Vicodin, Morphine, Heroine, Oh My!

In society today, doctors give out pain medication in the class of opioids like they are candy. For things from a tooth ache to surgery, the range of ailments which one can be prescribed opioids for is rather large. Opioids include codeine, hydrocodone (vicodin), oxycodone, and morphine. You may be thinking: why is this a problem? Isn’t it a good thing that doctors are helping people manage pain? That answer is rather complicated…
First, opioids can be highly addictive. The addictive factors of opioids means that it is supposed to be regulated and there are steps doctors are supposed to take when prescribing as well as follow-up steps after prescribing. But speaking from experience, it is not very hard to be prescribed these drugs. Doctors giving out addictive drugs to people who are likely not in the need of them can cause many societal problems such as prescription pills being sold on the street.

Second, while the drugs I listed above are the opioids regulated medicinally, heroine is also classified as an opioid. Part of the problem with these drugs is people do not understand what they actually do. Opioids work so well in managing pain because they block pain receptors in the spinal cord. This means that pain signaling cannot reach the brain to alert it of the pain. The difference in the drugs from codeine to heroine is the amount of the signal being blocked.
Most people would not try heroine because of its addictive and harmful effects on the body. But then the question becomes if you wouldn’t take one form of opioid, why would you take any?

Messing with signal pathways to the brain can have many adverse side effects. Are doctors doing their due dillagence in perscribing such serious drugs for something that a simple over the counter pain medication might help with? So next time you have the option of taking even the smallest dose of an opioid, even if it is prescribed by a doctor, ask yourself, are you really in enough pain to jeopardize the risks associated with opioids?