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Painkillers come in many varieties. There are some for small-scale issues like ibuprofen and mefenamic acid, then there are painkillers for severe conditions. Slip discs, fractured bones, post surgery pains and the like, can cause unbearable pain. This calls for prescription medication known as opiates. There’s also the term ‘opioid’ but it’s simply a term used for synthetic opiates.

The chemical is derived from the poppy plant’s seeds. This is the reason why there’s a myth about bread with poppy seeds causing positive hits on drug tests. The substance from the poppy plant has sedative and pleasure-inducing effects on the brain. They act fast, which means relief and bliss are mere minutes away, making them addictive. So, what are these drugs known as opiates?


Probably one of the most common opiates. Morphine is used to relieve severe pain, dealing 7-10 on the pain scale. Too much morphine can cause lung restrictions, making it dangerous for people with lung issues like asthma.


Arguably the least potent kind of opiate, but the effect is still as profound. Commonly prescribed for mild pain due to trauma or surgery. Codeine is usually used along with other drugs as a sort of booster. These drugs include aspirin, ibuprofen or guaifenesin.


Sometimes known as acetaminophen or Vicodin, preferred by a certain pill-popping diagnostician. This drug is stronger and more expensive that codeine, therefore used for pain which codeine can’t handle.


Chemically speaking, Oxycodone is different from Hydrocodone. Their effects are, however, virtually the same. The conditions when they are prescribed are the same as well. One arguable effect though, is that oxycodone will not suppress coughing, whilst hydrocodone can do so effectively.


Call it a ‘watered’ version of morphine. Hydromorphone is made to be more soluble in water, making it better for administering it intravenously. It’s more commonly used for situations where acute, severe pain is involved.  


A strong, or perhaps, the strongest form of opiate so far. Its effects are powerful, fast and short-lived, making it part of the World Health Organization’s essential medicines. Fentanyl comes in patch form, slow introduction of painkillers for 48-72 hours. This makes Fentanyl patches fast acting, reliable and safe.


Illegal and highly addictive. Heroin is a refined form of morphine and usually administered intravenously. Heroin has immediate and powerful euphoric effects. What separates it from the others is that the body creates tolerance to it much quicker. This means users have to take more of the drug and taking more means harder withdrawals. This fear of withdrawals and ever increasing tolerance makes heroine dangerous.

Things to Know about Opiates

All opiates can slow down breathing, which means people with lung problems should seek alternatives. Pregnant women should stay away from it, as much as possible, unless prescribed by a professional. Another is never taking alcohol with any opiate. Alcohol boosts the sedative properties of opiates. It can cause severe drowsiness, dizziness, lightheadedness, and loss of judgment.

One last thing is to always take as prescribed, no more. Though most prescribed opiates have low toxicity, it will still have an effect on the body. Be ever mindful of yourself.   


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