Opiate are a commonly referenced and used drug. But what are opiates and how do they work? Opiates, and their synthetic counterpart, opioids, are prescription drugs that are commonly used to treat pain. They are highly effective at pain management and are frequently given following surgeries and other major medical procedures. However, addiction can occur requiring an opiate detox center for recovery.
What Are Opiates?
Opiates are drugs that function by impacting opioid receptors in the brain, as well as those throughout the body. When they bind to these receptors, they’re able to affect how you experience pain. However, they are highly addictive and may lead to prescription drug abuse over time. In the United States, they are classified as Schedule II, which is a category for highly addictive substances. Access to these drugs is heavily regulated.
The name comes from the plant that is the source for natural opiates: the opium plant. This plant has been used for many medicinal purposes throughout history, making it one of the most significant flora in pain management and prescription drugs.
Opiates include drugs such as:
The illegal substance heroin is also included in this drug category, as well as the associated treatment with methadone. Opioid addiction and an inability to access prescription drugs may lead some people to heroin as a way to continue pain management, or for recreational use.
Types of Opiates
What are opiates and the different types that you can find? All of the opiates fall under one of two categories: antagonists or agonists.
Agonists can act in a similar fashion to endorphins. This category is the stronger of the two, which also contributes to people getting addicted to these drugs.
Antagonists are known to be less addictive than agonists, although this comes with the drawback of being less effective at pain management. However, this drug category is particularly useful for helping to treat opioid addiction safely and effectively.
What Are Opiates and Why Are They So Addictive?
Opiates are very effective at their intended purpose, and if you’re in pain, it’s a relief to not be experiencing that distress and discomfort. Sometimes your pain levels are so high that you need more opiates to function normally. Your body slowly becomes accustomed to this substance, and you’ll need progressively higher doses to get the same feeling.
For chronic pain sufferers, such as those with severe back pain, being on opiates may be the first time that they’ve been pain-free in a long time. It’s natural to not want to experience high levels of pain that get in the way of everyday activities.
Before long, you end up needing to take them, and you’re unable to continue your day without your dose.
Impacts of Opiate Addiction
Doctors may not continue to provide a prescription to opiates after the typical recovery time associated with the medical procedure. For chronic pain sufferers, they may heavily limit the doses and how frequently the prescription can be taken.
You may find yourself turning to an illegal source of opiates, such as heroin, to continue getting pain relief. Your tolerance builds up and you may find yourself focusing solely on when you’re going to get another dose of the drug. You may engage in other illegal activities, such as stealing money, to fund this addiction.
Getting Help with an Opiate Addiction
Withdrawal from opiates and managing the condition that originally drove you to addiction is challenging. These drugs are incredibly addictive, and the withdrawal symptoms can be intense. Quitting cold turkey is not advisable, as your body is addicted to a certain level of the drug in your system. Suddenly taking that way can be a severe shock. Treatment with supportive drugs in a medical detox program will taper your usage and support you with medical care for any complications.