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What Are Opiates?


An opiate is a narcotic painkiller (analgesic) that contains synthetic or natural opium, which is derived from the seed pod of certain poppy plants. Opiates are powerful drugs and they have great painkilling properties.  They are very effective in the management of chronic pain. They are widely prescribed by doctors and considered essential for their medicinal properties. While opiates are commonly used to control pain, they also have a dark history, and this is because they are highly addictive. Long-term abuse of opiates leads to dependency and this can have serious consequences and can even lead to death.

Opiates affect the opiate receptors in the human brain that are important for the body’s ability to manage pain. After an opiate is attached to the receptors in the brain the body secretes more endorphins, which are natural pain-relieving chemicals. Opiates also are depressants and they can act on the central nervous system, and slow down the body’s response time which leads to a feeling of euphoria. Opiates also result in a slowing of the cognitive process and those taking the drug often have problems communicating. People abusing opiates are often drowsy, with their eyelids half-open and often fall asleep. The negative symptoms of opiates include breathing problems, vomiting, insomnia, blurred vision, anxiety and sexual problems.

Most Commonly Abused Opiate

Many associate addiction with drugs such as Heroin but this is not the case.  Over-the-counter brands such as Oxycontin and Vicodin are also addictive. They are quickly becoming the most abused prescription drug in the United States. Medications that can be addictive are Oxycodone, Oxycontin, Codeine, Hydrocodone, Morphine, Vicodin, Percocet, and Hydro morphine. It is commonly recognized that while these medications are legal they are among the most addictive and dangerous drugs available. Unfortunately, they are often in homes and this means that they can be accessed by young people which can lead to problems such as addiction.

Addiction to Prescription Opiates

Long-term abuse of opiate leads to addiction which causes both physical and psychological dependence. Because drug addiction is a physical condition and a pathological process, the abuse of an opiate leads to dramatic changes in the body’s system and the brain.

Long-term misuse of opiates distorts the levels of endorphin and serotonin in the brain and this can result in a person become totally dependent on a drug. People cannot simply stop taking an opiate without experiencing the harsh effects of withdrawal symptoms. These withrawls can lead to intense pain and revert the user into relapse.

Opiate addictions devastate tens of thousands of lives every year. Suboxone treatment can help those with opiate dependency to overcome their addiction.