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Types of Opioid Drugs That Are Abused

Drugs are consider "opioid drugs" when at least one of the ingredients was derived from the opium poppy (Papaver Somniferum). The opium poppy is just one of the many varieties of plants in the poppy family (Papaveraceae).

The sap of the opium poppy is where the raw opium is stored. This substance is retrieved and processed for use in those drugs which are considered "opioid drugs" and for which a prescription or authorization from a licensed health care professional is required. The majority of opioid drugs are used for pain relief. Sometimes, certain ones can be used for other reasons, such as treating diarrhea.

Forms of Opioid Drugs?

The most common type of opioid drug is Morphine. This drug is generally used to treat severe pain, such as that associated with cancer. Morphine is usually very fast-acting, especially when given in liquid form or through injection or intravenous route, in some cases bringing on almost instantaneous relief. This can be especially true in those persons who do not take narcotic drugs except on occasion.

Another opioid drug that is not as strong as morphine, but still has good results when used for pain control is Hydrocodone. This drug is often prescribed for moderate to severe pain, such as that which may occur after surgery or a rather serious injury such as a broken bone.

Oxycodone is another opioid drug. This drug is slightly stronger than Hydrocodone, which makes it a good choice for treating pain that occurs as a result of kidney stones or similar conditions. It can also last longer than Hydrocodone, thus making it possible for a smaller amount to be given less often.

Another opioid drug is Fentanyl—One of its brand names is Onsolis. This medication is extremely effective in treating "break-through" pain. Many cancer patients often experience this type of pain. They may already be experiencing constant pain, however, that pain has been controlled with other drugs to the extent that it remains at a fairly stable level. Break-through pain, however, is much more severe, and may also have a sudden onset.

Another good thing about fentanyl is that it can be administered through the use of a small film that has been coated with the medication. The film adheres to the inside of the patient's cheek and the medication is released within 15 to 30 minutes, as the film dissolves, bringing quick relief.

Fentanyl and Tramadol, another opioid drug, are often used when "round-the-clock" pain relief is necessary, as is again often the case with cancer patients. Tramadol is not as strong as fentanyl, but the fact that it is given in extended-release tablets means that the medication remains at a fairly constant level at all times.

If you are old enough, you may be able to remember when it was possible to obtain one certain opoid drug, Paregoric, without a prescription. Paregoric is still available, however, because of its highly addictive properties, it now must be prescribed. When it is prescribed, it is usually for treatmenting severe diarrhea, although it can also act as a pain reliever. Paregoric works on smooth muscles, such as the stomach or, in women, the uterus. For this reason, women who are suffering from severe menstrual cramps may sometimes be given paregoric.

quoteAs mentioned earlier, all opioid drugs have the propensity to be abused, and all can be addictive. For this reason, it is important that care be taken to ensure that only the prescribed dosage is being given and only at the proper intervals. Further, when opioid drugs that are intended only for short-term use are prescribed, the person using these should switch to non-narcotic pain relievers as soon as the pain is completely gone or has greatly diminished. This will help prevent abuse and addiction.quote_right

Why Do Doctors Prescribe Opioid Drugs?

These drugs generally provide the best relief for pain, and it is known that uncontrolled pain can actually slow the healing process. However, the majority of doctors are very aware of the fact that opioid drugs can be abused or that addiction can occur; therefore, they take care to prescribe them only when absolutely necessary.

How Can I Prevent Opioid Drug Addiction?

The best way to prevent abuse or addiction is to not use them unless it is absolutely necessary. If they must be used, though, as soon as the pain is controlled, the drug should either be stored safely so that family members for whom it was not intended cannot have access (also, "out of sight, out of mind" may come into play here, especially if the user is concerned about the possibility of him becoming addicted or abusing it).


  • Wayne's Word

  • Fox Chase Cancer Center

  • U.S. Food and Drug Administration

  • PudMed Health

  • U.S. National Library of Medicine .. National Institutes of Health
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