Common Opiate Drugs

Most Common Opiate Drugs

Opiate based abuse and addiction is a global problem. It not only affects individuals and their loved ones, but society as a whole. Between 26.4 and 36 million people around the world abuse the most common opiates like hydrocodone and morphine. The consequences of this abuse include overdoses and deaths; both of which have skyrocketed in the previous decade.

Classes of Opiates

Opiate is often used to describe opioid as well. Technically, opiate refers to the naturally occurring alkaloids found in opium; the resin of the opium poppy. Semi synthetic substances which are derived also from the poppy flower may be described as being opiates too, but most doctors consider them, and synthetic substances, to be opioids. Natural, synthetic and semi synthetic opiates are all narcotics, possess painkilling properties and euphoric like effects. The primary differences between opiate drugs are their potency and half life. This is the amount of time it takes to eliminate the drug from the bloodstream. Furthermore, once an addiction ensues, the severity of the withdrawal will depend on the length of the addiction, the dosage, drug potency and half life. In general, high potencies have a more intense withdrawal and those with longer half lives have a longer withdrawal. Keep in mind that opiate potencies will also vary depending on the route of administration. For example, a 10 mg dose oral dose of oxycodone is equivalent to 15 mg of oral morphine. The reason is that oral oxycodone is stronger than that of oral morphine. However, this does not hold true when15 mg morphine is injected; this would be more potent than oxycodone.

It used to be that when a person heard the term “opiate addiction”, heroin was the first drug to think of. Nowadays, the same term can refer to several different types of opiates. The following explanations will ease the confusion and help you to understand the most common opiate drugs and their differences.

Natural Opiates

Codeine - Codeine is naturally found in the opium poppy; however, because it is in such small amounts most of it on the pharmaceutical market is synthetically made in labs. It’s used to treat moderate to severe pain or suppress a cough or cold. Codeine can be used through oral, rectal or intramuscular administration. Its half life is around 2.5 to 3 hours.

Morphine- Morphine is the most abundant alkaloid found in opium. It is considered to be one of the most effective medications to relieve moderate to severe pain and has been used for nearly 200 years. Although not a common street drug, morphine can cause a greater dependence than most other analgesics. When prescribed, morphine can be taken through oral, intravenous, intramuscular or rectal administration. Abusers will often crush and snort the pill or smoke it. The half life for morphine is between 2 and 3 hours.

Semi-synthetic opioids:

Hydrocodone – Hydrocodone is prescribed to treat moderate to severe pain; however, it is also the most heavily abused prescription drug in the world. Vicodin, Lortab, Lorcet, Norco and Zydone are just a few common brand names; all of which are considered to be stronger than codeine. Methods of using include oral, intranasal or rectal. Abusers may crush and snort the medication or smoke it. The half life is between 4 and 6 hours which means the withdrawal for hydrocodone can be more intense than its natural counterparts.

Oxycodone – Known more by its popular brand name, OxyContin, oxycodone is widely prescribed to treat moderate to severe pain. In a means to prevent abuse, the manufacturer added an extended time release to the tablets so they would be released in the body over 12 hours. However, abusers quickly found a way around this making it possible to get the same 12 hour dosage all at once. This has led to a rapid increase in oxycodone abuse and addiction along with overdoses and deaths. This opiate can be taken orally, rectally, intramuscular and intravenously. The half life ranges from 3 to 4.5 hours.

Heroin – Derived directly from morphine, heroin has a long history of abuse due to its intense, yet short lasting euphoric and sedating effects. It’s commonplace for abusers of morphine or oxycodone to eventually turn to heroin for a stronger high. It can be snorted, injected or smoked. The half life of heroin is less than 10 minutes; however, it metabolizes directly into morphine, whose half-life is between 2 and 3 hours. Due to its intensity and strength, becoming addicted to heroin can happen in just a couple of uses. The withdrawal is equally intense which leads to a number of addicts struggling to quit the drug without the assistance of an opiate rehab.

Synthetic opioids:

Meperidine – More commonly known by its brand name as Demerol, meperidine or pethidine is prescribed to treat moderate to severe pain. It’s not commonly abused; however, if no other opiate is available, abusers will use this drug. Doctors generally do not prescribe large amounts because it can lead to an accumulation of the toxic metabolite normeperidine. This is a CNS irritant and can lead to seizures. Meperidine can be taken through intranasal, rectal, intravenous and oral administration. It has a half life between 5 and 6 hours.

Fentanyl – As a fully synthetic opioid, Fentanyl is a highly potent drug used to treat severe pain, terminally ill patients or provide anaesthesia and analgesia in hospital settings. The drug is around 100 times stronger than morphine and can be administered through transdermal, intramuscular, intravenous, oral, sublingual and intranasal routes. Abusers of Fentanyl often use the transdermal patches; this is partly due to with its limited street availability, but also the way the drug can be extracted. Fentanyl has one of the highest overdose rates of all opiate based drugs. Over the last 5 years, it’s became increasingly common for drug dealers to lace heroin with fentanyl because it produces stronger effects. Unknowingly, individuals use the heroin in their same preferred doses, but end up overdosing. Without immediate medical help, this is often fatal.

Getting Help for an Opiate Addiction

An addiction to any common opiate can be very serious. The withdrawal alone can be mentally and physically intense; so much so, that quitting without assistance may seem impossible. Moreover, cravings for the drug can last for weeks or months. For a healthy, long lasting sobriety an opiate treatment program should be considered. A rehab will help to get through the initial withdrawal symptoms by implementing an opiate detoxification. From there, a variety of therapies will be implored to work through core issues, identify root causes and create coping strategies which can be used during and after treatment. Throughout the program, constant care, support and guidance will be offered in a safe and private environment. Whether you’re completing a 1 month, 2 month or 3 month opiate rehab program, you will be on your way to living a happy, sober life.

If you would like to know more about our opiate treatment, contact Siam Rehab today. We’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have about our leading rehab centre in Thailand.