The opioid crisis has been sweeping the nation for decades. When people think of the crisis, they may not think of brain injuries and how opioids can cause long-term damage not just to the body, but also to the brain.
According to the Brain Injury Association of Virginia, abuse of opioids stops oxygen from getting to the brain and increases the risks of a serious brain injury.
How fast can brain damage happen?
Brain damage can occur in just three to five minutes if the brain is without oxygen or with limited oxygen. An anoxic brain injury occurs when the brain has no oxygen at all, and a hypoxic brain injury occurs when the brain does not have enough oxygen. The longer the brain is without oxygen, the worse the injury becomes.
What are the symptoms of a brain injury?
The symptoms of a brain injury are similar no matter how the injury was caused. One of the scariest things about a brain injury is that symptoms may not show up for hours or even days after the injury. Some of the more common symptoms of brain injuries include the following:
- Loss of balance and coordination
- Concentration problems
- Hearing and vision loss
- Depression, irritability and confusion
- Short-term memory loss
- Trouble with completing basic tasks
Opioids are a powerful medical tool that can be dangerous, even when prescribed. It is important to take medications as prescribed, stay away from alcohol while taking them and avoid risky activities until their wear off. Opioids should also be prescribed responsibly by a professional who understands the implications of misuse.