Opioids: Medicine Or Recreational Drug?

Everyday people all over the world are using drugs, whether medicinally or recreationally. Opioids have been the drug of choice for relieving intense pain and a drug that many people choose to abuse. Known for its addictive traits, opioids have a long history of use. Since the time of the Egyptions and even the Sumerians, opioids have been used for their pain relieving and euphoric effects.

Opioids are defined by their ability to bind to and influence opiate receptors on cell membranes and can be divided into three classes: naturally occurring, semi-synthetic, and synthetic opioids. Two common types of naturally occurring opioids are morphine and opium. Opium is extracted from the Papaver somniferum plant and morphine is the primary active component of opium. Along with these drugs, endogenous opioids (found within the body) can also be considered naturally occurring, and these include endorphins, enkephalins, dynorphins, and endomorphins. The semi-synthetic opioids are similar to the naturally occurring opioids in the fact that they use compounds isolated from natural resources as starting materials. The difference lies within the synthesis of the finished product. Common types of semi-synthetic opioids include heroin, hydrocodone, and oxycodone. The last type is the synthetic opioids, and these are created solely through chemical synthesis. Beprenorphine, codeine, and methadone are all types of synthetic opioids.

In a society where medicine is key proponent to treating ailments, the risks that come along with its use ought to be recognized. Of the problems associated with opioids, addiction, misuse, abuse, dependence, and overdose are amongst the most common. Considering that there are beneficial effects to using opioids (pain relief, cough suppression, etc.), scientists and researchers are searching to diminish the addictive effects. In the future, a more effective opioid drug is the goal.