Call Recovery Ranger for help today. +1-866-256-2052 Helpline Information

Why Do Opiates Cause Urinary Retention?

Mark Halsey
Chief Editor of - Cleanbreak Recovery

Mark Halsey is a licensed therapist, founder, and chief editor of Clean Break Recovery. With over a decade of addiction treatment experience, Mark deeply understands...Read more

The use of opiates, powerful painkillers derived from opium and opium-like substances, can have a wide range of effects on the body. Commonly, opiates can cause constipation, drowsiness, and confusion, but they can also cause a more serious condition known as urinary retention. In this article, we’ll examine why opiates cause urinary retention and what can be done to manage this side effect.

Why Do Opiates Cause Urinary Retention?

What are Opiates?

Opiate drugs, also known as narcotics, are derived from the opium poppy plant and include drugs like morphine, oxycodone, codeine, hydrocodone, and others. These drugs are mainly used to treat moderate to severe pain. Opiates work by binding to opioid receptors in the brain and spinal cord, which activate pathways that reduce the perception of pain.

How Opiates Affect the Urinary System

Opioids work by binding to receptors in the brain and spinal cord, which activate pathways that reduce the perception of pain. However, opioids also bind to receptors in the urinary system and can interfere with normal bladder and sphincter control. This can lead to a decrease in the ability for the bladder to empty, which is known as urinary retention.

Risk Factors for Urinary Retention

There are certain factors that may increase the risk of urinary retention caused by opiate use. These include: age, gender, pre-existing medical conditions, other medications being taken, and the type and dose of opiate being taken. Older individuals, males, and those with pre-existing medical conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure are more likely to experience urinary retention when taking opiates.

Why Do Opiates Cause Urinary Retention?

Opiate drugs, such as morphine, oxycodone, codeine, and hydrocodone, work by binding to opioid receptors in the brain and spinal cord. These drugs also bind to receptors in the urinary system, which can interfere with normal bladder and sphincter control. This can lead to a decrease in the ability for the bladder to empty, which is known as urinary retention.

The Role of Dopamine

The release of dopamine is one of the primary mechanisms by which opiates cause urinary retention. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate the release of urine from the bladder. When opiates bind to opioid receptors in the brain, the release of dopamine is inhibited, which can lead to urinary retention.

The Role of Acetylcholine

Acetylcholine is another neurotransmitter that plays a role in opiate-induced urinary retention. Acetylcholine is involved in the contraction of muscles in the bladder and urethra, which helps control urination. Opiates can inhibit the release of acetylcholine, which can lead to urinary retention.

Side Effects of Urinary Retention

The main symptom of urinary retention is difficulty passing urine, or an inability to pass urine at all. Other symptoms can include a feeling of incomplete emptying of the bladder, abdominal pain, frequent urges to urinate, and an increased risk of urinary tract infections.

Chronic Urinary Retention

Chronic urinary retention is a long-term condition in which a person is unable to completely empty their bladder, even after attempting to urinate. Chronic urinary retention can lead to complications, such as bladder stones, and can increase the risk of developing a urinary tract infection.

Treatment of Urinary Retention

Treatment for urinary retention caused by opiate use typically involves discontinuing the medication and switching to a non-opioid pain medication. In some cases, medications such as alpha-blockers and anticholinergics may be used to help relax the bladder and improve urine flow. In more severe cases, a catheter may be used to help empty the bladder.

Top 6 Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is Urinary Retention?

Answer: Urinary retention is a condition in which a person is unable to completely empty their bladder. It can be caused by an obstruction in the urinary tract, an infection, or a neurological problem. In some cases, it can also be caused by the use of certain medications, such as opiates. Symptoms of urinary retention include difficulty starting to urinate, a weak or intermittent stream of urine, and the feeling of not being able to completely empty the bladder.

2. How Do Opiates Cause Urinary Retention?

Answer: Opiates are a type of medication that bind to opioid receptors in the brain, which can alter nerve signals and cause the muscles in the bladder to relax. As a result, the bladder is not able to completely empty and the person experiences urinary retention. In addition, opiates can also cause a decrease in the amount of urine produced by the body, further contributing to urinary retention.

3. What Are the Risks of Urinary Retention?

Answer: The risks of urinary retention include an increased risk of urinary tract infections, bladder stones, and bladder damage. In addition, urinary retention can also lead to further complications such as kidney failure, sepsis, and even death.

4. Are There Treatments for Urinary Retention?

Answer: Yes, there are treatments for urinary retention. Depending on the underlying cause, treatments may include medications to reduce the amount of urine produced by the body, or medications to relax the bladder muscles. In addition, some people may also need to use a catheter to help empty their bladder.

5. How Can Opiate Use Be Prevented?

Answer: The best way to prevent opiate use and the associated risks of urinary retention is to avoid opiate use altogether. If opiate use is necessary, it is important to take the medication as prescribed and to talk to a health care provider if any side effects are experienced. Additionally, it is important to understand the risks of taking opiates and to make sure that any potential benefits outweigh those risks.

6. How Can Urinary Retention Be Prevented?

Answer: The best way to prevent urinary retention is to avoid medications that may cause the condition, such as opiates. Additionally, it is important to drink plenty of fluids and to practice good hygiene to reduce the risk of urinary tract infections. If a person is taking medications that may cause urinary retention, it is important to follow their doctor’s instructions and to talk to a healthcare provider if any side effects are experienced.

Urinary Retention | Fairbanks Urology

The effects of opiates on the body are far-reaching and can lead to many unpleasant side effects, such as urinary retention. Opiates can cause the muscles in the bladder to relax, which can lead to difficulty urinating or an inability to completely empty the bladder. It is important to talk to your doctor if you are experiencing urinary retention due to opiate use as it can be a sign of a more serious underlying medical condition. While opiates may be helpful for managing pain, it is important to be aware of the potential side effects and to work with your doctor to ensure your safety.

Mark Halsey is a licensed therapist, founder, and chief editor of Clean Break Recovery. With over a decade of addiction treatment experience, Mark deeply understands the complex needs of those struggling with addiction and utilizes a comprehensive and holistic approach to address them. He is well-versed in traditional and innovative therapies, including cognitive-behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, and mindfulness-based interventions.

More Posts

Leave a Comment