Essentially, opioids are chemicals that interact with opioid receptors on the nerve cells in the body and brain to reduce feelings of pain. They are a class of drugs that include prescription pain relievers such as; oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, fentanyl, methadone, pethidine, tramadol, and carfentanil. Prescription opioids are meant to be used to treat acute pain, chronic pain, active-phase cancer treatment, palliative care and end-of-life care. Many people rely on prescription opioids to help manage their conditions under the care of a physician, but now we are seeing more people abuse what they are prescribed.
Every day, more than 130 people in the United States die after overdosing on opioids. Opioid addiction has become a serious national crisis that affects not only public health, but social and economic welfare.
Some of you might be wondering why opioids have become so distinguished in today's society.
In the 1990's pharmaceutical companies had reassured the medical community that patients would not become addicted to prescription pain relievers such as opioids. Therefore, healthcare providers began to prescribe opioids at a higher rate generating a higher rate in addiction to opioids, and opioid overdoses.
Opioids produce high levels of positive reinforcement, increasing the odds that people will continue using them despite negative resulting consequences. Opioid use disorder is a chronic lifelong disorder, with serious potential consequences including disability, relapses, and death. Opioids can lead to physical dependence within a short time, as little as 4-8 weeks. In chronic users, the abruptly stopping use of opioids leads to severe symptoms, including generalized pain, chills, cramps, diarrhea, dilated pupils, restlessness, anxiety, nausea, vomiting, insomnia, and very intense cravings. It is essential that anyone with an opioid disorder get help as soon as possible.