From Prescription to Addiction: 7 Dangers of Opioid Abuse And How To Avoid Them

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Opioids are powerful painkillers prescribed by doctors to relieve severe pain from injuries, surgery, or chronic conditions like cancer or arthritis. However, they are also highly addictive and can lead to serious health problems, including overdose and death.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than 130 people die every day in the United States due to opioid overdose. Therefore, it is essential to understand the dangers of opioid abuse and how to avoid them.


One of the most significant dangers of opioid abuse is addiction, which is one of the top 5 on the list of different drug addictions. Opioids can create a sense of euphoria and relaxation, which can lead to dependence on the drug. Infact, opioid addiction is the most common among different drug addictions treated by Lananta Recovery.

When someone becomes addicted to opioids, they may experience withdrawal symptoms if they try to stop taking the drug. These symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, anxiety, and muscle aches, among others. To avoid addiction, it is crucial to take opioids exactly as prescribed and only for the duration recommended by a healthcare provider.


Another significant danger of opioid abuse is overdose. Opioids can slow down the respiratory system, making it difficult to breathe. If someone takes too much of an opioid, they can stop breathing altogether, leading to an overdose.

Symptoms of an overdose include pinpoint pupils, slowed breathing, and unconsciousness. To avoid an overdose, it is essential to take opioids exactly as prescribed and to never mix them with other drugs, including alcohol.


Tolerance is another danger of opioid abuse. Over time, someone taking opioids may require higher doses to achieve the same level of pain relief. This can lead to increased risk of overdose or addiction. To avoid tolerance, it is crucial to take opioids only as prescribed and to never increase the dosage without first consulting a healthcare provider.

Respiratory Depression

Opioids can cause respiratory depression, which means they can slow down breathing to the point where it becomes difficult or impossible to breathe. This can be especially dangerous for people with existing respiratory problems or who are already taking medication that can depress breathing. To avoid respiratory depression, it is crucial to take opioids only as prescribed and to never mix them with other drugs, including alcohol.


Constipation is a common side effect of opioid use. Opioids can slow down the digestive system, leading to infrequent bowel movements, abdominal pain, and bloating. To avoid constipation, it is essential to drink plenty of fluids, eat a high-fiber diet, and take a stool softener or laxative as directed by a healthcare provider.

Hormone Imbalance

Opioid use can also disrupt the endocrine system, which can lead to hormone imbalances. In men, opioid use can reduce testosterone levels, leading to low libido, erectile dysfunction, and decreased muscle mass.

In women, opioid use can disrupt menstrual cycles, leading to irregular periods or amenorrhea (absence of periods). To avoid hormone imbalances, it is crucial to take opioids only as prescribed and to never increase the dosage without first consulting a healthcare provider.

Neonatal abstinence syndrome

Neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) is a condition that can occur in newborns whose mothers used opioids during pregnancy. When a pregnant woman takes opioids, the drug can cross the placenta and reach the developing fetus, leading to physical dependence on the drug.

When the baby is born, it may experience withdrawal symptoms, including irritability, tremors, seizures, and difficulty feeding. To avoid NAS, it is essential for pregnant women to inform their healthcare provider if they are taking opioids and to follow a safe plan for discontinuing or tapering off the drug before delivery.

How to Avoid Addiction To Prescription Opioids?

Here are some tips to help you use prescription opioids safely and avoid addiction:

Only Take Opioids As Prescribed

One of the most critical things you can do to avoid addiction to prescription opioids is to take them exactly as prescribed by your healthcare provider. This means following the recommended dosage, frequency, and duration of use. Do not take more than prescribed or take the medication more frequently than recommended. Also, do not crush or break the pills, as this can release too much of the drug at once.

Never Share Your Medication

It is essential to never share your prescription opioids with others, even if they have similar symptoms or pain. Opioids can be highly addictive, and sharing your medication with others can increase their risk of addiction. Additionally, it is illegal to share prescription drugs with others.

Be Honest With Your Healthcare Provider

It is essential to be honest with your healthcare provider about your medical history, any previous drug use, and any current medications you are taking. This information will help your healthcare provider determine the safest and most effective treatment for your pain. If you have a history of substance abuse, your healthcare provider may recommend alternative pain management options.

Avoid Alcohol And Other Drugs

Alcohol and other drugs can increase the risk of addiction to prescription opioids. It is crucial to avoid alcohol and other drugs while taking opioids. Also, do not mix opioids with other medications, including over-the-counter drugs, without first consulting your healthcare provider.

In conclusion, prescription opioids can be effective in treating severe pain, but they carry a high risk of addiction. If you suspect addiction, seek help immediately. With the right treatment and support, it is possible to overcome opioid addiction and achieve long-term recovery.