Opiates are often prescribed for pain relief. However, they are commonly abused either in the form of prescription drugs or street drugs, such as heroin. Regardless of the opiate or how it was obtained, opiates have high abuse potential. There is a high risk of addiction to opiates, and therefore, many people each year undergo opiate addiction treatment at drug addiction treatment centers, like AspenRidge Recovery in Lakewood, Colorado.
Opiates Block Pain Pathways
When your body is damaged, it sends out pain signals through the nervous system. This is a survival mechanism. When things hurt, we tend not to want to repeat them. Pain can also cause you to take it easy on an injured body part, allowing it time to heal.
Typically, your body produces its own opiate-like compound called endorphins. Endorphins attach to the same receptors that opiates do, the most important being the MU receptor. Endorphins and opiates both attach to these receptors, blocking the pain signals to the brain.
The opiate receptors don’t just control your perception of pain. They also affect the locus coeruleus, which the part of the brain stem responsible for respiration, blood pressure, and alertness. Opiates have a depressant effect, causing these processes to slow down.
Opiate Effects On the Female Brain
Addiction begins to happen in the midbrain. Opiates act to shut down gabaergic neurons. These are basically the parents of your brain. They hang around to make sure you aren’t having more fun than you need to. In more scientific terms, they prevent your brain from getting too much dopamine. Dopamine is the brain’s ultimate happy chemical and is strongly associated with the reward center in your brain.
When the gabaergic neurons are shut down, your brain receives high amounts of dopamine. This causes feelings of pleasure and euphoria. You may feel greater social acceptance, sociability, less concerned about problems, and more positive. Dopamine also affects the amygdala, the part of the brain responsible for fear. Here it calms you and relieves anxiety, adding to your sense of well-being.
The brain learns that taking the drug feels good, and this has an effect on the reward center. Motivation and desire to do things that feel good are part of our survival mechanism as well. However, opiates and other drugs seem to rewire these processes. The brain creates a desire to do the drug, even when the consequences are ultimately painful.
The opiate effects on the female brain and how they vary from that of males is not fully understood at this time. It is known that women have a higher risk of opiate addiction. They use faster than men, may need more of some opiates to get the same effect, and seem to become addicted quicker than men.
Regardless of your gender, a medical detox center provides a safe environment for you to detox from opiates successfully.
Long Term Opiate Effects on the Brain
Unfortunately, the long term opiate effects on the brain can be felt for months or even years after recovery. When you first begin using the drug, you are in the honeymoon period.
It feels great. It may even enhance your life temporarily, making you more active, social, or productive. However, the brain becomes accustomed to the drug and begins to compensate, which creates tolerance. This means you need more to achieve the same effects. What’s worse, gabaergic neurons eventually start working harder, trying to do what they were intended to do.
When you stop the drug, these neurons go into overdrive, and all those effects dissipate. Now you have constipation, anxiety, depression, and in many cases, more pain than you had initially. Addiction to opiates can create havoc in your life. Luckily, an opiate addiction treatment program can help you manage these long term effects and regain control of your life.
Leaving Opiate Addiction Behind
Yes, there are long term opiate effects on the female brain. However, these do improve over time, especially with a proper recovery program. We offer insurance verification, and some medications and techniques can help you overcome and repair the damage, both physical and psychological. Contact Aspen Ridge Recovery at 866.977.8625 today, and begin your road to recovery.