What Are Prescription Opioids? [Effects, Dangers & Treatment] 

It’s no new that while prescription opioids can effectively alleviate pain, they can also be highly addictive.

For this reason, the first thing you want to do after being prescribed these medications is to learn as much about them as possible. This way, you know what to expect and how to minimize the risk of addiction.

This article covers the key things you should know about prescription opioids, including their effects, dangers, and treatment.

What Are Prescription Opioids?

Prescription opioids are potent painkillers used to relieve moderate to severe pain, usually when other types of pain medication can’t be used or aren’t strong enough.

Due to the high potential for opioid abuse and addiction, prescription opioids are classified as controlled substances. Although they can be used for chronic pain management, they’re usually recommended to treat acute pain, such as that resulting from injuries or experienced after surgery.

Prescription opioids fall into one of three categories based on their origin:

  1. Natural opioids: Also known as opiates, natural opioids are derived directly from the poppy plant. Some examples of them include codeine and morphine.
  2. Semi-synthetic opioids: These are created by synthesizing natural opioids in labs. Oxycodone (OxyContin®, Endone®) and hydrocodone (Vicodin®, Lortab®) are popular semi-synthetic prescription opioids used for pain management.
  3. Synthetic opioids: Synthetic opioids are fully man-made and devoid of natural opioids. This category includes drugs such as tramadol (Ultram®, ConZip®) and methadone (Dolophine®, Methadose®).

Effects of Prescription Opioids

The main effect of prescription opioids is pain relief, which occurs when these drugs bind to the opioid receptors in your central nervous system (CNS) and prevent your brain from receiving pain signals from the body.

Prescription opioids also trigger dopamine release in the body, which can result in feelings of euphoria. This makes these drugs particularly addictive, as we are naturally wired to repeat dopamine-inducing behaviors.

Besides euphoria, prescription opioids can also cause other side effects, especially at higher doses. Among others, these include:

  1. Drowsiness
  2. Nausea
  3. Breathing difficulties
  4. Slowed heart rate

Needless to say, some of these side effects can be life-threatening, so you should always take prescription opioids strictly according to your doctor’s instructions.

Dangers of Prescription Opioids

Opioid addiction is by far the greatest danger of taking prescription opioids.

Even when taken as prescribed, these medications can cause you to build up tolerance. As a result, your body will need increasingly higher doses of the drug to achieve the same effects.

Tolerance often goes hand in hand with opioid dependence, a state of being physically dependent on the drug. It is characterized by the presence of withdrawal symptoms once you stop taking the medication or reduce its usage. Eventually, physical dependence can lead to addiction, and once it happens, you’re no longer able to control your opioid use.

Prolonged use of prescription opioids can also lead to respiratory depression, seizures, heart disease, liver damage, kidney failure, and other potentially life-threatening conditions.

ANR Treatment for Opioid Dependence

If you’re struggling with opioid dependence, please don’t blame yourself. Due to the addictive nature of prescription opioids, it can happen to anyone.

That said, the last thing you want to do is quit opioids on your own, as it can lead to intense withdrawal symptoms, relapse, overdose, and even death. Because of this, it’s in your best interest to seek professional help.

If you’re looking for an effective opioid dependence treatment, you should consider Accelerated Neuro-Regulation (ANR).

Unlike other opioid addiction treatments available today, ANR tackles opioid addiction at its core and returns your brain to its pre-addiction state, negating the risk of relapse.

Key Takeaways

By now, you should know everything you should keep in mind when taking prescription opioids.

Before you leave, let’s go over the key points we covered in this article:

  1. Prescription opioids are strong painkillers that relieve pain by interrupting the transmission of pain signals between the body and the brain.
  2. While pain relief is the primary effect of prescription opioids, they can also cause euphoria, shallow breathing, slowed heart rate, and other side effects.
  3. You should always use prescription opioids as instructed by a doctor to minimize the risk of opioid dependence, addiction, liver damage, and other dangerous conditions.
  4. The ANR treatment is an effective opioid addiction treatment that reverses the changes in the brain resulting from opioid use.

About the author

Dr. Andre Waismann

He is the founder of the ANR Clinic and an intensive care medicine physician with over three decades of experience in treating opioid addiction. After pioneering rapid detox, Dr. Waismann developed Accelerated Neuro-Regulation (ANR), an opioid addiction treatment that has helped more than 24,000 people worldwide regain control over their lives.

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