Explanations

The risks of opioids

Liz Blamire

14th November 2022

Numbers of people misusing prescription painkillers are rising but we do we understand the dangers?

Tramadol and co-codamol are examples of opioids that are often prescribed by doctors for the relief of pain after surgery or trauma. These drugs are highly addictive, as they increase levels of dopamine in the blood stream, which is pleasure enhancing. This can lead to people becoming reliant on them and then misusing them. Unfortunately, because these drugs are prescribed by trusted professionals, some people fail to realise how dangerous they can be.

Did you know that the street drug heroin is an opioid?

In this article - What long-term opioid use does to your body and brain - in The Conversation, we learn that the risks include:

  • Supressed breathing - which can lead to death, as was probably the case for global pop star Prince
  • Decreased gut activity - which can contribute to constipation, gut stretching and even bowel perforation, as happened to Friends actor Matthew Perry
  • Reduction in testosterone levels - which causes low sex drive in men
  • Diminished ability to experience pleasure - linked to a loss of interest in activities
  • Impaired ability to pay attention and concentrate - which can cause further problems such as accidents

Liz Blamire

Liz is a former NHS midwife, who has worked in community, birth centre and acute hospital settings. Liz is an SSAT Accredited Lead Practitioner, who has taught Health and Social Care in FE and secondary schools, where she was a successful HOD. Liz is an experienced senior examiner and author and is the current tutor2u subject lead for Health and Social Care.

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