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Opioid Overview: – Opioids are derived from or mimic substances in the opium poppy plant. – They act on opioid receptors to produce morphine-like effects. […]

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Opioid Overview:
– Opioids are derived from or mimic substances in the opium poppy plant.
– They act on opioid receptors to produce morphine-like effects.
– Used for pain relief, anesthesia, diarrhea suppression, and addiction treatment.
– Extremely potent opioids like carfentanil are for veterinary use only.
– Recreational use can lead to addiction and overdose.
– In 2013, between 28 and 38 million people globally used opioids illicitly.

Medical Uses and Guidelines:
– Weak opioids like codeine treat mild pain, while others relieve moderate to severe pain.
– Effective for acute pain, post-surgery, and palliative care.
– Caution is advised in using opioids for chronic non-cancer pain.
– Not recommended as first-line treatment for headaches.
– Paracetamol and NSAIDs are safer alternatives for chronic pain management.

Adverse Effects and Side Effects:
– Common side effects include nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, itching, dry mouth, and constipation.
– Opioids can cause respiratory depression, which is a serious adverse reaction.
– Tolerance to side effects like nausea and drowsiness develops over time.
– Strategies like using antiemetics or antihistamines help manage adverse effects.

Addiction and Tolerance:
– Tolerance is a neuroadaptation process that varies for different effects.
– Physical dependence is the body’s adaptation to opioids.
– Drug addiction involves misuse of opioids, often through insufflation or injection.
– Slow-release formulations aim to reduce misuse and addiction rates.
– Properly managed opioid use can provide long-term pain relief with low addiction risk.

Other Considerations and Interactions:
– Opioid-induced hyperalgesia can occur with chronic use or high doses.
– Long-term opioid use may affect hormonal systems and lead to hypogonadism.
– Rare side effects include respiratory depression, confusion, hallucinations, and muscle rigidity.
– Pregnancy implications include increased risk of complications and neonatal abstinence syndrome.
– Interactions with other drugs, especially depressants, can increase risks like respiratory depression.

Opioid (Wikipedia)

Opioids are a class of drugs that derive from, or mimic, natural substances found in the opium poppy plant. Opioids work in the brain to produce a variety of effects, including pain relief. As a class of substances, they act on opioid receptors to produce morphine-like effects.

Drug class
Chemical structure of morphine, the prototypical opioid.
Class identifiers
UsePain relief
ATC codeN02A
Mode of actionOpioid receptor
External links
Legal status
In Wikidata

The terms 'opioid' and 'opiate' are sometimes used interchangeably, but there are key differences based on the manufacturing processes of these medications.

Medically they are primarily used for pain relief, including anesthesia. Other medical uses include suppression of diarrhea, replacement therapy for opioid use disorder, reversing opioid overdose, and suppressing cough. Extremely potent opioids such as carfentanil are approved only for veterinary use. Opioids are also frequently used recreationally for their euphoric effects or to prevent withdrawal. Opioids can cause death and have been used for executions in the United States.

Side effects of opioids may include itchiness, sedation, nausea, respiratory depression, constipation, and euphoria. Long-term use can cause tolerance, meaning that increased doses are required to achieve the same effect, and physical dependence, meaning that abruptly discontinuing the drug leads to unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. The euphoria attracts recreational use, and frequent, escalating recreational use of opioids typically results in addiction. An overdose or concurrent use with other depressant drugs like benzodiazepines commonly results in death from respiratory depression.

Opioids act by binding to opioid receptors, which are found principally in the central and peripheral nervous system and the gastrointestinal tract. These receptors mediate both the psychoactive and the somatic effects of opioids. Opioid drugs include partial agonists, like the anti-diarrhea drug loperamide and antagonists like naloxegol for opioid-induced constipation, which do not cross the blood–brain barrier, but can displace other opioids from binding to those receptors in the myenteric plexus.

Because opioids are addictive and may result in fatal overdose, most are controlled substances. In 2013, between 28 and 38 million people used opioids illicitly (0.6% to 0.8% of the global population between the ages of 15 and 65). In 2011, an estimated 4 million people in the United States used opioids recreationally or were dependent on them. As of 2015, increased rates of recreational use and addiction are attributed to over-prescription of opioid medications and inexpensive illicit heroin. Conversely, fears about overprescribing, exaggerated side effects, and addiction from opioids are similarly blamed for under-treatment of pain.

Educational video on opioid dependence.
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