When doctors prescribe a medicine we tend to think of it as safe. The doctor knows what they are doing of course and they would never give us anything dangerous. Except, these drugs need a prescription because they are, in fact, dangerous.

Doctors prescribe opiates generally because people have pain problems. These are meant to help. Over time though it is easy to become dependent and eventually addicted to these drugs. People might even abuse them for physical effects like sedation or euphoria.

Using opiates for either of these reasons can eventually lead to addiction even if you think you’re careful.

Opiates are made from the poppy plant, which has opium. Common ones you may know are morphine or codeine. The ones you might associate most with misuse are heroin, oxycodone, and hydrocodone.

Some legitimate reasons people might begin using these drugs:

–    cough suppression

–    pain treatment after surgery

–    treatment for acute pain

–    treatment for chronic pain

When opiates are prescribed they usually come as pills or tablets. Sometimes they come in a liquid form depending on how they are dispensed. They are meant to treat and lessen pain.

If prescribed and monitored by a doctor they can be used safely. But it is far too easy to abuse these drugs.

Types of Opiates

The obvious and illegal forms of opiates include:

–    Heroin

–    Opium

Prescription opiates that can eventually be misused:

–    Codeine

–    Diphenoxylate (Lomotil)

–    Fentanyl (Duragesic)

–    Hydrocodone (Vicodin, Lortab, Lorcet)

–    Hydromorphone (Dilaudid)

–    Meperidine (Demerol)

–    Methadone

–    (Dolophine, Methadose)

–    Morphine (Kadian, Avinza, MS Contin)

–    Oxycodone (OxyContin, Percodan, Percocet)

–    Propoxyphene (Darvon)

How Do Opioids Work?

The chemicals from opioids enter your bloodstream and travel up to your brain. They send out signals to tell your body to stop feeling pain. It can include calming effects and sedative effects.

They basically trick receptors in your brain and alter your central nervous system. It can trigger the release of dopamine which is the body’s natural feel-good chemical. This is part of what can cause addiction because people love the rush.

When the dopamine is triggered to release more than usual, this can cause intense feelings of pleasure. With the added benefit of blocking pain, these drugs can easily be misused. As your body grows addicted, you eventually can’t stop using it.