Opioids, both prescription and illegal, profoundly affect the body, brain, and overall health. Their usage has life-altering consequences for millions of people.

Keep reading to answer “How do opioids affect the body?” and discover how addiction treatment can help!

We are your #1 destination for personalized addiction help, so don’t wait; let us get started helping you today. 

How Do Opioids Affect the Body?

Opioids impact the brain by binding to specific receptors in the brain and other central nervous system (CNS) areas. These receptors, called mu-opioid receptors, regulate pain, reward, and addictive behaviors.

When opioids bind to these receptors, they reduce pain perception and create a sense of euphoria or well-being.

This makes them effective pain relievers but also highly addictive.

Prolonged opioid use can cause tolerance, dependence, and addiction. Tolerance means more of the drug is needed for the same effect.

Dependence involves withdrawal symptoms when use is lowered or stopped.

Addiction is a chronic disorder marked by drug-seeking behavior despite potential harm.

What Health Conditions Are Associated with Opioid Use?

Long-term opioid use can have significant, sometimes irreversible, effects on physical health.

Some of the most common health issues associated with opioid use include:

Respiratory Depression

Opioids can slow down breathing, resulting in low oxygen levels in the blood.

This can cause damage to vital organs, including the brain, and may even lead to death in severe cases.


Opioid-induced constipation is a common side effect of opioid use, as these drugs slow down the movement of the gastrointestinal tract.

Hormonal Imbalances

Long-term opioid use can interfere with hormone production, leading to low testosterone levels in men and menstrual irregularities in women.

Weakened Immune System

Opioids may suppress the immune system, making individuals more susceptible to infections.


Chronic opioid use has been linked to decreased bone density, increasing the risk of develping osteoporosis and fractures.

What Mental Health Conditions Are Associated with Opioid Use?

Besides the physical health consequences, opioid use can significantly impact mental health.

Some common mental health conditions associated with opioid use include:


Opioid use has been linked to an increased risk of developing depression, as these drugs can disrupt the balance of neurotransmitters that regulate mood.


Individuals who use opioids may experience heightened anxiety, particularly during withdrawal periods.

Sleep Disturbances

Opioid use can disrupt sleep patterns, leading to insomnia or other sleep disorders.

Cognitive Impairment

Long-term opioid use can cause memory problems, difficulty concentrating, and other cognitive impairments.

How Do Mortality Rates Reflect the Opioid Epidemic?

The opioid crisis caused a significant increase in drug overdose deaths. Opioid use contributed to 70.6 percent of all drug overdose deaths in 2019.

Fentanyl, 50-100 times more potent than morphine, has been a major contributor and is often added to other drugs without users realizing the danger.

What Are Addiction Treatment Options?

Overcoming addiction is possible with the right support and treatment.

The goal is lasting recovery. Find a treatment plan that works best for you and seek support from family, friends, or other recovery community members.

Some of the most effective treatment options for opioid use disorder include:

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

MAT involves using medications, such as methadone, buprenorphine, or naltrexone, in combination with behavioral therapy and counseling.

These medications make it easier for individuals to focus on their recovery by reducing cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and other forms of behavioral therapy can help individuals discover how to manage cravings, cope with triggers, and address underlying emotional issues contributing to the addiction.

Family Therapy

Family therapy can help families discover how to respond to the individual’s addiction positively and be supportive, helping them develop healthier communication skills and boundaries. 

Group Therapy

Group therapy allows clients to connect with peers on the same recovery journey, providing support, understanding, and encouragement. 

Support Groups

Support groups provide a safe environment where clients can share stories and learn from the experiences of others.

Inpatient or Residential Treatment

Inpatient or residential treatment is an intensive form of treatment that involves staying in a rehab center for an extended period to focus on recovery.

During this time, individuals will receive 24-hour care and support while they work through their addiction.

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient treatment allows clients to continue living at home while attending scheduled therapy sessions.

This option is often best for those with mild-to-moderate addiction who can benefit from structured support and counseling.

Sober Living Homes

Sober living homes provide supportive housing for those in recovery.

They provide a safe and sober environment where individuals can practice the skills they have learned while in treatment to help them maintain sobriety.

Find Treatment for Opioid Addiction Near You

At My Recovery Source, we understand the importance of finding the right treatment for opioid addiction.

We offer a full spectrum of evidence-based care tailored to each individual’s unique needs to help them achieve lasting recovery.

Find professional staff is dedicated to helping individuals develop the skills to manage their drug addiction and live a fulfilling life.

Contact us today to learn more about opioid treatment services near you.

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