Why Opioids Are So Dangerous

Sep 01, 2023
Why Opioids Are So Dangerous
Opioids help relieve pain, and they’re safe when used correctly. However, when people abuse them, they can be extremely dangerous. Discover more about opioid medications and how they affect your health.

You experience pain for various reasons, including injuries and after surgical procedures. Opioids are one class of medications that doctors prescribe to help patients deal with moderate to severe pain.

Although opioids are incredibly successful at relieving pain, they have many side effects and dangers when they’re not used correctly.

Opioid use disorder develops when someone becomes addicted to opioids, causing severe consequences and side effects, possibly even death.

The team at Prudent Medical Providers understands the risk involved with opioid medications. They provide drug testing and resources to assist people who are living with opioid addiction.

The team is led by three expert nurse practitioners who provide personalized care and treatment options when patients are struggling with opioid addiction.

What are opioids?

Opioids are powerful pain medications doctors use for pain relief when their patients are dealing with a significant injury, chronic pain, or postsurgical discomfort. They work by binding with opioid receptors in your brain to reduce pain and induce a feeling of euphoria.

Like many other medications, opioids are either derived from nature (the poppy plant, which produces morphine, for example), or are created from other substances, such as fentanyl.

Various types of opioid medications help significantly reduce pain. Still, they're dangerous because of how they work on your cells and brain.

The dangers of opioids

Opioids, like any other medications, are safe when used correctly. However, because of their euphoric effects on the brain, people often abuse them and get addicted to the “high” that opioids produce.

Misusing opioids can lead to various health complications, mainly when you use them in high doses. Some of the dangers of opioids include:

Slowed breathing

Opioids cause drowsiness at low doses but can slow your breathing down dramatically at higher doses. Slowed breathing can lead to low oxygenation and hypoxia, which is deadly in many cases.

If you lose consciousness and have a slowed breathing rate, you may stop breathing and not awaken, especially in the case of an overdose.


Euphoria is one of the side effects of opioids, which can lead to confusion and the inability to make good decisions. Confusion is dangerous because it may lead you to drive under the influence or engage in other hazardous activities.

Loss of consciousness

Too much opioid use can lead to a loss of consciousness, where you pass out from the drug. If it also affects your breathing, it's a dangerous combination with deadly consequences or long-term effects on your health.


People who misuse opioid medications may overdose on the drugs, leading to permanent disability or death. Signs and symptoms of an overdose include:

  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Limpness
  • Blue, cold skin
  • Choking sounds
  • Gurgling

Your breathing and heartbeat also slow down, which can be very serious. If you notice anyone with these symptoms or you've experienced them yourself, it's crucial to get help before the worst happens.

Preventing issues with opioid use

Preventing the dangers from using opioids is as simple as following your provider's instructions about taking them.

Before you start, ask your doctor about the possible side effects and what to do if you accidentally take too much of your medication.

It's best to begin with the lowest dose possible to relieve pain to ensure that your body can handle the medication. Although you may experience mild drowsiness and nausea, a small quantity is less likely to cause serious side effects.

You should also eat food before taking opioid medications to reduce the chances of nausea and vomiting related to the medicine.

If you find yourself unable to stop using opioids, contact our staff immediately to discuss how to wean yourself off the medications and to get help for addiction.

If you need drug testing or help for opioid addiction, don't hesitate to call Prudent Medical Providers today or schedule an appointment online.