What Are the Main Differences Between Different Opioid Drugs?

Opioids are a powerful class of drugs that are primarily used to provide pain relief. There are many different types of opioids including medications like morphine, fentanyl and even street drugs like heroin. Opioids are classed as being either natural, semisynthetic or fully synthetic depending on the process and substances with which they are manufactured. All opioids are highly addictive substances and abusing opioids or even taking opioids in a prescribed manner can easily result in chemical dependence and opioid addiction.

How Do Opioids Work?

Opioids are most commonly taken orally or by injection although sprays, dermal patches and other forms of administration may also be used. Once an opioid has entered the body, it acts upon receptors within the central nervous system in order to reduce sensations of pain and discomfort. Opioids can vary considerably in terms of potency depending on the dose and type of drug being used. In addition to relieving pain, opioids can also produce a powerful euphoric sensation which often leads to increased instances of abuse and addiction.

Natural Opioids

While some opioids are made from partially are fully synthetic chemicals, drugs like opium, morphine and codeine are made naturally from the opium poppy. Despite the substances and process used to manufacture them, natural opioids can be just as dangerous and addictive as their synthetic counterparts, especially when abused or taken in an unsafe manner. Morphine is one of the most widely-used medications for pain management and is often prescribed to patients following a traumatic injury as well as during and after a surgical procedure. Even when prescribed by a doctor, morphine and other natural opioids can be highly habit forming and those who abuse the drug run a much higher risk of developing an addiction or suffering an opioid overdose.

Semisynthetic Opioids

This type of opioid is made using chemical compounds that are derived from the naturally-occurring compounds found within the poppy plan. While many semisynthetic opioids were created in an attempt to reduce the addictive properties of natural opioids, such efforts were not always successful. Common examples of semisynthetic drugs include hydrocodone, oxycodone, benzylmorphine as well as the street drug heroin.

Synthetic Opioids

Drugs like methadone, fentanyl, and dextropropoxyphene are wholly synthetic and were manufactured using man-made compounds. Drugs like fentanyl are used in the treatment of extreme pain as they are far more potent than natural opioids like morphine and require a much smaller dose in order to be effective. Other drugs like methadone are less potent and are frequently used to provide relief from the symptoms of withdrawal for those who attempting to overcome an addiction to heroin, morphine or other more powerful opioids.

Opioid Addiction

The high potency and habit-forming nature of opioids makes them a highly-addictive substance. Opioid addiction is a very common problem, one that often begins when patients are provided with a prescription for pain-management medication by a physician. Those who are taking opioids following a surgery, accident or other type of injury may notice that the effects of their medication may begin to decrease the longer they take it. Attempting to self medicate by upping the dosage in order to produce the same level of relief that patients have become accustomed to can easily lead to an addiction.

Signs of an Opioid Addiction

There are many signs that may indicate someone is developing or suffering from an opioid addiction. Common indications of a problem often include:

  • Mood swings
  • Loss of interest in work, school or personal activities
  • Pinpoint pupils are dark marks along the arms
  • Going through prescriptions too quickly
  • Fatuige and increased sleepiness

Being able to recognize the signs of chemical dependency and addiction can be crucial to recovery. Opioid addicts who fail to seek help are far more likely to suffer from the long-term health effects of opioids which often include overdose and death.

Treatment and Recovery

Attempting to overcome an opioid addiction without professional help can be far more difficult. Even acute withdrawal symptoms may be dangerous without proper medical supervision. There are numerous treatment options, including both inpatient and outpatient care. Even long-term counseling and emotional support groups can be powerful tools for those who are struggling to overcome an addiction.

If you are someone close to you is suffering from a problem with opioids, seeking help can make a life-saving difference. Call us today at 800-737-0933 to learn more about treatment options and other resources.