What is an Opioid?
- by Preston Rau
Opioids are substances that bind to opioid receptors in the brain and body to relieve pain. They may be natural or synthetic. Examples include prescription painkillers such as Fentanyl and Heroin.
Opioids may lead to various side effects, including physical dependence and withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking them. They may also increase your chances of having a low birth weight baby.
What are opioids?
Opioids are natural or synthetic chemicals that bind to opioid receptors in cells to relieve feelings of pain while increasing feelings of pleasure and reward. Opioids are prescribed by physicians following surgery or chronic illnesses such as cancer to reduce severe discomfort. Narcotics include prescription pills (codeine, morphine, hydrocodone, oxycodone tramadol) as well as illegal heroin.
Long-term use of opioid drugs may result in addiction and serious side effects, although they are rarely prescribed for chronic pain unless special circumstances exist. Some medicines absorbed through the skin may also be applied as patches, lozenges, or injections to address discomfort.
How do opioids work?
Opioids attach to proteins called opioid receptors on nerve cells in your brain, spinal cord and gut to block pain messages and induce relaxation and drowsiness.
Long-term opioid usage can result in physical dependence and addiction, with withdrawal symptoms appearing if you stop taking the medicine or take less than your prescribed dosage.
Pregnancy-associated hyperemesis syndrome, or PAPS, can be a potentially life-threatening condition that puts both mother and baby at risk of premature delivery or breathing difficulties after birth. PAPS may also lead to neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS).
What are the side effects of opioids?
Opioids prescribed by your physician can provide effective and safe pain relief, but when misused can have severe negative side effects including sleepiness and feeling high; at higher dosages they can even stop or slow breathing altogether, which reduces oxygen reaching your brain and can result in coma or even death.
Some individuals who use opioids for extended periods can become dependent upon them, meaning their bodies become used to the medicine and require larger doses to achieve similar effects. Dependence may manifest either psychologically or physically.
What are the risks of overdose with opioids?
Overdosing on opioids is possible when too much medication is taken or when combined with other medicines or illegal substances like fentanyl. Furthermore, swallowing pills whole is more likely than chewing them or injecting prescription opioids nonmedically through needles.
Anxiety, depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (also called PTSD) are conditions which increase your risk of overdosing with opioids. Their symptoms may make it harder to stop using the drug; additionally, babies born to mothers who ingested opioids during gestation may suffer neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS).
What are the risks of addiction with opioids?
Opioids pose a higher risk for addiction and overdose than any other substance, and should be taken in moderation only as taking too many can result in fatal overdose. An opioid overdose occurs when too many opioids overload your brain's receptors and block breathing – without oxygen, your heart stops beating and you become unconscious or die.
Your chances of opioid addiction increase if you use them outside the scope of what was intended, such as crushing pills to snort or inject them. Your risk increases further if you have had previous mental health or substance use issues as well as irresistible cravings that require compulsive drug-seeking behavior which disrupts relationships, work or home life.
What are the risks of pregnancy with opioids?
Pregnant women taking opioids may face certain risks during gestation. These may include sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS).
Opioids can pose serious risks during gestation if taken too excessively or used incorrectly, leading to addiction, overdose and potential pregnancy complications.
Some pregnant women who use opioids often also suffer from mental health conditions like anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD develops after experiencing something scary or upsetting that makes you fearful or self-critical – it affects both women and men equally.
Opioids are substances that bind to opioid receptors in the brain and body to relieve pain. They may be natural or synthetic. Examples include prescription painkillers such as Fentanyl and Heroin. Opioids may lead to various side effects, including physical dependence and withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking them. They may also increase your chances…