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The Dangers of Opioids as Mood Stabilizers

John Templeton Jr. - August 23, 2021

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It’s common for people struggling with mental health conditions like bipolar disorder and depression to be prescribed a mood stabilizer. Mood stabilizers are a type of medication that help you limit the impact of uncomfortable mood swings from the highs of mania to hypomania to the low points of depression. While mood stabilizers can provide relief for certain mental health conditions, people continue to turn to opioids as a way to self medicate and cope with mood disorders.

Even though opioids can provide short term relief to your mental health, they come at a high cost and pose severe risks to your long-term well being. Join us as we take a detailed look into the dangers of using opioids to stabilize your mood and how to find the right treatment for your mental health condition.

How Do Opioids Work as Mood Stabilizers?

To get a better understanding of how dangerous it is to use opioids to treat your mood, we need to look at how these drugs work. When you take an opioid, the drug activates the opioid receptors in your nerve cells. Once the drug binds to the receptors in your brain, there are two main effects. Since the opioids have blocked the nerve cells, there is a reduction in the amount of pain your body can experience. However, when an opioid binds to a receptor in your brain, there is a rush of dopamine, a chemical strongly linked to feelings of pleasure that acts as your body’s natural reward system.

That rush of dopamine can boost your mood and give you a strong feeling of euphoria. The problem with using opioids to stabilize your mood is that your brain gets used to the high levels of dopamine. Once that level starts to go down, your mood can crash, causing any symptoms of your mental health condition to become more intense. Unfortunately, it’s common for anyone in this situation to take more opioids as a way to cope with these symptoms. That’s part of the reason why there’s a real risk of finding yourself caught in a cycle of opioid abuse.

The Dangers of Opioid Abuse

1. Increased Risk of an Overdose

When you’re using opioids to stabilize your mood, you develop an increased tolerance to the drug over time. That means it will take more of the drug to get the same boost to your mood that helps offset the symptoms of your mental health condition. As these doses become larger, you run the risk of overloading your system, resulting in an overdose. Part of what makes an opioid overdose so dangerous is how it can slow your breathing until it stops.

An opioid overdose also has the potential to cause coma, fluid buildup in your lungs and brain damage. Once someone overdoses on opioids, it is often fatal unless there is immediate care provided by medical professionals.

2. Experiencing Suicidal Ideation

Using opioids to treat your mental health condition can unfortunately lead to experiencing suicidal ideation. Suicidal ideation is when you think about, feel or take actions towards ending your own life. Since opioid abuse often causes the symptoms of your mental health condition to feel more intense, you might develop a strong sense of hopelessness and the idea that you aren’t in control of your own actions.

In these situations, people feel trapped and think the only way out of the pain they’re experiencing is to take their own life. It’s important to know that suicide is never the answer. Professional dual diagnosis treatment centers like Footprints Beachside Recovery can treat your mental health conditions and opioid abuse at the same time.

3. Developing Dangerous Behavioral Changes

After prolonged opioid abuse, your brain can stop producing some of the natural chemicals and hormones. This can actually cause you to lose the ability to cope with pain naturally, since your body relies on the opioid to handle it. All of this plays into the behavioral changes that long-term opioid abuse creates. Your mind and body can become so desperate for opioids, that you start engaging in more risky behavior to fulfill the craving.

For example, you might start selling off prized possessions to be able to buy more opioids or try and figure out how to get another prescription. The good news is that while the causes behind these behavioral changes can last for a long period of time, they are reversible with the right treatment.

Discover Luxury Opioid Addiction Treatment in Florida

At Footprints Beachside Recovery, we know how hard it can be to struggle with an opioid addiction and a mental health condition. With over 10 years of experience serving local Florida communities, our personalized treatment program can help you reclaim your life from addiction. Our expert staff and comforting environment are here to support your journey towards lasting recovery. Contact our admissions team today to learn more about the programs we offer.

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