The abuse of opioids has become very rampant, especially in the United States, where people lose their lives to overdose on a daily basis. The dangers of opioids are not just hinged on the health risks for abusers but also for individuals on prescription opioids.

report in 2018 showed that at least 128 lives were lost every day to opioid overdose in the United States. The addiction to common opioids such as heroin, fentanyl, and others incur an economic burden of $78.5 billion annually in America, and this includes lost productivity, cost of health care, criminal justice, addiction treatment, and other critical issues.

The risks of opioids are well represented in the opioid crisis, where 21% to 29% of patients who used opioids on prescription misused them frequently. At least 8 to 12% developed an opioid use disorder. A record of 4 to 6 percent of individuals who misused opioid prescriptions transitioned to the use of heroin. It was found that 80% of people who use heroin had first misused various common opioids.

What are Opioids?

An opioid is a class of drug that is found in nature from opium poppy plants. Some classes of opioids are produced from the plant while some are synthetic and are created by scientists using similarly structured chemicals. Opioids have served as pain relievers since their discovery. They are largely used to treat moderate to severe pains; however, it can also be used to treat other health issues such as diarrhea, cough, and others.

Opioids, when used, can create a feeling of “high” and relaxation, which makes the drug prone to abuse. The drug is also highly addictive, and many abusers find themselves addicted to its euphoric effect. Essentially, opioid risks are usually based on addiction to the medication, overdose leading to death, organ malfunction, and many other problems.

Heroin is considered as one of the most dangerous opioids with a high addictive characteristic and very deadly. Heroin is a schedule 1 drug and is banned in the United States. Other opioids are often used for various medical purposes and require the consult of a physician before a patient can be given a prescription for opioids. Many prescription opioid users often develop an addiction to the drug; this is why most physicians initially recommend a non-opioid pain reliever, which is as effective and with minimal side effects and risk of developing an addiction.

Opioids pills on the black background.

What are Opioid Names?

These are a list of common opioids and their generic name:

  • Hydrocodone ( Vicodin)
  • Fentanyl (Duragesic)
  • Oxycodone (Percoset, Oxycontin)
  • Codeine
  • Morphine (Kadian, MS Contin)
  • Hydromorphone (Dilaudid)

Opioid Risks

It is often advised to seek the counsel of a medical professional in order to understand opioid dangers and risks before opting for the drug for any medical condition. What risks does someone have if they drink opioids? Some potential common side effects of opioids include:

  • Constipation
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea
  • Shallow breathing
  • Unconsciousness
  • Slowed heart rate

Addiction to opioids Is a major risk factor that alters the functions of the brain, especially on long-term use. Users may build a tolerance to common opioid painkillers, causing them to increase dosage intake in order to feel relief from pain. These progressive increases in dosage, if done without consulting a doctor, may lead to an overdose at some point. Taking more opioid medications than prescribed can lead to severe health complications and death. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reported more than 2 million cases of opioid misuse in the US. At least 90 people die from opioid overdose in the United States every day.

In addition, Opioids medications are difficult to stop. It may be dangerous to suddenly stop using opioid prescription medications. The best way to stop using the medication for pain is by tapering the drug off; this means reducing the doses by a certain percentage until the drug is completely stopped in order to avoid withdrawal symptoms.

Taking Opioids Safely

Opioids can be administered in different forms, such as lozenges, pills, injections, a suppository, and a patch. Here is how to take opioids:

  • Opioids should only be taken by under the supervision of a medical doctor
  • One should not stop the use of opioids abruptly, and the medication should be slowly tapered off to avoid health issues
  • Do not use opioid without consulting a physician for safe, effective doses or alternatives to the drug itself
  • Use the medication exactly as directed

The issues associated with opioid risks and dangers can be avoided by consulting with a qualified physician.

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