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Opium is used to treat pain during ancient times, as far back as 300 BC. Its effects are quite potent that it’s been passed down from generation to generation, civilization to civilization. Eventually, during China’s ancient years, it was first used to facilitate surgery.

Opium’s utility was further researched until we were able to extract purer forms out of it, with potency more than ten times powerful than the original. We refined it further, creating products more than fifty times more powerful than what we extracted. What is this wonder drug and how does it affect our body?

What are the Effects of Opioids?

Opioids are made to mimic the effects of Morphine. Morphine affects your body by attaching to neurons in your nerves and brain, These neurons receive the opioid and act accordingly, who primary effect is to block pain by slowing the neural activity in your spine and blocked neurotransmitters responsible for pain. The effect is strong enough that it can completely block pain even from heavy injuries.

Its secondary effect is that of a relaxant or a depressant. Taking painkilling opioids will cause the release of dopamine, the brain chemical responsible for feelings of satisfaction and reward. Dopamines flood your brain, giving you an intense version of the “warm fuzzies” and an unequaled euphoria. This perhaps its most dangerous effect, as it’s one of the reasons why Opioids are highly addictive.

It has a few other side effects that the realms of medicine have taken advantage of. Opioids have a cough suppressing effect, which is why traces of it was present in previous formulations of cough syrup. Opioids also suppress diarrhea, due to the substance slowing or halting the movements of your intestines.

One other effect is to slow your breathing down. This is a less utilized side-effect, which can cause users to suffocate i9f they overdose on the drug.

What is an Opioid?

Opioids are a group of drugs that mimic the effect of morphine. Their primary use is to relieve pain and as a sedative. The use of opioid must only be under the prescription of a licensed medical practitioner and in the military as administered by paramedics. Any other use of this product outside of these conditions is illegal.

Opioids come from Opium, which is naturally created by a certain breed of poppy plant. To harvest Opium, farmers find an unripe seed pod and makes a small cut on it. A milky resin slowly oozes out and farmers collect it. This resin is Opium, and is dried and packed, to be sent to pharmaceutical companies in the production of medicinal opiates and opioids.

What are the Examples?

They come in many shapes and formulations. Some of them are catered for outpatient use, in the form of pills and capsules. Others are meant to be used for quick administration, such as suspensions, syrups, and suppositories. Recently, they made some in patch form, allowing quick application with slower administration. There are the common types of Opioids. As research progresses, more and more types will be made.

  • Hydrocodone

One of the most common opioids prescribed to the people of the United States. Hydrocodone rarely comes in its pure form and is usually formulated with other additives like anti-inflammatories, cough suppressants, expectorants and other pain relievers like paracetamol.

Hydrocodone comes in pill form or syrup form and is meant to relieve moderate pain issues. These Include post-surgery recovery, injuries to the muscles and bone, spinal issues like slipped disc and pain caused by cancer.

  • Oxycodone

Very similar to Hydrocodone in terms of effects, except oxycodone does not have cough suppressing effects like Hydrocodone and other opiates. It’s also sold more around the world than the US.

Like Hydrocodone, it comes in pill and liquid form and is also commonly paired with symptom-treating drugs. Both Hydrocodone and Oxycodone are the most abused opioids in the world, due to their accessibility. This is why the monitoring of the product’s distribution is strictly enforced.

Both Hydrocodone and Oxycodone are synthesized from a component of Codeine. Their effects are a little less than Morphine but more potent than Codeine.

  • Fentanyl

Known to be fifty to one hundred times more powerful than Morphine, but with a significantly short half-life, meaning the drug’s effect won’t last as long. Fentanyl only comes in liquid form, to be administered intravenously.

Though Hydrocodone and Oxycodone are more abused, Fentanyl also found it’s way on the black market. It’s often sold in liquid pill form and consumable form, such lollipop or candy form, to maximize the potent, but short lasting effect.

In the medical world, recent advances allowed the creation of fentanyl in patch form. It’s currently seeing use in the military and used by paramedics. The patch allows a duration as long as 48 hours, depending on the concentration.

  • Methadone

Used for treatment of people addicted to Heroin, Morphine and any other opiate/opioid. This drug has nearly no effect on the body, apart from a slightly warm, fuzzy feeling. It’s used to help Opiate addicts minimize their withdrawal symptoms, by making the body believe that it has its dose of opiates, without the addictive high.

The drug is slowly tapered off because even Methadone can cause withdrawals. It’s being used in many rehabilitation centers as a safe way to quit the habit.

What are Endogenous Types?

The word Endogenous is a combination of ‘Endo’ which means internal, or from within; ‘Gen’ which means create, something that creates, or created from; and ‘ous’ which means possessing or full of.

Anything endogenous means it’s created in abundance from the inside. So, are Endogenous Opioids, substances that came from inside our bodies?

The answer is yes. Our bodies create chemicals that control our behavior called neurotransmitters. They are what makes our muscles move, our organs to functions, and what makes us feel good and bad. If you feel the high from a too morning run, that’s your neurotransmitters rewarding you for making yourself a bit healthier. If you saw something so sad like a guy who just threw a bunch of roses and a teddy bear to the trash, that’s still your neurotransmitters reacting, reminding you not to get broken hearted and rejected.

Our brains also create opioids, so we can feel good about ourselves. The highest pleasure we can get naturally is through an orgasm, and that signals the brain to release a spike of something called “Endorphins.”

Endorphin is short for “Endogenous Morphine.” Our body naturally synthesizes morphine that helps us calm down when we are excited or angry. It’s also responsible for reducing pain and increasing our pain tolerance. This is why opium affects us. The substances in opioids mimic that of endorphins. Though they are not structurally the same, the brain recognizes them as one and the same.

What is the Difference Between an Opiate and an Opioid?

The difference between them is a matter of how they are created. They both come from Opium, which is on its own, an Opiate (since it’s derived from the base plant, the poppy)

Opiates are substances that are extracted from Opium. The word itself has the “ate” suffix, which has many definitions, but among them is the chemical definition which is “derived from,” or “taken from” such as carbonates, hydrates and so on.

The first opiate is Morphine, an alkaloid extracted from Opium. It’s the primary substance in opium that provides the painkilling effects along with the euphoria. Another example is Codeine, a less potent but safer alkaloid.

As for Opioids, the suffix ‘oid’ means “Resembles, but not perfect,” such as “Humanoid” which means it looks human and “Arachnoid” which means it resembles spiders (or something with a lot of legs)

Opioids are synthesized from the lesser chemicals inside Opium. One such substance is Thebane, then using the basic structure of this substance, they added a few other substances, turning it into products like Hydrocodone and Oxycodone.

In terms of effects, with a few exceptions, Opiates and Opioids have the same painkilling effect in the body. The only thing that makes them different is the formulations.

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