Co-Occurring Opioid Use

How Opioid Use Affects Mental Health

The opioid crisis is long reaching, affecting people of all demographics. The federal government and social outreach programs continue their best to curb opioid use despite what seems to be a losing battle.

Opioid use, its abuse, and accidental death from overdose increased by four times by 2008 vs 1999. Long-term effects of opioid abuse will likely see individuals, families, and communities shattered.

The detriment to mental health is particularly hardest hit by opioid use.

This article will share the true reality of opioids and what they do to individuals and our society. And, what the government and programs are doing to curb and help those so dearly affected by the crisis.

The Mind-Shattering Fallout of Opioid Use: Prescriptions and Mental Illness in the U.S.

Our concern for mental illness became a central topic in the U.S. for several reasons — drug addiction one of them. Mental illness is a difficult phenomenon to pinpoint. Though, our understanding improves with time.

In fact, 1 out of 5 Americans will experience some form of mental illness each year. 1 in 25 will endure a severe mental illness in the same timeframe.

Causation of mental illness is often attributed to genetics, infections, defects, and as per topic… opioid use. Opioids are known to create and/or trigger mental health episodes with their users. It gives an opportunity to study the effects of drug abuse and mental illness.

How are opioids rewiring our brain, causing and exacerbating mental illness?

Chemical Imbalance

Professionals understand depression and bipolar personalities are the results of chemical imbalances. Prescription drug abuse floods chemicals to neurotransmitters creating an imbalance.

Those with lurking mental health issues seemingly “unlock” their disorders through opioid use. Permanent damage to the neurotransmitters results in long-term imbalances. This deepens the mental health problems.

Opioids mimic neurotransmission producing a euphoric effect with dopamine and serotonin hit hardest. Repeated drug use leads to neurological damage creating a dampening effect on receptors. The extreme “lows” during recovery are the body’s inability to sustain neurotransmission.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Unnerving experiences from abusive relationships, combat experience, assault, and disasters often form PTSD. PTSD causes several mental health problems from depression to chronic pain and anxiety.

Drug abuse has increased among those with PTSD. The combination creates a volatile mental instability. Drug abuse becomes the go-to method to numb feelings and pain. This leads to addiction and potential life-threatening outburst.

In fact, PTSD as a criminal defense is considered according to the study on the National Institute of Health. as a legal defense. But, pairing with possession often sends individuals through the system. This places them in an environment devoid of therapy. Once freed, they return to society with tougher problems and return to opioid use as an escape.

Performance Dysfunction

Opioid use becomes a mainline activity placing strains on relationship and careers. This creates a domino effect starting with connections and leading to workplace performance.

The crumbling relationships and performance slowly remove support. Users often turn to illegal activities to support habits. Soon, the addiction is the driving force leaving them alone or paired with other addicts.

Untreated mental illnesses progress until users become “lost” to the epidemic and disorders.

Access & Availability

Many receiving opioids have preexisting mental health issues. Our awareness and understanding of mental health have improved. This creates better reporting which naturally increases statistics.

More than 50 percent of opioid prescriptions are going to those with mental illness.

Opioids provide short-term relief from mental conditions like depression. But, fail to help long-term. Those with issues fail to act on alternative therapies because of the false positive.

A Glimmer of Hope: How the Government and Outreach Programs Intend to Curb the Epidemic

Overprescription is a definitive cause of opioid use and abuse in the United States. Doctors prescribe opioids as an empathetic outreach for those with depression and anxiety. Unfortunately, many are susceptible to the euphoric effects and find themselves hooked.

Government Intervention

The Department of Justice declared heavy fines for opioid manufacturers using deceptive advertising. In the past, many companies paid and lobbied individuals to promote opioid advocacy. This has come to an end.

Seizures of darknet distribution channels like Alpha Bay have taken place. Efforts through funding to task forces aimed at eliminating drugs such as fentanyl. Programs increasing the availability of naloxone in communities have gained attention, too.

Medical Outreach

Educational programs are underway to educate primary care doctors alternatives to opioid prescriptions. The programs intend to provide a better system to identify potential addicts. This is an attempt to avoid overprescription from medical practitioners.

The healthcare system is also doing its part to reduce prescription fraud. Major health providers are attempting to band together to combat opioid use. Their strategy is to intervene and offer alternatives if data points to problems.

Community Support

Community outreach programs are underway for adults and youth. Opioid prevention programs. These programs produce lasting effects when combating the epidemic. Rapid response for overdoses is also part of the community support. This provides training to identify and provide aid to those affected.

Similar programs to lift society’s conscious about opioid abuse include:

  • Heroin & opioid awareness week
  • Therapy and holistic healing techniques
  • Peer support systems and gatherings

Narcotics Anonymous has seen membership skyrocket in the past decade. Resources and detox programs through inpatient recovery is a common path to recovery. Whereas the use of methadone programs has become a talking point to influence addicts to undergo detox.

The Next Decade of Death: How to Help Yourself and Those in Need

STAT, an investigative journal, has a grim tale yet to unfold. A potential half a million Americans may die from opioids in the next decade.

The flood of heroin from the Middle East and overprescription are to blame. Yet, they are part of a bigger problem the U.S. continues to battle. Society, too, may have its play in the epidemic.

Regardless, you or a loved one affected by opioid use must seek help before becoming a statistic. There are several avenues for dealing with opioid addiction and recovery.

Use our platform to find methadone treatment in your area before its too late. We’ve got a wealth of information on detox, methadone, and opioid addiction. Check out our articles or contact us at (855) 976-2092 to find help in your home state.


[1] American Society of Addiction Medicine. (2016). Opioid Addiction – 2016 Facts & Figures. Retrieved from

[2] Nearly 1 in 5 Americans Suffers From Mental Illness Each Year. (n.d.). Retrieved from

[3] Berger O , et al. (n.d.). PTSD as a criminal defense: a review of case law. – PubMed – NCBI. Retrieved from

[4] Connor, V. (2017, June 27). Patients With Mental Disorders Get Half Of All Opioid Prescriptions. Retrieved from

[5] Health Care Fraud Prevention Partnership. (2017, January). Healthcare Payer Strategies to Reduce the Harm of Opioids. Retrieved from

[6] Felter, C. (2017, January 17). The U.S. Opioid Epidemic. Retrieved from

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