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Opioids, also known as Opiates, are drugs derived from Opium. Most modern Opioids were developed synthetically. Opioids have one of the longest histories of abuse of any drug classification. Opioids act by binding to neuro-receptors in the brain and interfering with their normal functioning. This can be highly beneficial when someone is in extreme pain, as it can eliminate suffering. This is why Opioids are so commonly and effectively used as painkillers, even in the detox process.
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Unfortunately, many individuals find the euphoric, relaxation, and pain-killing effects of Opioids extremely pleasurable, and they want to feel them as much as possible. These drugs also substantially and quickly alter brain chemistry, making them incredibly addictive. This combination quickly hooks many users who started taking Opioids when prescribed and then find that they cannot stop. As the user’s tolerance grows, they have to take more and more to get the same impact. Opioids impact the entire body and can be fatal at comparatively smaller doses than other drugs. The combination of tolerance and lethality has made Opioid overdose the single greatest concern in the drug epidemic. Every year, more than 50,000 Americans die of Opioid overdose.
Codeine is one of the primary ingredients in a number of prescription cough medicines. Until February 1, 2018, Codeine was also available in many over-the-counter medications as well. Codeine is still easily accessible in most areas of the United States, despite increasing restrictions on its sale. While Codeine is not considered to be as addictive or dangerous as many other Opioids, it is still commonly abused. The greatest danger posed by Codeine is that it is a very common gateway drug into harder Opioids.
Demerol is an extremely potent Opioid that is used almost exclusively to treat extreme pain in intensive hospital care. This potency also makes it an extremely attractive drug for abusers, and rates of Demerol addiction are rising rapidly. The drug comes in two forms, liquid and tablet. Unfortunately, Demerol’s potency also makes it extremely addictive and increases the risk of overdose.
Dilaudid was designed to help cancer patients cope with extreme pain, and it is one of the strongest of all Opioids. Dilaudid produces an intense calming effect and feelings of euphoria, which make it an increasingly popular choice among Opioid abusers. However, this drug carries one of the highest risks of overdose of any drug, making it considerably deadlier than less potent Opioids.
Fentanyl is a synthetic Opioid that is very similar to Morphine, only much stronger. In fact, Fentanyl is up to 100 times stronger than Morphine. The drug can be used in many forms, including transdermal patches, lollipops, tablets, lozenges, nasal spray, buccal film, intravenous liquid, and powder. Fentanyl is entering the US in larger and larger shipments, and many illegal laboratories are producing the drug as well. Fentanyl abuse is one of the fastest growing drug problems in America, and addiction rates are skyrocketing. Fentanyl is very commonly added to other substances, especially Heroin, to increase their potency and lower their cost. Unfortunately, the drug is most deadly when mixed. Fentanyl is responsible for more overdoses in the US than almost any other drug, with some states such as Ohio seeing more than 40% of all overdoses involving Fentanyl. Fentanyl is so dangerous because like all Opioids, it causes the respiratory system to slow down, and eventually stop working entirely.
Until other Opioids became common, Heroin was the most widely abused synthetic Opioid in the US. Found in either a powder or a sticky gel known as black tar Heroin, the drug is one of the most addictive substances on the planet. Heroin is the most common intravenous drug and is generally associated with a number of blood diseases that can be transmitted by sharing needles such as HIV and several forms of Hepatitis. Heroin is infamously difficult to quit, and many users find that they must rely on long term treatment with Methadone to stay clean. Heroin withdrawal is known to be especially severe, leading addicts to do whatever they can to avoid its effects.
Hydrocodone is most commonly prescribed to relieve pain following dental surgery. The drug is similar to other Opioids, although it is considerably less potent than many others. Hydrocodone abuse can lead to addiction if the abuse continues for an extended period or a large amount is abused.