What are Opioids

Video 2 of 13
1 min 54 sec
Want to watch this video? Sign up for the course or enter your email below to watch one free video.

Unlock This Video Now for FREE

This video is normally available to paying customers.
You may unlock this video for FREE. Enter your email address for instant access AND to receive ongoing updates and special discounts related to this topic.

Opioids are a class of drugs prescribed by doctors for their pain-relieving properties. They work on different receptors throughout the body in one of two ways. The first way is to make the nerve sending out pain signals less likely to fire through a process called hyper-polarization. The second way is that they inhibit the release of a certain group of neurotransmitters whose normal function is to send pain waves to the brain through nerves. Because both of these stop signals from being sent, opioids can be mostly described as being inhibitory. The fact that opioids have these properties means that they have a tendency to be highly addictive. This is because they make the body feel good when it should be feeling bad. However, this does not mean that they should never be taken. When prescribed by a doctor, opioids can be very helpful as long as they are being taken as told and not abused. If a person thinks that they are addicted to opioids, then they should talk to their GP.

Arguably the most well-known opioid is heroin. But other famously abused opioids include fentanyl and oxycodone. Oxycodone, among others, such as codeine, hydrocodone, and morphine is typically prescribed by doctors for serious pain relief. As such, the responsibility lies partly with the doctor to help advise the patient what to do when prescribed and signpost them to the correct help should they need it if they become addicted. Consequently, doctors are less likely to prescribe opioids unless totally necessary. In recent years, new drugs such as methadone and buprenorphine have become effective in helping the battle against opioid abuse.