Opioids and Constipation: How Does One Affect the Other?

Opiates cause constipation so much that the condition actually has its own name: opiate induced constipation (OIC). Just as the name implies, it’s constipation caused by the use of opiates. As a side effect, constipation is one of the most unpleasant ones surrounding opiate abuse, but it’s by no means the only side effect. For today, though, we’ll take a look at how opiates cause constipation.

Interestingly, the same mechanism that makes opiates work also cause the constipation you experience when you take them. Opioids attach to something called mu-receptors, and that’s what allows them to block pain signals. There’s another place that mu-receptors live, though: the bowel. When opiates block receptors there, constipation is the result.

Symptoms of OIC

Many people think of constipation as just the inability to go to the bathroom, and that’s definitely part of it. Unfortunately, it’s much worse than just that. You’ll experience times where you can go to the bathroom, but stools will be dry and hard, and the bowel movement will be extremely painful. There may be visual cues that you’re suffering from OIC, such as a distended abdomen or bulging in the abdomen. Pants may fit tighter, and you may have a general feeling of unwellness, discomfort, or even nausea.

Opioids have long had a reputation for causing constipation, and it’s scientifically proven that they do cause some of the worst cases of this ailment known to man. People who abuse opiates are certain to have experienced this unpleasant side effect, and it’s worthwhile to enter treatment just to end the sometimes dangerous side effects like this. Ceasing opiate use will eventually clear up OIC.

Getting Treatment

Unless you’re using opiates for a chronic pain condition or other condition, it’s possible to abstain from opiate use, but because of the severity of withdrawal, it’s not as easy as it sounds. One reason inpatient detoxes are so preferable as a means to get off opiates is because they are capable of dealing with the many health conditions caused by opioid abuse. A withdrawal from opiates can include the opposite problem: diarrhea. Medical detoxes can help with this issue, too. When you enter a detox or inpatient facility for help with opiate addiction, you take a very small step in coping with the things that opiates have done to damage your life and your body.

Opioids have a lot of devastating side effects even when used for legitimate reasons in a medical setting or hospital. For drug addicts, they get all the side effects, too, but often don’t realize that it’s the medication causing them because a doctor wasn’t the one who prescribed the opiates. In time, most users figure out that the culprit for constipation is opioids. Over the counter laxatives perform very poorly for opiate abuse. You can have constipation when you take them regularly, as prescribed, but people who abuse them get cases of constipation that can even lead to blockages, something that can in time become life threatening.

Getting Well

Whether you’ve been using opiates for a little while or a long time, you’ll find that you’re suffering from a host of symptoms both when you take them and when you don’t take them. Side effects like constipation are from use. Side effects like diarrhea are the result of trying to quit. An inpatient detox center can help you deal with both of these effects and more. Thanks to a caring staff, medical doctors there to supervise detox, and other peers who can relate to your experiences and help you cope with them, there’s a place where you can feel safe during the time you’re recovering from opiate use.

Some patients may have started using opiates for medical reasons but found themselves addicted in a short period of time. If this is the case, the answer is still the same: cessation. Inpatient detoxes and intensive outpatient programs are the best methods of helping people quit opiates. Their withdrawal symptoms are severe, and the side effects of taking them are often severe, too. The longer you go on, the more severe the side effects will be, and we all know that the major side effect, addiction, can be life altering at best and life threatening at worst.

Anyone who wants to learn more about opiates and addiction is welcome to call us at 800-737-0933. We’re always here to provide information to those who want to get help for drug and alcohol addictions. There is always help here.