An opiate is a narcotic alkaloid that naturally occurs in the opium poppy. The most commonly used and abused opiates are morphine, codeine, and thebaine. These drugs are used in the medical field for pain relief, but are also commonly abused. Opioids are closely related drugs that are synthesized from opiates. Semi-synthetic opioids include heroin, hydrocodone (aka Vicodin, Lortab), oxycodone (OxyContin), and oxymorphone (Opana). The term opiate is often used to refer to the whole class of drugs derived from the opium poppy.

Opiates act by affecting opioid receptors throughout the brain. Opioid receptors are involved in pleasure pathways, which leads to the feeling of euphoria that opiates produce. There are also opioid receptors in the brain stem, where vital functions are controlled, which is why opiates carry such a high risk of overdose, which can cause a person’s breathing and/or heart to stop.

According to a 2011 study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, opioid addiction affects approximately 5 million people nationally and leads to approximately 17,000 deaths every year. Opiate withdrawal can occur when someone who has become dependent on opiates suddenly stops taking them. Withdrawal symptoms include insomnia, restlessness, kicking motions, cold sweats, diarrhea, vomiting, and an intense craving for the drug.

Serenity House provides a safe way to detox from opiates under close supervision from our medical staff. Using buprenorphine, which lessens withdrawal symptoms without creating the euphoric effect, our physicians and nurses can help you safely transition out of opiate withdrawal and prepare for a journey of recovery from drug addiction.

Comments are closed