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Does Long-Term Opioid Abuse Cause Depression?

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Opioids are highly addictive narcotic medications that work in the brain to help relieve moderate to severe pain issues. These substances bind to the opioid receptors in the brain and depress the central nervous system. Opioids tell your body that you are not really in pain, and when taken, they produce a sense of calm and relaxation. At high doses, these drugs produce an intense euphoric feeling. Does Long-Term Opioid Abuse Cause Depression?

What About Opioids and Depression?

We know without a doubt that there is a strong connection between mental health issues and addiction. Unfortunately, Dual-Diagnosis or those with mental health disorders and addiction issues continue to be a problem in this country. In particular, depression and opioid abuse/addiction. Opioids do cause a short-term improvement in a person’s mood. When an individual takes an opioid, it increases dopamine and endorphins in the brain, which leads to an improvement in mood and relieves depression. This is why many people form an addiction to opioids in the first place.

Opioid Has Helped Relieve Depression?

An opioid is prescribed to a person with pre-existing depression or anxiety following an injury or surgery. They realize that this opioid has helped relieve their depression or anxiety, so they will continue to take the medication much after their pain is gone. They develop a dependence on opioids and now realize that if they try to stop taking them, they will experience terrible withdrawal symptoms. To prevent these withdrawal symptoms from occurring, they continue down the path of opioid use until they find they are now willing to go to any length to get them despite any negative consequences it may be causing in their life. This individual has now developed a full-blown addiction to opioids.

The Link Between Long-Term Opioid Use and Depression

Long-term opioid abuse can cause several physical and psychological effects, but what are the effects of long-term opioid abuse on depression? The National Library of Medicine, “Depression Effects on Long-term Prescription Opioid Use, Abuse, and Addiction,” states that:

Depressed patients initiate opioid therapy slightly more often than non-depressed patients but are twice as likely to transition to long-term use. In studies that carefully control for confounding by indication, it has been shown that long-term opioid therapy increases the risk of incident, recurrent, and treatment-resistant depression. (NLM)

Long-term Opioid Abuse Does Increase the Risk of Depression Issues?

For example, another study showed that more than 100,000 patients who did not have a diagnosis of depression before being prescribed an opioid, about 10%, developed an issue with depression after being on opioids for longer than 30 days. The FDA “Depression Effects on Long-Term Prescription Opioid Use, Abuse and Addiction” says:

Opioids are not an effective treatment for depression and anxiety. No controlled studies showed last relief. It may provide partial relief of anxiety and insomnia but deepen avoidance and deactivation. Opioids may cause depression. Opioid therapy greater than 90 days and greater than 50 mg MED may increase the risk of depression according to retrospective cohort studies. Rapid dose increase has the highest depression risk. Also recurrent and treatment-resistant depression. Most vulnerable are low pain self-efficacy, poor social support, younger opioid onset. (FDA.GOV)

On the other hand, depression increases the risk of abuse and misuse. This is with opioids and any other substances that temporarily increase dopamine or make the individual suffering from depression feel good.

Begin Your Journey to Sobriety from Opioid Addiction

If you or someone you love is struggling with opioid addiction, our addiction specialists are available around the clock to assist you. Evoke Wellness at Miramar offers cutting-edge addiction treatment. We offer a safe environment and treat our clients with respect. We specialize in making sure our patients have the most comfortable detox process possible. You no longer have to continue to suffer out of fear. So give us a call today, and speak to one of our addiction specialists who will help you find the right path to your sobriety. All calls are free and confidential.