Lack of Pain Sensation
Addiction is a horrible disease that affects millions of people all over the world. Despite the best intentions of the individuals concerned, addiction often results from the escalation of recreational consumption of harmful substances.
However, there is another reason people take drugs. For many, they provide a way to temporarily escape the pain inflicting their bodies. For such people, drugs aren’t a means to pleasure; instead, they are a way to cope and experience life with a degree of normality. This is especially true in the case of opioid users.
How Drugs Affect Our Ability to feel Pain
Nociception is the body’s ability to perceive pain and is present in all animals. When a person suffers tissue damage, pain receptors send electrical signals up the nerve cells. These electrical signals reach the spinal cord, which finally passes them onto the brain -all within just a second.
Some prescription drugs limit the brain’s ability to perceive pain by binding to the opiate receptors in the brain. This causes a relaxing effect, which provides pain relief. When taken in high quantities, a feeling of being ‘high’ is prevalent. Similar effects can be achieved with many illicit depressant drugs, including heroin, codeine and fentanyl, amongst others.
Drug addiction occurs over time and takes hold quicker with some substances than others. Users find themselves gradually consuming a higher dose and at greater frequency. After some time, they cannot cope without taking their drug of choice.
One major symptom of addiction is the loss of pain sensation – particularly common with opioids, heroin, and amphetamine addiction. This is perceived as a loss of feeling in the extremities, a tingling sensation, or general numbness. Consumers of amphetamines have reported a feeling of separation from their bodies. In this case, any pain was only vaguely perceptible and felt alien, as if originating from someone else’s body.
Understanding Loss of Pain Sensation in Addicts
An inability to feel pain is incredibly dangerous, as pain is a natural warning signal of the body. Pain alerts us, enabling our avoidance of dangers in our immediate surroundings. Smaller pains (like a minor ‘nick’) alert us to the possibility of a more severe injury, such as a deep cut.In addicts, the loss of pain sensation can lead to an accumulation of injuries. This can range from less serious bruises to more severe cuts and nerve damage.
Another consequence is that with a limited ability to feel pain, addicts are less likely to seek medical attention. This leads to more complicated injuries over time -and in extreme circumstances, even death.
It’s important to understand that the feelings of invulnerability rendered by drugs and alcohol aren’t real. Consequently, addicts put themselves at great risk by carrying on in this way. If you or someone close to you is exhibiting this symptom of addiction, it’s best to seek professional medical help immediately.
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