There’s no question that the abuse of opioids and fentanyl has been on the rise throughout the United States. Given how large the epidemic has become, there’s been increased interest on the effect of opioids on the brain. After all, when you see a loved one suffering from an opioid addiction, it’s natural to want to know more about how it’s affecting them.
To put things into perspective, none of us have the brain we started out with. What we mean by this is the brain never really stops learning and adapting. But despite the fact that people are using opioids more than ever, there is still a basic misunderstanding about how these drugs impact the brain.
To fully understand how opioids have affected your loved one, we’ll walk you through what happens when opioids are used.
How Opioids Affect the Brain
Let’s begin by taking a look at what happens right after someone takes a prescription painkiller. When your loved one takes an opioid, the drug attaches to the brain’s opioid receptors and affects the part of the brain responsible for feeling pleasure.
Taking an opioid causes this reward system to be filled with a rush of dopamine and creates a high level of pleasure referred to as a high. Put more simply, think of an amplified version of the feeling you get when you work out or take the first bite into a food you’ve been craving.
But what does this mean in terms of addiction?
Well, the brain is wired to repeat anything that makes it feel good. So, the brain wants to repeat the feeling it gets from opioids. Over time, the brain forges a pathway that associates all those positive feelings with the painkillers your loved one has taken. This is how opioids work on the brain and set the foundation for addiction.
It’s Harder for the Brain to Fight Back
Unfortunately, how opioids affect the brain doesn’t stop at the reward center. When someone uses opioids for a long period of time, little structures throughout the brain called dendritic spines start to go away.
What does that mean? Well, losing these structures makes it harder to reason through problems and challenges. So, as the effects of opioids on the brain continue, your loved one’s thoughts and decisions start to be driven more by their craving for opioids.
Not only is the brain’s reward system pushing harder and harder to satisfy cravings, it’s also making it harder to resist.
Effects of Opioids on the Brain and Withdrawal
It’s possible your loved one has tried to stop taking opioids on their own and failed. Why? Because quitting opioids isn’t as easy as simply stopping.
When your loved one tries to stop taking opioids on their own, their brain slows the effects of the drug and sends them into withdrawal. With opioids, withdrawal symptoms include both physical ailments and mental health issues, including feelings of anxiety, depression, mood swings and low motivation.
This is why it’s imperative for your loved one to seek opioid addiction treatment at a credible facility like Silver Maple Recovery. With the right addiction treatment, your loved one will have the support and guidance needed to successfully detox from opioids and learn new strategies and skills to cope with triggers and cravings.
Given how powerful opioids are, your loved one needs a treatment center that can help them retrain their brain and get them on the path to recovery.
Recovery from Opioid Addiction is Possible at Silver Maple Recovery
At Silver Maple Recovery, we can help your loved break the cycle of opioid addiction by using clinically-proven and evidence-based therapy. Call us at 855-200-7521 or contact us online to help your loved one take the first step towards recovery.