Opioids – What drugs are opioids?

Opioids – What drugs are opioids?

By Isabella Gomez

 

The Opioid Epidemic is arguably the most dangerous drug crisis in the history of the United States. In just the past decade, the rate of deaths caused by opioid overdose has demonstrated an exponential growth. Over 115 people die daily from opioid overdose. Among the many kinds of opioids, the most commonly recognized are morphine, heroin, and codeine. Out of the 42,000 deaths by opioid overdose in 2016, about 40% involved prescribed opioids. So, what are these legally prescribed yet lethal drugs?

According to Psychology Today, opioids are a “class of controlled pain-management drugs that contain natural or synthetic chemicals based on morphine, the active component of opium,”. These drugs are commonly prescribed to relieve severe pain, which can include post surgical pain relief, or to treat coughing and diarrhea. However, the relaxation that is associated with taking opioids often leads to addictive behaviors.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse explains the effects of opioids on the brain, and why it has lead to the Opioid Epidemic: “Opioids bind to and activate opioid receptors on cells located in many areas of the brain, spinal cord, and other organs in the body, especially those involved in feelings of pain and pleasure. When opioids attach to these receptors, they block pain signals sent from the brain to the body and release large amounts of dopamine throughout the body. This release can strongly reinforce the act of taking the drug, making the user want to repeat the experience,” (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2018).

The Opioid Epidemic is not just dangerous to individuals, but it is additionally dangerous to the country as a whole. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has placed an estimate value of $78.5  billion  a  year  on  the  economic  burden  of  the  crisis. Between the health care, criminal

justice, and treatment, opioid misuse adds up, negatively affecting the status of the United States’ economy.

Learning about opioids and proper use is the first step to solving this lethal epidemic. Detecting their use is equally as important and rather easy to do with a simple Urine Drug Test. Professional and home drug tests, such as the EZ Test Cup 5 and 12 panel DOA (Drugs of abuse) cups allow anyone to perform a screening and see the results in less than 5 minutes. When individuals begin to learn about managing pain relief medications, and when doctors begin to better analyze who is well equipped for taking opioids, the opioid epidemic will hopefully begin to decline, making the world a less drug oriented place.