Opiate drugs activate receptors in the brain and body. Two important effects are pleasure/reward and pain relief. The brain produces endorphins which also activate these opiate receptors. When opiates are injected, inhaled, crushed or chewed, they travel quickly through the blood stream, flooding receptors. Stimulation of the receptors can cause greater amounts of dopamine to be released. This results in a “rush,” or feelings of extreme euphoria, usually followed by a calm, relaxed state. The excessive release of dopamine, combined with over-stimulation of the reward system, can lead to addiction.
The term “opiates” is derived from opium, which is processed from the opium poppy. Active opiates found in opium include morphine, codeine, thebaine and papaverine. Synthetic opioid such as heroin and hydrocodone are synthesized from these substances, mainly morphine and codeine. Today, opiates are still the most effective pain relievers available in medicine, and include morphine, OxyContin, Tramadol, Lorcet and Lortab. Opiates are heavily prescribed around the world, which has sent addiction rates soaring. The societal and economic impacts of opiate addiction have far-reaching consequences for users, their families, communities and agencies involved in law enforcement and healthcare. The scourge that is opiate addiction has governments and agencies scrambling to control it.
Opiates are powerful painkillers that cause sedation and euphoria and are commonly abused. These include OxyContin, morphine, codeine, Fentanyl, Dilaudid, Lorcet, Lortab, heroin and Stadol. Opiate addiction is caused by persistent use of opiates and is thought to be a disorder of the central nervous system. Once addicted, many opiate users feel completely powerless and continue to use despite potentially dangerous or life-threatening consequences.