What Are Opiates?
Opiates refer to an extensive class of drugs spanning commonly prescribed pain medications to illicit drugs such as opium and heroin. Medically, most opiates are used for their analgesic effects to treat moderate to severe acute and chronic pain. Opioids work by blocking the brain’s pain signals. They attach to proteins called opioid receptors located in the body’s central nervous system, gastrointestinal tract, and other organs.
Opioid pain medications can be very effective and helpful when used as prescribed for medical purposes. Nonetheless, prescription pain medications and illegal opiates or “street drugs” have the same addictive properties. Most opiate medications are classified under Schedules II and III of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) for their addictive properties. In addition, heroin is an illegal opiate drug with no accepted medical use in the U.S. and a high potential for abuse. For these reasons, it is a Schedule I substance under CSA.
What is the Difference Between Opiates and Opioids?
Semi-synthetic and purely synthetic substitutes for opiates are often called opioids. Heroin, hydrocodone, oxycodone, oxymorphone, and hydromorphone are semi-synthetic derivatives of opium. Fully synthetic opioids (created in laboratories) include methadone, fentanyl, and tramadol and do not contain any natural opium derivatives.
The terms opiate and opioid are often used interchangeably, with opioid being the more general and all-inclusive term.
Commonly Used and Abused Opiates and Opioids
|Generic Name||(Brand Name)|
|Hydrocodone||(Vicodin and Lortab and Lorecet)|
|Oxycodone||(Oxycontin and Percodan and Percocet)|
|Oxymorphone||(Opana and Numorphan)|
|Buprenorphine||(Buprenex and Suboxone and Subutex)|
|Methadone||(Dolophine and Methadose)|
|Fentanyl||(Actiq and Fentora and Duragesic and Sublimaze)|
|Tramadol||(Conzip and Rybix ODT and Rysolt and Ultram)|
What Are the Symptoms and Signs of Opiate Addiction?
Taking opiates over an extended period can create a natural tolerance to the drug, requiring higher doses to produce the desired effects. Eventually, users can become psychologically and physically dependent on opioids, which may lead to addiction.
Opiates can produce euphoria for some users who take the drug for medical purposes. Likewise, recreational users will take medicine for the sole purpose of getting high. In either case, this also often leads to opiate abuse and addiction.
Symptoms of Opiate Addiction
|Drowsiness and “nodding”||Constricted pupils|
|Slowed breathing||Slowed heart rate|
Signs of Opiate Addiction
If you find yourself constantly craving opioids and engaging in drug-seeking behavior such as doctor and pharmacy “shopping,” then you may be addicted to the drug. Opioid medications are intended to relieve pain and improve the quality of your life. If the drug is causing harmful effects on your health and energy instead of helping you, it is time to consider treatment seriously.
Likewise, if you are using opioids without a doctor’s prescription and administering it in ways not intended, such as crushing and snorting the pills too high, seek medical attention. If you don’t, then opiate abuse and addiction can result in devastating consequences, even death.
Withdrawal–What Happens When You Stop Taking Opiates?
Stopping or significantly reducing the use of opiates after heavy and prolonged use can be an unpleasant experience and result in a withdrawal syndrome. That is why the assistance of trained medical professionals may be necessary during opioid detox and withdrawal stages. The wide range of withdrawal symptoms includes:
Early Symptoms of Withdrawal
|Muscle aches and bone pain||Increased tearing||Insomnia Sweating|
Late Symptoms of Withdrawal
|Abdominal cramping||Dilated||pupils Diarrhea|
|Vomiting||Cold flashes with goosebumps||Nausea|
Opiate Addiction Help and Treatment
Opiate addiction can be treated successfully through the direction and assistance of Holy Land Rehab. Our caring and experienced professionals will develop a detoxification plan under medical supervision to meet your specific needs, which may include using medications such as clonidine to help you with a comfortable withdrawal.
Holy Land Rehab also offers ongoing programs to prevent opiate relapse, a critical component of aftercare. Without this help, some recovering abusers will return to opiates after withdrawal and detox. Users who relapse become susceptible to overdose deaths because their tolerance was reduced during the initial treatment, making them prone to overdose on significantly smaller doses than they took before opioid detox.
Get the help you deserve today. If you have questions about opiate or opioid abuse, addiction, and treatment, call our 24/7 Addiction Helpline at 888-446-5952. All calls are toll-free and confidential. You can also visit us online for more information at Holy Land Rehab.