Opioids are medications that relieve pain. They reduce the intensity of pain signals reaching the brain and affect those brain areas controlling emotion, which diminishes the effects of a painful stimulus. Medications that fall within this class include hydrocodone (e.g., Vicodin), oxycodone (e.g., OxyContin, Percocet), morphine (e.g., Kadian, Avinza), codeine, and related drugs. Hydrocodone products are the most commonly prescribed for a variety of painful conditions, including dental and injury-related pain. Morphine is often used before and after surgical procedures to alleviate severe pain. Codeine, on the other hand, is often prescribed for mild pain. In addition to their painrelieving properties, some of these drugs—codeine and diphenoxylate (Lomotil) for example—can be used to relieve coughs and severe diarrhea.
Taken as prescribed, opioids can effectively reduce or eliminate pain. If abused, even a single large dose can cause severe respiratory depression and death. Properly managed, short-term medical use of opioids rarely causes addiction, which is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and drug use despite negative consequences. Regular (ex. several times a day, for several weeks or more) or longer term use or abuse of opioids can lead to physical dependence and, in some cases, addiction. Physical dependence is a normal adaptation to chronic exposure to a drug and is not the same as addiction. In either case, withdrawal symptoms may occur if drug use is suddenly reduced or stopped. These symptoms can include restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, cold flashes with goose bumps (“cold turkey”), and involuntary leg movements.
Dependence vs. Addiction
Physical dependence occurs because of normal adaptations to chronic exposure to a drug and is not the same as addiction. Addiction, which can include physical dependence, is distinguished by compulsive drug seeking and use despite sometimes devastating consequences.
Someone who is physically dependent on a medication will experience withdrawal symptoms when use of the drug is abruptly reduced or stopped. These symptoms can be mild or severe (depending on the drug) and can usually be managed medically or avoided by using a slow drug taper.
Dependence is often accompanied by tolerance, or the need to take higher doses of a medication to get the same effect. When tolerance occurs, it can be difficult for a physician to evaluate whether a patient is developing a drug problem, or has a real medical need for higher doses to control their symptoms. For this reason, physicians need to be vigilant and attentive to their patients’ symptoms and level of functioning to treat them appropriately.
Get Information About ADS’ Opioid Treatment Program
Source: NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse)
Research Drugs of Abuse
I came here wanting help and ADS has provided more than expected. I thank them very much.
ADS saved my life and are some of the greatest people I’ve ever known.
This program is a good place. Without it, I don’t know where I would be right now. Thank you guys!
I learned a lot about addiction and disease and how to not feel guilty about my past. I was able to stay clean and get the help I needed by coming to class and talking and listening.
Everyone at both clinics (East & West) are extremely wonderful and helpful. I feel like they’re family.
I really enjoyed coming to class. It helped me a lot. Thank you.
It helps to be able to talk with someone.
Excellent therapist and teacher.
IOP and Aftercare have really helped me in my addiction and to know what to do in the future. Thanks for giving me my life back.
Email a Counselor
Request a Presentation
Submit Your Request
Recent ADS Posts
- Celebrate Life By Coming Together is a free fam...
- The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has anno...
- There is an interesting life story and profile ...
- Fox 8 news reported that 102 people in Lancaste...
- Eleven teenagers in Indiana were hospitalized a...