Effects & Dangers Of Smoking Opioids

Smoking opioids can lead to strong pain relief and euphoria but also an increased risk of heart problems, high blood pressure, and opioid overdose. Smoking opioids can be habit-forming, and it can be hard to quit smoking without professional help.

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Smoking opioids can lead to opioid addiction, cardiovascular problems, and other serious side effects. Your risk of an opioid overdose may also increase if you smoke opioids.

Smoking opioids is a form of illicit drug use to get high, and not an approved form of opioid use to treat chronic pain or severe pain. Smoking fentanyl, a potent synthetic opioid, likely has a higher prevalence in the United States compared to other opioids.

If you or a loved one have health problems due to smoking opioids, you may be suffering from opioid use disorder. Thankfully, professional treatment programs can give you the healthcare and support you need to quit smoking opioids.

Smoking Opioids

Smoking opioids can be done by placing crushed or whole opioid pills on foil. The foil can then be heated, leading to vapors which can be smoked and inhaled through a glass pipe. This may only be one of many methods for smoking opioids.

Smoking opioids can cause stronger side effects compared to taking opioids as prescribed. According to recent reports, smoking opioids such as fentanyl is likely more prevalent in the U.S. compared to heroin use.

Some people who smoke opioids believe smoking can be a safer alternative to injecting opioids.

However, smoking opioids is still a form of drug abuse with significant health risks.

The types of opioids that can be smoked include both illicit and prescription opioids, such as:

Risk Factors For Smoking Opioids

If you have a history of cigarette smoking, tobacco use, or mental health issues, you may be more likely to smoke opioids in the future.

Other risk factors for smoking opioids include being an adolescent or young adult, abusing methamphetamine, and having a family history of illicit substance abuse.

Side Effects Of Smoking Opioid Drugs

Smoking opioids can cause strong relaxation, happiness, and numbness.

You may also experience strong side effects of opioids, such as:

  • constipation
  • drowsiness
  • fatigue
  • breathing problems

These side effects can affect your ability to function, especially in higher doses. If you smoke opioids for a long period of time, the euphoria and analgesic (pain relief) effects you experience can decrease.

This is known as tolerance, a telltale sign of addiction.

Dangers Of Smoking Opioids

Compared to injecting opioids, smoking opioids has a lower risk of infections and diseases. However, smoking opioids is still a dangerous form of drug abuse.

Opioid Overdose

Your risk of an opioid overdose may increase if you smoke opioids.

The effects of smoking opioids on your body are stronger compared to taking opioids as directed.

Signs of an opioid overdose may include:

  • trouble breathing
  • clammy skin
  • loss of consciousness
  • weak pulse
  • gurgling noises, especially while unconscious

In 2021, there were almost 85,000 drug overdose deaths involving opioids in the United States. Almost 90 percent of these deaths involved fentanyl use, including smoking, snorting, or swallowing fentanyl.

Fentanyl overdoses are the most recent form of the opioid epidemic, a long-lasting and ongoing public health crisis in the United States.

If you see the signs of opioid overdose in a loved one, you can give them naloxone before medical help arrives. Naloxone can restore an overdose victim’s breathing and improve their survival and recovery chances.

Cardiovascular Problems

Smoking opioids can increase your risk of cardiovascular problems, similar to smoking tobacco products or e-cigarettes.

Smoking is a risk factor for blood clots, heart disease, high blood pressure, and other health conditions. These health conditions can in turn increase your risk of heart attack, stroke, and death.

Opioid Use Disorder

If you or a loved one cannot stop smoking opioids, you may be suffering from an opioid addiction, also known as a substance use disorder.

Signs of a substance use disorder may include worsening mental health, worsening physical health, and withdrawal symptoms when trying to quit.

Substance use disorder treatment programs for opioid use provide behavioral health services, methadone and buprenorphine maintenance treatment, and other effective treatment options to help you quit smoking.

To learn if our opioid addiction treatment program will work for you or your loved one, please contact us today.

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - U.S. Overdose Deaths In 2021 Increased Half as Much as in 2020 - But Are Still Up 15% https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/nchs_press_releases/2022/202205.htm
  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse - Fentanyl DrugFacts https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugfacts/fentanyl
  3. National Institute on Drug Abuse - Prescription Opioids DrugFacts https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugfacts/prescription-opioids
  4. NBC News - Once feared, illicit fentanyl is now a drug of choice for many opioid users https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/feared-illicit-fentanyl-now-drug-choice-many-opioids-users-rcna40418
  5. RTI International -Transition from injecting opioids to smoking fentanyl in San Francisco, California https://www.rti.org/publication/transition-injecting-opioids-smoking-fentanyl-san-francisco-california
  6. Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy - Examining prevalence and correlates of smoking opioids in British Columbia: opioids are more often smoked than injected https://substanceabusepolicy.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13011-021-00414-6

Written by Bedrock Recovery Center Editorial Team

Published on: August 24, 2023

© 2024 Bedrock Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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