WHAT ARE OPIOIDS?
Opioids include illegal drugs such as heroin and prescription medications used to treat pain such as morphine, codeine, methadone, oxycodone (OxyContin®, Percodan®, Percocet®), hydrocodone (Vicodin®, Lortab®, Norco®), fentanyl (Duragesic®, Fentora®), hydromorphone (Dilaudid®, Exalgo®), and buprenorphine (Subutex®,
Opioids work by binding to specific receptors in the brain, spinal cord, and gastrointestinal tract. In doing so, they minimize the body’s perception of pain. However, stimulating the opioid receptors or “reward centers” in the brain can also trigger other systems of the body, such as those responsible for regulating mood, breathing, and blood pressure. A variety of effects can occur after a person takes opioids, ranging from pleasure to nausea and vomiting, to severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) and overdose.
Opioid overdose, in which breathing and heartbeat slow or even stop, can occur when a patient misunderstands the directions for use and accidentally takes an extra dose. It can also take place when a person deliberately misuses a prescription opioid or an illicit drug such as heroin.
What you should know:
The majority of people obtain prescription drugs they misuse or abuse from friends and relatives, sometimes without the friends or relatives knowledge.
Misusing or abusing prescription drugs is not safer than misusing or abusing illicit drugs.
Prescription drugs can be addictive and lethal when misused or abused.
Prescription painkillers can lead to heroin use.
Combining prescription drugs/over-the-counter medications and alcohol can cause respiratory failure and death.
Prescription opioids and heroin are both opioids. They contain molecular structures that are nearly identical and interact with your brain in the same way. They both bind to receptors in your brain that keep your body from feeling pain.
WHAT ARE THE RISKS AND SIDE EFFECTS OF OPIOID USE?
• Physical dependence
• Increased sensitivity to pain
• Nausea, vomiting, and dry mouth
• Sleepiness and dizziness
• Depression and anxiety
• Low levels of testosterone that can result in lower sex drive, energy, and strength
• Itching and sweating
• Increased risk of fall, fractures and pneumonia
COMMONLY ABUSED/MISUSED OPIOIDS
Most people take prescriptions responsibly under a doctor’s care. However, there has been a steady increase in the nonmedical use of medications, especially by adolescents and young adults. Prescription drug misuse occurs when a person takes a prescription medication that is not prescribed for him/her, or takes it for reasons or in dosages other than prescribed. The nonmedical use of prescription medications has increased in the past decade and has
surpassed all illicit drugs, except marijuana, in the United States. Misuse of prescription drugs can produce serious health effects, including addiction. Commonly misused prescription medications include those that are intended to relieve pain, aid with sleep or anxiety.