844-LifeChange (543-3242)
GET HELP. CALL OUR ADDICTION HELPLINE 844-LifeChange (543-3242)

Dangers of Untreated Opioid Misuse

By Dr. Karl Benzio MD

Page Overview

Opioid misuse, or the continued overuse and abuse of prescription painkillers, is dangerous, but millions of addicts continue using despite the negative impacts and harm. When we look at the effects of opioid misuse, we see ripples throughout the person’s entire life. You might think stopping the opioids is hard, but not stopping is actually harder on you, not to mention much more costly and dangerous.

Opioid misuse leads to a range of ill effects, including physical health ailments, emotional and psychological struggles, financial and legal trouble, relationship stress, and spiritual harm, disconnection, confusion, and despair. Of course, you do not choose to become addicted or to have your life ruined by these medications, but without specific intentionality and the right kind of help, the problem only spirals downward. Oftentimes, knowing the dangers opens the individual’s and families’ eyes to recognize their need for help, while sometimes; this knowledge can help prevent someone from misusing and becoming addicted to opioids in the first place.

Physical Effects of Opioid Misuse

The physical impacts of opioid misuse are often the first signs a person shows, but these warning signs can often be blamed on other causes as well. Opiate abuse causes sedation and drowsiness, constricted pupils, slowed breathing, constipation, and loss of consciousness. Over time, opioid abuse continues to wear away at the body, causing more significant cognitive, cardiovascular, and respiratory concerns.

As you continue to use, or especially overuse, opioids, you will develop a tolerance for the medications, meaning you will require more pills to feel the same effect. The meds will no longer numb pain as well for you, leading to worsening pain syndrome. As you overuse prescription painkillers over time, you will become physically dependent on the pills and experience withdrawal symptoms if you stop using or go awhile between pills.

In order to continue feeling a high, or for a better high, you may be tempted to switch to heroin, another drug in the opioid family, or to crush the painkillers and snort or inject them intravenously. This leads to another set of acute health risks as the danger of choking, pneumonia, or death via overdose becomes higher because the drugs produce more rapid and powerful effects when snorted or injected. Injecting opioids can also cause infections at the injection site (cellulitis or an abscess), infections in the blood (sepsis), and infections to the valves inside the heart (endocarditis) because bacteria are introduced into the bloodstream. If not treated quickly, these can be fatal.

Addiction Causes Psychological Problems

Untreated opioid misuse also causes some pretty serious psychological issues. Prescription drug abuse increases your risk for certain mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, anger, impulsiveness, hallucinations, and delusions. You will generally experience an emotional instability, and feel as though your life is slipping away. You will lose confidence, experiencing decreased self-esteem and motivation and become indecisive.

Addiction has a way of taking the top spot in our hearts, minds, and lives, and as it does so you begin believing the lies of addiction rather than God’s truth. All the lies and un-confessed sin impair your walk and your submission to God, and you will find yourself using your own instruction manual instead of God’s B.I.B.L.E. – Best Instruction Book for Living Everyday. The path of addiction that lies ahead is full of destruction, disappointment, and despair.Dr. Karl Benzio MD
On top of that, opioid misuse interferes with your brain’s ability to process information, causing deficits in cognitive ability and leading to memory issues, confusion, and an overall dulling of the mind. As a prescription drug addict, you will have trouble concentrating and will feel distracted and disorganized. These cognitive deficits blended with the emotional and reality distortions impair your decision-making and thus, quickly spill into the all areas of your life. Feeling overwhelmed, out of control and hopeless brings a constant state of despair and sadly, you think your only option is another opioid pain pill to dull the psychological pain.

Behavioral and Relational Issues Caused by Prescription Drug Abuse

Because of your addiction to opioids, the opioids, not you, now control your life as your mind, body, and actions become manipulated by your desire and need for more drugs to escape or numb your psychological pain and spiritual disconnection and powerlessness. You will become increasingly secretive as you lie, manipulate, and make lame excuses to get what you want or to hide your addiction. You will struggle with self-control and self-discipline problems while impaired poor decision-making becomes your norm. As a result you are less reliable, less trustworthy, and have significant problems with openness, intimacy and vulnerability. This strains and stresses your relationships with family, friends, and employers, as you push away and hide from those close to you and they can’t trust your words and actions. Loved ones, the ones most interested in helping you, either pull away or are afraid of the drama surrounding your addiction, so dysfunction and more pain will permeate your relationships.

Blending your loss of self-control and self-discipline with your need for quick fixes and inability to delay gratification, legal and financial issues are almost guaranteed. Prescription opioids cost money, and you will exhaust your own money and then cash you borrow or steal from others to finance your spiraling addiction. Losing your job because you are nonproductive and unreliable only adds to an already dire situation.

Legal trouble comes because of your poor decision-making skills, and you may get in trouble with the law for things like driving while under the influence, stealing, domestic violence, disorderly conduct, or possession and other drug related charges.

Spiritual Dangers of Untreated Opioid Misuse

Finally, the most serious dangers of untreated opioid addiction are the spiritual consequences. As you become more connected to opioids, you become disconnected from God. You no longer have the Holy Spirit on the throne of your heart, but rather you promoted opioids to the throne to be the master and idol you serve. You lose the power, peace, and influence the Holy Spirit brings in these desperate times.

Addiction has a way of taking the top spot in our hearts, minds, and lives, and as it does so you begin believing the lies of addiction rather than God’s truth. All the lies and un-confessed sin impair your walk and your submission to God, and you will find yourself using your own instruction manual instead of God’s B.I.B.L.E. – Best Instruction Book for Living Everyday. The path of addiction that lies ahead is full of destruction, disappointment, and despair.

Rather than continue down the wrong path, find help in the form of Christian opioid rehab which will help you achieve true sobriety and lasting transformation. Yes, it is a challenge to recover from opioid addiction, but treatment is the only option which will allow you to enjoy real peace and hope for the future. And remember, continuing in your addiction is even more painful and costly than starting the difficult but life-giving path to sobriety, freedom, joy, and peace.