Being some of the most abused drugs in many parts of the world, opioids have attracted a lot of interest more about their very nature, their addiction potential and, even, their effects. Opioids are chemical substances that create morphine-like reactions in one’s body. They come in three categories, including full synthetic, natural and semi-synthetic. Fully synthetic opioids include Propoxyphene, Methadone, Pethidine and Fentanyl. Semi-synthetic opiates include heroin, Oxycodone, Hydrocodone and Hydromorphone. Natural opiates include oripavine, thebaine, codeine and morphine.

Opioids act by binding themselves to particular opioids receptors in one’s central nervous system, as well as other tissues. Opioids are derivatives of opium, a substance that is collected from the seeds of opium poppies. For the synthetic and semi-synthetic opioids, they are made to mimic natural endorphins. These are mostly made by modifying opium’s chemical structure.

What Are Opioids?

Opioids medications are used, in most cases, in treating chronic pain which is moderate to severe. There are other, less potent forms that are used in treating conditions, such as diarrhea or as cough suppressants. Opioids come in a wide range of forms including suppositories, injectable, patches, capsules, and tablets. By attaching themselves to the opiates receptors in the brain, spinal cord and the gastrointestinal tract, they invariably alter the perception of the body to pain. The brain has nerve cells which are responsible for production natural feel-good chemicals and painkillers known as endorphins. The introduction of the opioids brings about artificial endorphins that, more or less, mimic the natural ones. This is how the opioids relieve pain.

Opioids are also known to produce euphoric effects. In fact, many people use and abuse opioids in order to have this feeling. This could actually be one of the factors to which opioids addiction is attributed. Quite a large number of people are said to be using opioids for recreational purposes and not for the medical reasons.

Many people are ignorant to the dangers posed by the consumption of opioids. Being central nervous system depressants, opioids may slow down or impair numerous normal functions of the body including coordination and breathing. This would be quite dangerous, more so when the drugs are used by people with pre-existing respiratory system disorders, or when they are combined with other drugs or alcohol. Given their ability to produce chemical tolerance in the body, it is very possible for an individual to overdose on the drugs as he or she tries to recapture the fleeting moments of euphoria that the drugs initially used to bring about. Some of the opioids overdose symptoms include:

  • Coma
  • Death
  • Skin with bluish tone
  • Depressed or slow breathing

Opioids should never be used by pregnant women, since they run a higher risk of premature births or, even, giving birth to children who are addicted to the drugs and, therefore, undergo withdrawal similar to that of adults. Some of the opioids addiction withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Cravings
  • Cramping
  • Muscle aches
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Sleeping disorders
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Anxiety and edginess