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We are all too aware of the severity of the opioid crisis that has taken a substantial toll on lives all around the globe. The concept of long-term opioid abuse is when opioids such as pain relievers are used in excess for a period of multiple months or years, transcending their recommended dosages and intensities.

When an individual continues to use opioids for long term, they experience a continued decrease in their desirable effects, thus causing them to increase their dosage leading to dependency and an increased risk of overdose, liver failure, and other life-threatening conditions. It should go without saying that it is paramount to maintain safe practices when dealing with opioids in any capacity. So if you or a loved one are struggling with long-term opioid abuse, it’s important to seek help from comprehensive treatment programs at our addiction recovery center.

Types of opioids that can lead to long-term abuse

Various kinds of opioids can cause extended misuse, including:

Prescription opioids

Prescription opioids are powerful medications designed to alleviate moderate to severe pain. While they can be effective treatments when taken as prescribed, they come with a high risk of dependence and potentially life-threatening side effects if used inappropriately. Examples include oxycodone, hydrocodone, and fentanyl, all of which work by binding to opioid receptors in the brain and nerves, blocking the transmission of pain signals. Nonetheless, it is essential that these medications are only taken under a doctor’s supervision and with extreme care as the risks posed by long-term use or exceeding dosages may be severe.


Heroin, an illicit drug obtained from opium poppies, can be consumed in various ways, such as injecting, snorting, and smoking. It commonly appears as a white or brown powdery substance or as a black, thick compound known as “black tar” heroin. When it’s used, it generates an intense sensation of pleasure and elation, dulls the senses to pain, and leaves users feeling relaxed for many hours. Heroin affects the brain’s opioid receptors which manage emotions and control pain messages throughout the body. Frequently using the drug leads to physical dependence and increased tolerance, where consumers need a greater quantity of heroin for the same effects experienced with smaller amounts. In the long run, heroin addiction has serious health implications due to its adverse side effects and augmented risk of other diseases.

Synthetic opioids

Synthetic opioids, synthetic drugs engineered in a lab to mitigate extreme pain, bear powerful consequences for the body. Users experience pain relief, relaxation, and even euphoria – yet these medications can still be addictive if not carefully observed. Common side effects of use include drowsiness, constipation, slowed respiration, dizziness, and nausea. Such compounds are increasingly found on the streets, utilized as both prescription medication and recreationally abused drugs like heroin and fentanyl. The danger posed by the growing opioid epidemic is indisputable and cannot be overlooked.

Signs and symptoms of long-term opioid abuse

Here are some of the most common signs and symptoms:


Opioid tolerance is an all-too-real and exceedingly dangerous, problem. Over time, the body acclimates to the drug, dampening its effects even with the same amounts ingested. Not only does this lead individuals to increase their dosage in an effort to recapture the relief or “normalcy” they experienced before, but this continual upping of intake also heightens the risk of overdose, or alternatively harm to physical wellbeing. Sadly, getting out of this destructive cycle can be incredibly tricky.

Withdrawal symptoms

The detrimental effects of opioid use can be emotionally and physically oppressive. In addition to the bodily pain, individuals frequently report suffering from fluctuating emotions, sadness, and short-temperament. Withdrawal symptoms may also involve overpowering cravings for the drug as well as fatigue and mental ambiguity. These agonizing flare-ups may continue for days, weeks, or even months depending on the person’s history of opioid dependency. Medical detoxification is recommended for those attempting to quit for it grants them the opportunity to receive healthcare support during the distressing process and helps mitigate the signatures of withdrawal. Medications are available that may help reduce some of the agony related to this period.

Poor coordination

The hazardous effects of opioid abuse do not stop at poor coordination and consequent difficulty in reacting quickly. Driving a car may prove especially dangerous if the user is unable to process information promptly or react suitably and safely; further, operating machinery or handling tools while on opioids can increase the chances of sustaining grievous bodily harm as a result of a seemingly tiny mistake. Unfortunately, these detrimental side-effects of opioid abuse may stay with a person even after they have stopped using them, making them vulnerable to harm or injury for an extended duration.

Utilizing opioids for an extended period of time can have grave consequences on an individual’s physical and mental wellbeing. If you, or someone close to you, is being affected by opioid addiction, swift medical assistance is critical. With the correct resources and backing, those struggling with this type of substance dependence can reignite hope in their lives and finally break free from the shackles of addiction.