Opioids are a class of drugs made from opium, as well as synthetic or semi-synthetic drugs that resemble these opium-based drugs. Many opioids are available by prescription. Examples include oxycodone, codeine, morphine, and fentanyl. Heroin is one of these drugs that is illegal. These drugs are often referred to as narcotics.
Addiction is marked by an out-of-control need and craving that affects relationships and social obligations, such as work and school. Some medications have a higher risk of addiction. Even with proper use they are associated with alterations in the pathways in the brain. These pathways influence sense of reward and well-being which can influence addiction.
Opioid abuse is inappropriate use of opiods. It may include snorting pills, mixing with other drugs and alcohol, or using them for the wrong reasons (such as using pain medication for sleep). Opioid abuse may only develop because of addiction or the addiction may develop after abuse of an opioid.
Opioids produce a quick, intense feeling of pleasure (euphoria), followed by a sense of well-being and calm drowsiness. When opioids are used repeatedly, your brain is likely to become dependent on them. Opioids are highly addictive.
Other factors that may play a role in opioid addiction include:
- Genetic factors
- Altered pathways in brain caused by the addictive drug
- Peer pressure and personality traits
Chemical Release in Brain
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
Last reviewedFebruary 2013by Brian Randall, MD
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