What are Opioids and How Are They Taken?

May 19, 2023
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Opioids are a class of drugs that are commonly used to treat pain. However, they can lead to addiction issues when taken for extended periods or in larger doses.

Opioids are a class of drugs that are commonly used to treat pain. However, they can lead to addiction issues when taken for extended periods or in larger doses. Opioid addiction can cause significant harm to an individual’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being, as well as their relationships and finances.

At Magnolia Medical Group, we offer comprehensive outpatient addiction treatment services tailored to meet each patient’s unique needs. Our team of experts is committed to helping those struggling with opioid addiction achieve long-term recovery. In this blog, we will discuss what opioids are, how they are taken, and the potential risks associated with their use.

What are opioids?

Opioids, which are sometimes referred to as narcotics, are a class of drugs that doctors commonly prescribe to manage severe or chronic pain. They work by binding to specific receptors in the brain, spinal cord, and other parts of the body to reduce pain signals.

Opioids are typically used to manage pain caused by conditions such as chronic headaches, backaches, and arthritis, as well as post-operative pain and pain associated with cancer. They are also used to treat acute pain resulting from injuries, such as sports injuries or accidents. While opioids can be highly effective at managing pain, they also carry a significant risk of addiction and other negative side effects.

How do opioids work?

Opioids work by binding to specific proteins called opioid receptors located in the brain, spinal cord, and other parts of the body, including the gut. By attaching to these receptors, opioids can block the transmission of pain signals from the body to the brain, effectively reducing the perception of pain. This mechanism of action makes opioids highly effective at managing severe or chronic pain. However, opioids also carry a range of negative side effects, including drowsiness, nausea, constipation, and respiratory depression, and can lead to addiction when used over an extended period. In fact, the risk of developing an opioid addiction is particularly high when these drugs are used for chronic pain management.

How are opioids taken?

Opioids can be taken in various forms, depending on the type of drug and the severity of the pain being treated. They are commonly available in the form of pills, capsules, or tablets that can be swallowed orally. Some opioids are also available in lozenge or lollipop form, which are placed in the mouth and allowed to dissolve slowly. In some cases, opioids are administered intravenously, either through direct injection or through an IV line. Opioids can also be delivered through a skin patch, which slowly releases the medication into the bloodstream, or through a rectal suppository. It is essential to follow the prescribed dosage and administration instructions carefully, as opioids carry a risk of dependence and addiction.

Medical Uses of Opioids

When prescribed and used correctly under medical supervision, prescription opioids can provide much-needed relief for a range of conditions. Opioids are commonly used to alleviate pain, particularly in cases of post-surgical pain or severe pain caused by injury or disease. Some opiates are also effective in treating coughs and diarrhea and can help alleviate other symptoms of illness or injury, such as shortness of breath or anxiety.

Most Common Types of Opioids

Doctors commonly prescribe several different types of opioids to alleviate pain. These medications are available in various strengths and formulations and are often sold under different brand names. Some of the most well-known opioids include codeine, fentanyl, hydrocodone, oxycodone, oxymorphone, and morphine.

Codeine is often used to treat mild to moderate pain and is available in several different formulations, including cough syrup.

Fentanyl is a potent synthetic opioid that is often used to treat severe pain, particularly in cancer patients.

Hydrocodone is commonly prescribed for moderate to severe pain and is often combined with other medications, such as acetaminophen, to enhance its effectiveness.

Oxycodone and oxymorphone are both powerful opioids that are typically used to manage severe pain.

Morphine is another potent opioid that is commonly used to treat moderate to severe pain, particularly after surgery.

These medications are often sold under different brand names, including OxyContin, Percocet, Palladone, and Vicodin.

How Should You Stop Taking Prescribed Opioids?

It is crucial to approach stopping the use of prescribed opioids in a responsible and safe manner. Abruptly ending opioid use can cause uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms such as insomnia and nervousness. Therefore, it’s crucial to work closely with a medical professional to develop an individualized tapering plan to minimize withdrawal symptoms.

During the tapering process, your prescriber will monitor your progress and adjust the rate and duration of the tapering based on your response. Additionally, they can guide you to additional sources of support if needed.

It is important to understand that opioid withdrawal symptoms can vary from person to person but may include drug cravings, anxiety, insomnia, abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. These symptoms can be minimized through a slow reduction in dosage, consultation with the appropriate specialists, and psychological support for anxiety.

Working closely with your medical provider to develop a tapering plan is the safest and most effective way to stop prescribing opioids. Remember that stopping opioid use is a gradual process that requires patience, commitment, and support.

Get Help with Opioid Addiction

opioids can relieve pain associated with various medical conditions, injuries, and surgeries. However, opioids are highly addictive and can cause harm when misused. Understanding the risks of addiction and seeking help for opioid abuse is critical to preventing harm to both the individual and their loved ones.

If you or someone you know is struggling with opioid addiction, contact Magnolia Medical Group for comprehensive and compassionate outpatient addiction treatment services. Don’t hesitate to take the first step towards a healthier and happier life.