In the late 1990s, there was a push by pharmaceutical companies to market painkillers that they insisted were not as addictive as opiates used previously. With this assurance, the medical community believed that they could prescribe them without fear that their patients would become addicted to the medications. This was the root of the opioid crisis, which was then declared a public emergency in 2017 by the Department of Health and Human Services. To better understand how we got here, we need to understand the difference between opiates vs opioids, how both naturally lead to addiction, and the need for an opiate addiction treatment center in Bend, OR.
Opiates vs Opioids
Opiates are a variety of substances based on naturally-occurring chemicals that exist in the opium poppy. Opioids are synthetic painkillers that mimic the effects of these naturally-occurring chemicals. These drugs include prescription pain relievers, heroin, and synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl.
Of these, codeine and morphine are the most well-known and are still prescribed by doctors today. These opiates are closely controlled. While their addictive properties were well-known, their medical value made them indispensable. While most opioids are from these opiates, there has been a more recent wave of synthetic and semi-synthetic medications that are not based on extracts from opium.
The Prevalence of Opioids
Pharmaceutical companies used one of the most common opiates, Thebaine, as a roadmap for future development. These are known by their brand names Percocet and Vicodin. They were among the first wave of opioids that were over-prescribed in the early days of the epidemic.
Chemists have also created opioids using man-made chemicals derived from opiates such as Hydrocodone and Oxycodone. Chemists consider these drugs to be semi-synthetic. The first of these drugs was the most infamous opioid ever created by a drug company: Diacetylmorphine. The drugmaker Bayer called it heroin because it makes you feel like a hero. Similar to the modern wave of opioids, Bayer and other drug makers marketed this drug as less addictive.
Additionally, drug companies have created completely synthetic variations of opioids such as fentanyl, methadone, and meperidine.
How Opioids Facilitate Addiction
These drugs relieve pain by interacting with receptors in the brain that regulate pain in the body. However, these receptors do not only affect pain. They also change how we experience pleasure or rewarding activities as well as certain essential autonomic functions such as respiration.
As part of natural functions, our body and brain create chemicals including dynorphins, endorphins, and enkephalins. The brain then uses these chemicals in order to reward us for activities that contribute to the well-being of the body. These include eating, drinking, and exercising. They also can be a survival mechanism during times of stress, pain, and distress to provide short-term relief.
When used, opioids also send these chemicals surging through the brain. This creates unwanted dependence because of disruptions in the normal chemical process. This leads to substance abuse, as it takes more and more for that chemical rush.
Unlike the chemicals created by the body, opioids are capable of creating dependence by creating an unbalanced pain/reward/relief cycle, as well as killing the user by ceasing respiratory functions. This is why it’s important to seek out high-quality substance abuse treatment programs.
Contact Sunstone Recovery Today
Opioid abuse is one of the most deadly forms of addiction. However, there is still time to save your life or the life of your loved ones. If you need help to stop using opiates vs opioids or know someone who does, please call Sunstone Recovery at 855.833.9199 today for more information on the insurance verification process.