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What You Should Know about Opiates and Opioids

Generally speaking, opiates and opioids are one in the same. The primary difference is that opiates are derived from an opium poppy, which is natural. Conversely, opioids are partially or fully synthetic.

Despite the fact that opiates and opioids can be used for good, such as when prescribed for pain, many people abuse this type of drug as they enjoy the way it makes them feel.

It doesn’t matter if you are abusing opiates or opioids or you are attempting to help a loved one in this position, there are things you need to know.

Most Common Opiates

codeine opiate

Codeine is a popular opiate.

Below is a list of the most common opiates, along with their generic names:

  • Codeine
  • Vicodin, Hycodan (hydrocodone)
  • MS Contin Kadian (morphine)
  • Duragesic (fentanyl)
  • Dilaudid (hydromorphone)
  • Oxycontin, Percoset (oxycodone)

Note: heroin is also considered an opiate.

Most people are familiar with these drugs due to their ability to manage pain, such as following a surgery.

What You Need to Know

Regardless of who you are, where you live, or your age, it is possible that you could become addicted to opiates or opioids. Here are five questions and answers that will help you better understand opiates and opioids:

  1. How is this type of drug abused?

Simply put, if you take this drug in a manner inconsistent with how it is intended, it is considered abuse. This can include:

  • Taking a prescription that was prescribed to somebody else.
  • Taking a prescription medication that was prescribed to be used in a different manner.
  • Taking the medication in an attempt to get high, not control pain.
  1. What are the effects of opiates and opioids on the body?

This type of drug can effect the mind and body in many ways. While typically prescribed to treat pain, use can lead to a variety of symptoms:

  • Confusion
  • Sleepiness
  • Nausea
  • Breathing problems, often associated with overdose
  • Constipation

The higher the dosage the greater chance there is of experiencing one or more of these symptoms.

Note: opiates and opioids, regardless of why the drug is being taken, should not be combined with alcohol or other medications. Doing so can lead to slow breathing, and in the most serious of circumstances, death.

  1. Is it possible to become addicted to opiates or opioids?

When taking a drug as prescribed, under the watchful eye of a doctor, there is less chance of developing an addiction. Those who abuse these drugs, without any regard for what a medical professional tells them, have a greater risk of becoming dependent or addicted.

The more a person takes an opiate or opioid, especially in larger quantities, the more important it is for them to be aware of the possibility of dependency or addiction. This is why these drugs should only be taken as directed by a medical professional. A doctor knows how much you should be taking, when to quit, and what to do if you become dependent.

  1. Are there symptoms associated with opiate and opioid withdrawal?

This depends largely on how long you have been taking the drug, as well as the quantity and frequency. Withdrawal can lead to pain and discomfort, often times associated with the following symptoms:

  • Bone and muscle pain
  • Restlessness
  • Sleep trouble
  • Cold flashes accompanied by goose bumps
  • Involuntary leg spasms
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Note: due to the seriousness of these symptoms, it is important to tackle withdrawal with the help of a rehab facility. Going through this cold turkey can be challenging, as you will not have access to treatment methods that can lessen the impact of the side effects.

  1. Is it possible to die from opiate or opioid overdose?

Many people don’t realize how serious these types of drugs can be. Believe it or not, taking one large dose can cause serious breathing problems, with the possibility of death.

According to NIDA for Teens, approximately 17,000 people died of opioid painkiller overdose in 2011. Even more alarming is the fact that this number more than tripled from 2001 to 2011.

Note: the risk of overdose is greater when opiates or opioids are combined with other drugs or alcohol. For example, it is dangerous to combine this type of drug with a depressant, such as Benzodiazepines.

Help is Available

Here is the most important thing to understand when it comes to opiate and opioid addiction: help is available.

Regardless of how much trouble you are facing, regardless of how far your addiction has come, it is imperative to remember that there are people and facilities that are willing to help.

Quitting cold turkey can be a challenge, as the withdrawal symptoms are difficult to overcome. Subsequently, you may slip back to your old ways sooner rather than later.

With the help of a treatment center, you will have a team on your side who knows what you are going through and how to provide the highest level of comfort. Furthermore, they provide training on relapse prevention.

Final Thoughts

These are just a few of the many things you should know about opiates and opioids. If you or a loved one is abusing this type of drug, don’t hesitate to get the help you need.

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