Can Opiates Be Used to Treat Anxiety?
Opiates are made from a substance that is derived from the opium poppy plant. Although all opiate medications are generally similar, they may vary in their structure and their effects on the body. Opiates are narcotic drugs that work by binding to the opioid receptors in the brain. This depresses the central nervous system and is used to relieve pain. Opiates come in different forms such as pills or injectable and can either be a prescription drug or an illegal street drug.
Opiates Used for Treating Anxiety
Many people have wondered if opiates can be used to treat different anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, panic disorders, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or social anxiety. Opiates can lessen anxiety, but for only a very short period then the anxiety will return. It is believed that opiates can lessen anxiety in someone because of the effects of the drug.
Opiates slow a person’s heart rate and give an overall sense of euphoria, temporarily easing anxiety, however, this is not a viable approach to treating anxiety and will lead to addiction to the substance. Research shows that people who have anxiety disorders are more likely to misuse opiates.
Opiates should also not be used to treat anxiety because they are very addictive and once you stop taking the opiates, the anxiety will return and can even be worse than before. One reason is due to opiate withdrawal anxiety. Withdrawal symptoms are usually the opposite of the drug’s active effects and opiate withdrawal anxiety is extremely common. It is possible to develop a physical dependency and experience withdrawal to opiates even if you are not misusing them.
Opiates are rarely ever prescribed to treat anxiety. Physicians are more likely to prescribe opiates to acute pain treatment. Most doctors would not intentionally prescribe opiates for anxiety. This reason is considered an off label use. In fact, due to the current opiate crisis, doctors are reluctant to prescribe opiates at all.
Side Effects from Opiate Use
Prolonged opiate used will come with a long list of side effects. This biggest one is dependence and addiction to the substance that can turn a person’s life upside down. Opiate addiction is a serious health issue and can even lead to overdose and death. Other long-term effects of opiate abuse include:
- Respiratory depression
- Brain damage and loss of cognitive abilities
- Gastrointestinal issues
- A weakened immune system
- Blood Infections
Once an addiction to opiates occurs, the best and safest way to get off of the drugs and get your anxiety under control is first with medical detox followed by rehabilitation to treat the opiate addiction and a combination of counseling and prescribed medication that is meant to treat anxiety disorders. Medical detox involves ridding your body of the drugs with the assistance of medical professionals to make the process less painful for you.
Treatment for Opiate Dependence
Here at Evoke Massachusetts, we offer medical detox. Once that is completed we also provide top an of the line rehab facility and staff to help you get your life back on track where we provide counseling and therapy to not only treat your addiction but to also treat your anxiety and get it under control. Getting the help you need isn’t always easy, but it is worth it. Let us help you along the way.