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What are Opioids?

Opioids are medicines generally used to manage pain by acting on specific nerve cells of the spinal cord and brain. These medications include:

  • oxycodone
  • morphine
  • hydromorphone
  • fentanyl
  • codeine

Many people believe that prescription drugs are less dangerous when misused than illicit drugs because they are prescribed by a doctor. However, even prescription medication can have harmful effects when used in a way other than intended.

What are the side effects of using opioids?

Like other medications, opioids may have negative effects, even when used as directed. The short-term effects of using opioids may include:

  • drowsiness,
  • constipation,
  • nausea and vomiting,
  • headaches, dizziness and confusion,
  • euphoria (feeling high), and
  • itching and sweating.
  • decreased sex hormone levels resulting in decreased interest in sex and menstrual irregularities

There are also many dangerous and unpredictable effects which include: increased tolerance to the drug, so that more drug is needed to produce the pain relieving effect and with ongoing use the risk of developing an addiction increases as does the risk of overdose and death.

The decision to use opioids for chronic non cancer pain is one that must be carefully considered as there can be some serious consequences to long term use.  For further background information for people using opioids check out the following video by Dr. Mike Evans.

Need help?

If you or somebody you care about experiences difficulty controlling their use seek professional help.  For resources in your community contact:  Connex Drug and Alcohol Help Line.
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