives each time they use the drug.

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The Makings of an Opiate Overdose Episode

Brain Interactions

Opiate Overdose Risks

Withdrawal effects such as insomnia and restlessness can trigger opiate abuse.

As the most effective pain-relieving agents ever developed, opiate drugs work by slowing nerve signal transmissions throughout the body’s central nervous system. According to the U. S. National Library of Medicine, this mechanism works to block incoming pain signals from reaching the brain.

This slowing effect not only affects nerve signal transmissions, but also the major systems in the body, which includes the respiratory system, the cardiovascular system and the circulatory system. Opiate overdose risks stem from the impact these drugs have on the body’s major systems.

Withdrawal Effects

When used in excess, opiate effects overexert the brain’s chemical-producing processes, placing considerable strain on the cells that secrete neurotransmitter materials. Over time, these cells lose their ability to function normally and start to rely on opiate effects to secrete needed chemical supplies.

In the process, the body starts to develop withdrawal symptoms in response to the brain’s weakening functional capacity. Withdrawal symptoms, such as fatigue, depression, insomnia and restlessness play a pivotal role in prompting continued drug use as users attempt to self-medicate uncomfortable withdrawal effects.

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47,300* People Addicted
23,100* Getting Help
8,209* Deaths
*Statistic from 2015

Tolerance Level Increases

One of the things that make opiates so addictive lies in the brain’s ability to tolerate increasing larger amounts of the drug. According to the Journal of Addiction Science & Clinical Practice, tolerance level increases develop in response to the ongoing damage opiates cause to chemical-producing cells in the brain.

With each tolerance level increase, a person must take larger drug doses in order to experience the anticipated “high” effect. This process continues on indefinitely for as long as a person keeps abusing opiates. Overall, the combined effects of withdrawal and increasing tolerance levels create optimal conditions for an opiate overdose event to take shape.

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High Risk Scenarios

Opiate overdose risks not only develop during the course of drug abuse, but also become a factor in cases where a person successfully completes detox and relapses shortly thereafter. Under these conditions, opiate overdose risks run exceedingly high as the brain’s tolerance level plummets once a person stops using the drug.

This leaves a person wide open to ingesting toxic amounts of opiates in an attempt to pick where he or she left off in terms of dosage amount. When this happens, users not only risk ending up with severe brain damage, but can also die since the body’s respiratory system can easily shutdown in response to too high a dose.

The Opiate Overdose Epidemic: Is Someone You Know at Risk?

Treatment Considerations

More often than not, by the time a person reaches a point where opiate overdose risks become a factor, a full-blown addiction has likely taken hold. Once addiction sets in, it’s all but impossible to reduce or control intake amounts, which leaves the door wide open for an opiate overdose event to occur.

If you or someone you know struggles with opiate addiction and have questions about the risks surrounding opiate overdose, please feel free to call our toll-free helpline at (800) 407-7195  for more information. Our addictions specialists can also help connect you with treatment programs in your area.

the Take-Away

Factors such as withdrawal symptoms and tolerance level increases contribute to one’s opiate overdose risk. Without treatment help, someone who abuses narcotics will likely overdose at some point.