Opioid Abuse & Depression: 4 Signs of a Growing Depression Disorder

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Opioids, otherwise known as prescription pain medications, offer effective treatments for relieving most any type of pain symptom. In spite of these treatment benefits, the effects of these drugs disrupt the brain’s chemical system over time when abused or used in excess.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the effects of opioid abuse on the brain greatly increase the risk of developing depression disorders. With ongoing opioid abuse, symptoms of depression become more so pronounced; however, the effects of these drugs make it increasingly difficult for a person to view opioids as the problem. For these reasons, being able to spot signs of opioid abuse early on gives you a fighting chance at preventing a full-blown depression disorder from taking root.

1. Withdrawal Episode Severity

Opioid Abuse & Depression

As the depressive symptoms worsen, one relies more and more on opioids to get through each day.

It doesn’t take very long before opioid abuse practices bring on episodes of withdrawal. Withdrawal episodes come with a range of uncomfortable symptoms, including:

  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Sweating
  • Muscle aches
  • Bouts of anxiety
  • Feelings of depression

The longer a person continues to engage in opioid abuse the more severe these symptoms become. Likewise, depression symptoms worsen in intensity, which, over time, reconfigures the brain’s chemical pathways into a depression-based pattern.

2. Weakening “High” Effects

Opioids work by forcing the production of neurotransmitter chemicals from chemical-producing brain cells. These interactions inevitably cause damage to brain cell structures making them less sensitive to the drug’s effects. This means, the usual drug dose won’t produce the anticipated “high” or “buzz” a person seeks.

These developments prompt users to keep increasing dosage level amounts to compensate for the brain’s weakening response to opioid effects, according to the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration. Meanwhile, brain cell structures undergo further damage as withdrawal symptoms grow more severe. Under these conditions, the makings for a full-blown depression disorder are well underway.

3. Loss of Interest/Motivation in Daily Life

With continued opioid abuse, a person gradually loses interest in activities and pursuits he or she once enjoyed due to the brain’s coming to rely on opioid effects as a source of contentment and well-being. Growing feelings of depression only feed into this cycle as users attempt to self-medicate depression-based symptoms with continued drug use. In effect, opioids become a person’s “healing” drug for depression as well as a powerful source of motivation throughout the day.

4. Needing Opioids to Cope with Daily Life

Full-blown depression can be debilitating in terms of the overall sense of helplessness and hopelessness this condition brings. After so many weeks or months of opioid abuse, the drug’s effects become a type of saving grace, helping a person cope with the responsibilities and pressures of the day. At this point, users are dealing with opioid addiction on top of a depression disorder, which entails an even more destructive cycle of opioid abuse behaviors.

Help for Prescription Opioid Abuse

When to Consider Treatment

Considering how opioid abuse practices can so easily snowball out of control, the sooner a person looks into getting treatment help the easier it will be to break the drug’s hold over his or her life. Without needed treatment help, ongoing damage to the brain’s chemical system only works to worsen depression symptoms making for a miserable day-to-day existence overall.

If you or someone you know struggles with opioid abuse and have further questions about opioids and depression, please don’t hesitate to call our toll-free helpline at (800) 407-7195  to speak with one of our phone counselors.

the Take-Away

Opioids, otherwise known as prescription pain medications, offer effective treatments for relieving most any type of pain symptom. In spite of these treatment benefits, the effects of these drugs disrupt the brain’s chemical system over time when abused or used in excess. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the effects of opioid abuse …