In today’s society we often want to have straight forward answers and prompt results when it comes to our health and well being. When we visit the doctor or family physician we expect answers and direction. When it comes to medications, we put our trust in doctors to provide us with the best and most suitable solution there is. Although the medication may relieve unwanted symptoms, it might be creating an even bigger problem. The problem i am addressing is the possible opioid addiction and dependence that is accompanied by the over administration of opioid drugs acting on the dopamine system.
An opioid is a chemical that works by binding opioid receptors in the body which mediate beneficial and harmful side effects. Opioids are known as the oldest pain analgesic originating from the use of the resin of the opium poppy. Common opioid drugs consist of heroin, morphine and oxycodone just to name a few. While some of these opioid drugs account for relieving pain and blocking unwanted symptoms, they can also be abused by the administrator and eventually cause whats called addiction. Opioid drugs act on the dopamine, or pleasure system, of the brain and cause a euphoric effect. The dopamine pathway is what regulates desires, initiates movements and plays a role in the way we make choices. We can see how the euphoric effects of a drug would fit our requirements as a reward, but was is rewarding when all you have is a feeling induced by unnatural chemicals? In the case of over-administration, or frequent use when it is not needed can cause the dopamine reward system to be down-regulated. What this means is that the effects of a drug aren’t as noticeable with frequent use because of the adaption of the addictive chemical or opioid being present. A chemical tolerance can be originated and more of the drug will be needed to achieve a similar high or affect from the last time it was administered. The dopamine system is altered and eventually the only way reward is achieved is by the presence of an opioid in higher doses.
This leads to the discussion of drugs of abuse such as heroin, codeine and vicodin.Is the event of a broken bone the start of an opioid addiction? The drugs mentioned offer us a small window of relief when we are in pain and we consolidate a memory of euphoria. The implication isn’t that everyone who takes opioid analgesics will develop an addiction, but will notice a euphoric difference. The addictive traits come with the drug, but what if we could administer drugs without the addictive qualities. I think doctor’s and physicians are looking out for their patients by assessing pain before prescribing opiates. So should we trust doctors when they prescribe us drugs with addictive qualities? I don’t think it’s the matter of a physician leading the patients astray, rather the patients motives of drugs administration and the problems, whether it be pain or addiction that they have.