Opioid Abuse Facts

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facts about opioids

Opioid Abuse Facts

FACT: Opiates medications are pain killers derived from opium. Opioids, on the other hand, are synthetic opiates, which are manufactured to act like opiates, but they have a different chemical compound.


Opioids are broken down into four categories. They are:

1. Endogenous,

2. Opium alkaloids,

3. Semi-synthetic and

4. Fully synthetic.

FACT: Endogenous opioids are naturally produced in the body, such as endorphins. You may have heard an athlete talk about getting a good endorphin release during a workout.

FACT: Opium alkaloids are produced by the opium poppy plant. They are morphine and codeine.

FACT: Semi-synthetic opioids include oxycodone, and the illicit street drug heroin.

FACT: Fully synthetic opioids do not look anything like the semi-synthetic opioids, but they are made to do a complete different job, such as methadone, which is used to treat opiate addiction.

FACT: Opiate and opioid are really interchangeable in today’s language, but many professional people only use the term opioid. A little known set of Opioid Abuse Facts.

FACT: Opioids are highly addictive. These are Opioid Abuse Facts that people fail to comprehend until it’s too late.

FACT: Opioid medicines have been used and abused for 6000 years.

FACT: It was discovered centuries ago that the white, milky substance that oozed from the opium poppy plant’s unripe seeds would dry into a sticky brown gum and could be eaten. The scientific name is papaver somniferum, otherwise known as opium. The raw alkaloids, codeine and morphine are produced naturally in the plant. In small amounts it could be useful in controlling pain, or giving relaxation.

FACT: People discovered that opium could also be dried and smoked, producing a “high” or feeling of euphoria. Opium dens were common in Asia and came to the United States when Asian workers came to build the railroad.

FACT: Opioid medication is used to treat moderate to severe pain.

FACT: Morphine was the first medicine devised and was touted as a miracle drug and used widely during the Civil War. At the time they did not believe the drug was addictive.

FACT: After discovering that many veterans had become addicted they went back to work and developed a sure-fire solution to the morphine addiction problem—heroin.

FACT: The codeine alkaloid is the basis for commonly prescribed pain medications such as Hydrocodone (Vicadin), Oxycodone (OxyContin) and Acetaminophen with codeine (Tylenol 2, 3,4).

FACT: The modern Opioid medications, such as oxycodone, have become popular drugs of abuse in the United States.

FACT: Taken as prescribed by a doctor, opioids can be safe and effective, but human nature always pushes the limits. People will take too much, too often thinking that more is better.

FACT: Addiction to an opioid (narcotic) presents a major health and social problem in the world.

FACT: Opioids can cause respiratory failure, high blood pressure, cardiac arrest, coma and death.

FACT: Opioid abuse can lead to addiction. Abusers may develop a psychological dependence on the drug, thinking they must use in order to feel “normal.” These seem like obvious Opioid Abuse Facts but many ignore them at their peril.

FACT: Addiction to opioids can develop quickly or over time, but it is characterized by the inability of the person to stop using.

FACT: Opioid addiction is a brain disease.

FACT: Opioid addiction is not curable, but it is manageable through treatment and recovery programs.

FACT: Opioid withdrawal can be unpleasant but not life threatening. Withdrawal will usually peak between 48-72 hours after the last use. But withdrawal can last much longer, depending on the individual. Understanding withdrawal is a key part of Opioid Abuse Facts.

FACT: Fully synthetic opioid medications have been developed to lessen the impact of the withdrawal and help addicts rid themselves of the need to use. Principal among these are Methadone and Suboxone, both synthetic opiates themselves, but both act to block the impact of the opiates.

FACT: Opioid addicts will often relapse while in recovery, but it is not failure, it is an expected point in the cycle. Sometimes several attempts at treatment are necessary.

For more about Opioid Abuse Facts visit our home page.

Return to Heroin Addiction for more about Heroin specifically

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- Matthew 7:7-8

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