What Are the Different Types of Opioids?
What are the different types of opioids? Learn about what opioids are, what they’re used to treat, and how you can safely use them.
Addiction to opioids and opioid overdose are significant public health concerns in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), overdose deaths stemming from opioid abuse rose from about 47,000 deaths in 2018 to 50,000 deaths in 2019. 1
This article will discuss commonly abused opioids drugs, the different types of opioids, symptoms of addiction, and how individuals can safely use opioids to manage pain.
What Are Opioid Drugs?
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), opioids drugs are a specific class of legal and illegal substances often used for pain relief. 1
There are both legal and illegal opiates, and it is important to only consume opiates properly prescribed by a professional.
How Do Opioids Work?
Morphine (Naturally Occurring Opioid)
Codeine (Naturally Occurring Opioid)
Heroin (Semi-Synthetic Opioid)
Buprenorphine (Synthetic Opioid)
Buprenorphine or Subutex belongs to a class of drugs called synthetic opioids. This schedule three medication is commonly prescribed to treat opioid dependence but does have the potential for abuse. 8
Opioids: What are They and What Do They Do?
There are three main categories of opioids. These types will be detailed below.
Three Main Opioid Classifications
The three opioid types and compositions include:
- Natural Opioids: Natural opioid types, including codeine and morphine, are classified based on their chemical structure. 11
- Semi-Synthetic Opioids: Semi-synthetic opioid types of the natural alkaloids include oxycodone, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, and buprenorphine. 11
- Fully Synthetic Opioids: Fully synthetic opioids include fentanyl, sufentanil, alfentanil, methadone, tramadol, etc.11
What Happens to Your Brain When You Misuse Prescription Opioids?
Opioids’ effects on the brain include inducing temporary feelings of calm, happiness, and reduced pain. 12
Opioid Misuse Symptoms
If a person abuses opioids for chronic pain or other opioids side effects, they may experience breathing issues, nausea, vomiting, constipation, sleepiness, and confusion. 12
Opioid Misuse Side Effects
It is important to be cognizant of the risks of misuse and always consult a doctor when consuming opiates.
Symptoms of Opioid Addiction
If you or someone you care about is struggling with addiction and the effects of opioids on the body, it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with the symptoms of opioid addiction. Keep reading to learn more about the most common signs of opioid addiction.
Side Effects of Opioids
Now that you know how opioids for chronic pain work, let’s explore the short and long-term effects of opioids.
Short-Term Side Effects
An opioid mechanism of action can result in detrimental short-term side effects, including:
- Drowsiness: Feelings of drowsiness or sleepiness can be a side effect of short and long-acting opioids.
- Slowed Breathing: Difficulty breathing or slowed breathing is a possible side effect of overdosing on opioids.
- Constipation: If a person is using or overdosing on opioids, they may experience constipation.
- Unconsciousness: Unconsciousness is a possible short-term side effect of short and long-acting opioids.
- Coma: Due to the opioid’s mechanism of action, coma is a possible short-term side effect.
- Nausea: Nausea and vomiting are short-term side effects associated with strong opioids.
Long-Term Side Effects
The following sections will discuss the long-term side effects of abusing strong opioids.
Chronic Constipation and Gastrointestinal System Disruption
Long-lasting gastrointestinal symptoms, including constipation, can result from abusing substances on the opioid list of drugs.
Respiratory Issues and Irregular Breathing
Lung infection and respiratory issues are possible long-term side effects of opioid addiction.
Cardiovascular System Issues Like Atrial Fibrillation
Long-term abuse of opioids can cause heart infection and other cardiovascular issues.
Reproductive System Shutdowns
Reproductive damage is associated with substance abuse, including opioid addiction.
Susceptibility to Bone Fractures
For individuals with a history of abusing opioids, there is an increased risk for muscle pain and bone fractures.
How Can You Safely Use Opioids To Manage Pain?
Although addiction and withdrawal from opioids are risky, it’s possible to receive opioid treatment safely. Keep reading to learn how to avoid withdrawal from opioids and discuss alternatives to opioids with your provider.
Talk to Your Physician or Physician Anesthesiologist
If you have concerns about addiction or opioid misuse, discuss this with your healthcare provider to learn about your options.
Watch Out for Side Effects
Now that you’ve read this article, you are familiar with the possible side effects of opioid addiction. Consult your doctor immediately if you begin noticing any symptoms of opioid addiction.
Take Opioids Only As Directed
If your physician prescribes opioids, follow their instructions closely to manage pain safely.
Seek Treatment When Necessary
If you or a loved one is struggling with opioid addiction, it is important to know that you are not alone. Treatment options are available, and you can regain autonomy over your life.
At Concise Recovery, we will equip you with the tools needed to reestablish sobriety and wellness in your life.