Both prescription and illegal drugs like heroin work with the same mechanism that is intended to reduce pain sensations by binding to opioid receptors in the brain and other organs. The drug creates a sensation of drowsiness and slows down breathing, often to a dangerous extent if opioid addiction is present where the potential for overdose is significant.
Abuse of prescription opioids can often be a consequence of prolonged pain due to injury or illness that leads to someone taking more than the prescribed dose to fight agonizing pain and possibly developing a dependence on the substance. It is principally the effect of opiate-based drugs on brain function that is the most dangerous element of addiction.
It is not unusual for someone to struggle with opioid addiction and mental illness at the same time.
A number of mental disorders can lead to addiction and conversely, opioid addiction can also lead to mental health issues in different ways:
There are certain characteristics at play that contribute to concurrent development of addiction and mental health problems, as follows:
A person’s genetic makeup can make them more or less likely to develop mental health issues or addiction problems. A predisposition for mental health disorders can facilitate a path to substance abuse just as an addictive personality can lead to mental health issues.
A strong desire to take risks or thrill-seek are personality traits often found in both addicts and sufferers of mental health disorders.
A chemical present in the brain called dopamine is affected by using substances and also certain mental health disorders. Changes in the brain from one disorder have the potential to increase the development in the other.
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