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Opiates Open The Addiction Trapdoor

opiate addiction

There is no reason whatsoever to doubt that opiates are effective in treating a whole raft of medical conditions. They are highly effective pain relievers.

But, there is also no doubt that when abused they will lead a person to an addiction that is relatively easy to find, but extremely difficult to overcome.

Here are just 3 of the many opiates that are widely abused and what effects they have on the brain.


The World Health Organisation (WHO) states that this opiate is the most widely used drug on the planet. It also has the reputation of being the safest opioid, but do not let that mislead.

Codeine is used to treat pain and is generally administered orally. The problem is that repeated and extended use can lead to a physical dependence upon the drug.


it needs to be understood that morphine is opium’s most active substance. This opioid is an extremely powerful painkiller. Along with its positive healing properties it is also extremely addictive.

Users addiction is rapid mainly due to the very pleasant effects the drug has on their body and mind.


While methadone does not share similar characteristics to opioids such as morphine and heroin those who abuse the drug will find the same end result; a dependence upon the drug with an addiction that is extremely difficult to walk away from.

Another huge problem with methadone is the fact that the drug is often used as a replacement treatment for those suffering with a narcotic addiction.

This substitute method certainly helps bring a person off the drug they are addicted to, but unfortunately the user often finds that they are simply swapping one addiction for another. They are now addicted to methadone!

3 ways in which opiates can change the brain:

Here are 3 ways in which repeated use and abuse of opioids change a person’s brain.

  • The limbic system: The limbic system controls a person’s emotions and increases feelings of pleasure. Repeated or extended use of opioids can cause changes to this system.
  • Blocking of pain messages: The spinal cord is vital in terms of transmitting pain messages from the body to the brain. Repeated or extended use of opioids can block these messages
  • Changes in the brain stem: The brain stem controls functions that the body automatically creates. Persistent and extended use of opioids can change the way the brain stem reacts. It can also depress breathing.

False dopamine production:

The vast majority of people produce enough natural dopamine to ensure normal feelings and thoughts. This natural and needed process allows a person’s thoughts and feelings to be expressed.

Repeated and prolonged drug use desensitizes a person’s brain reward circuits, because it causes false dopamine production. The body then assumes there is enough dopamine available so it stops natural production. At the same time, it down-regulates a user’s dopamine receptors.

What does this mean? It means that a regular drug user needs drugs simply to bring the body’s level of dopamine back to normal.

Opioid addiction:

We stated at the beginning of this piece that opioid addiction is far easier to find than it is to dismiss. Hopefully the above explains why.

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