As temperatures drop and the winter months approach, people suffering from chronic pain may find their symptoms exacerbated. For many, the discomfort caused by arthritis, fibromyalgia, and back pain can be unbearable. As a result, they may turn to opioids for relief. However, opioid use during winter can be more dangerous.
Once you understand the dangers of using opioids during the winter, you can be more mindful of your use and reach out to a medical professional if you notice adverse effects. If you have become dependent on your opioid medication, contact Promises Brazos Valley at 979.426.0086 to discuss our drug detox options.
The Top Risk of Opioid Use During Winter: Overdose
Opioid use during winter can present several dangers that may not be as substantial during other times. While it is necessary to exercise caution year-round when using opioids, you need to be especially vigilant in the colder months. During the winter months, the risk of opioid overdose is higher than at other times of the year. This is due to several factors:
- Blood vessel constriction – Cold weather can constrict blood vessels, causing the body to absorb opioids more slowly. As a result, a person may take a higher dose of the drug to achieve the same level of pain relief, possibly leading to an overdose.
- Increased stress levels – Blustery weather, increased traffic, and holiday obligations can make you want to hibernate until spring. Many people feel more stressed this time of year, making them more likely to self-medicate with opioids to relax their nerves. Combined with celebratory alcoholic beverages often found at holiday parties and events, a person will have a greater chance of overdosing.
- Worsened mental health – Darker days can make some people feel more blue and worsen depression. And if there is family tension or the loss of a loved one, the holidays may be a time of sadness, loneliness, or emotional pain. Without the proper support and treatment, a person may use opioids as a coping mechanism and potentially overdose.
You can help reduce your risk of overdosing on opioids during winter by using your prescription only as your provider advises. If you have developed a dependence on your medication and find it difficult to abstain from taking it more frequently or in larger doses than prescribed, it is time to reach out for professional help.
Other Dangers of Using Opioids during Winter
Winter weather also introduces other conditions that can make opioid use more risky.
Increased Chances of Respiratory Depression
Opioids can cause respiratory depression, slowing your breathing rate to dangerously low levels. In addition, cold weather can lead to respiratory depression, particularly for people who already experience breathing difficulties. For example, someone with asthma may notice their symptoms worsening during cold weather. Taking opioids while experiencing respiratory issues can be especially dangerous, and those with breathing problems should be cautious. If you have asthma or another breathing condition, mention this to your provider if they prescribe opioids for pain management.
Increased Risk of Hypothermia
Opioids can lower your body temperature, which can be especially concerning during the winter months when outside temperatures are plummeting. If you take opioids and struggle with regulating your body temperature, you may be at increased risk of hypothermia. You should be especially cautious if you take opioids and spend lots of time outdoors in the cold weather, such as for work or enjoying outdoor winter sports and activities.
End Opioid Dependence with Drug Detox at Promises Brazos Valley
While opioids may provide the necessary relief for chronic pain, their use during winter can be hazardous. Talk to your provider about your concerns about opioid use during winter, and reach out to Promises Brazos Valley at 979.426.0086 if you have developed an addiction to your prescription.