Opiates, whether in prescription pill form or in the form of heroin, can make you feel nauseous when you take them and nauseous when you stop them after forming a physical dependence. The drugs provoke a powerful response by the central nervous system, triggering and altering brain chemistry that can result in gastrointestinal distress. To better understand why do opiates make you sick it is helpful to know how these drugs impact the body.
Why Do Opiates Make You Sick?
Individuals who are prescribed painkiller, or synthetic opioids, to help manage pain following surgery or an injury may discover that the medication is hard on the gut. While each person will respond differently to these various drugs, it is not uncommon to experience nausea and vomiting, especially in the first few days of use. Later, constipation can become a lingering problem while on these drugs, another sign of gastrointestinal distress.
The drugs may trigger the nausea and vomiting response due to activating the chemoreceptor trigger zone in the brain. By taking opiates this can off neurotransmitters that send the message to the medullary vomiting center in the brain that responds by initiating a vomiting reflex. The body is being told to eliminate the substance.
With illicit use of heroin a similar response can occur in some users. The body reflexively attempts to purge the chemicals and toxins related to heroin by inducing a vomiting response. This can culminate with repeated vomiting as the body tries to eliminate the substance from the body. Opiates may also trigger vertigo, or a sense of spinning, that can initiate a vomiting response to occur.
Signs of Opiate Addiction
When some develops an opiate addiction or dependency there will be some general changes in behaviors as well as some physical symptoms. These warning signs of opiate addiction include:
- Slowed thoughts, speech, and movements
- Drowsiness, nodding off
- Constricted pupils
- Doctor shopping for prescription opiates
- Engaging in high risk options to obtain opiates, such as buying them online or buying heroin from an unknown source
- Driving while high
- Ignoring responsibilities or obligations
- Declining work or school performance
- Memory impairment
- Problem concentrating
- Suicidal ideation
- Loss of interest in once enjoyed activities
- Drug cravings
- Withdrawal symptoms when drug is absent
Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms
When someone who has become addicted to opiates attempts to quit they will begin to experience highly unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. This is because the body’s central nervous system had adjusted over time to expect the opiate, so when it is not forthcoming the body struggles to adjust, initiating the withdrawal symptoms. When asking why do opiates make you sick, this is explained by the body’s reaction to the drug suddenly being withheld. These symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain
- Muscle aches
- Tearing eyes, runny nose
- Excessive yawning
- Fever, chills
To safely manage opiate detox and withdrawal, a tapering schedule may be set up to incrementally wean an individual off of the drug. Detox is best obtained in a medically monitored setting where vital signs can be watched and medications can be administered to ease withdrawal symptoms.
Opiate detox may take anywhere from 5 days to two weeks depending on the history of the addiction and the level of opiate use. Other factors that impact detox severity involve whether the individual also has a co-occurring mental health disorder, has health problems, or is older.
Treatment for Opiate Abuse or Addiction
Once the detoxification has been completed the individual will begin receiving treatment for the addiction itself. This is a necessary component of recovery, as without making fundamental changes in thoughts, behaviors, coping skills, and stress management, the reflexive behaviors to use will simply reemerge.
Replacement drugs, such as methadone, Suboxone, or buprenorphine, can be helpful in sustaining recovery and minimizing the risk of relapse. These drugs work in various ways to diminish drug cravings, which is the major culprit leading to relapse. However, the opioid replacement drugs must be monitored closely, as they, too, can be abused.
With an integrated treatment approach using psychotherapy, group therapy, 12-step or similar programming, medication management, and adjunctive therapies, addiction to opiates can be managed, allowing for a fulfilling life in recovery.
Capo By the Sea Provides Comprehensive Opiate Recovery Treatment
Capo By the Sea offers the enticing lure of a seaside community combined with the most relevant and effective treatment modalities for treating an opiate addiction. Located in South Orange County, California, Capo By the Sea steps up addiction treatment by augmenting the effects of its evidence-based therapies with adjunctive and holistic therapies. Together this integrated approach provides the highest degree of treatment interventions available. For answers to your questions, such as “Why do opiates make you sick?” and for more details about our program, please contact Capo By the Sea today at 888-529-2114.