What’s an Opioid Anyway?

There’s been a lot of talk about the “Opioid Crises” lately, so we wanted to get everyone up to date on just what an opioid is.

The term opioid, pronounced “oh-pee-oid”, refers to prescription pain medications and heroin. More specifically:

  • oxycodone (OxyContin, Percodan, Percocet)
  • hydrocodone (Vicodin, Lortab, Lorcet)
  • diphenoxylate (Lomotil)
  • morphine (Kadian, Avinza, MS Contin)
  • codeine
  • fentanyl (Duragesic)
  • propoxyphene (Darvon)
  • hydromorphone (Dilaudid)
  • meperidine (Demerol)
  • methadone

The Side Effects

Prescribed as a safe and effective way to treat pain, if taken for extended periods of time, or if the prescribed dose is exceeded, opioid use can create addiction and severe medical problems. Some of these problems are:

  • sleepiness
  • confusion
  • nausea
  • constipation
  • slowed or stopped breathing
  • liver damage
  • brain damage due to hypoxia, resulting from respiratory depression
  • paranoia
  • coma
  • skin rash
  • heart rate slowed or sped up

Symptoms of Use

How do you know if someone you love is abusing opioids? These are some of the symptoms:

  • Small pinpoint pupils
  • Itchy arms, stomach, legs
  • Droopy eyes
  • Slurred Speech
  • Feeling no pain
  • Drowsiness, lack of energy
  • Can’t concentrate, lack motivation
  • Change in friends and activities
  • Flu like symptoms (from withdrawal)
  • Increased Secrecy

Startling Facts

    • In 2016, more than 64,000 people in the United States died from opioid overdose, 19% more than in 2015, and 6000 more than the total number of Americans who died during the Vietnam War.
    • 1000 people a day are treated in US emergency departments for not taking prescription opioids as prescribed.
    • Opioid and drug overdose is now the leading cause of death among Americans under 50.

Opioid addiction can happen to anyone, including teenagers, grandparents, professionals, and “good people”. It’s important to recognize if you or someone you love has become addicted and then talk to a doctor about it. Withdrawal from opioids can have serious side effects and a doctor can help you to manage the process.

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