Habits, Addictions & Alternatives To Opioids
Definitions: *Opiate and opioid are often used interchangeably although that interchange of usage is not precisely accurate. The following would be more correct:
Opiate: A drug (such as morphine, codeine or heroin) containing or derived from opium or the opium poppy, used to alleviate pain, or induce sleep or euphoria.
Opioid: A synthetic or semi-synthetic drug producing an opium-like effect, often prescribed for the alleviation of moderate to severe pain; a prescription painkiller in the opiate class.
By D. S. Mitchell and T.K. McNeil
With drugs, even those considered alternatives to opioids, there is always a risk. Even a “safe” drug such as caffeine. Caffeine is regularly consumed by children, and has had documented negative effects. The same goes for nicotine, deemed for the most part “safe” except when smoked by children. Some of those effects include paranoia, muscle spasms and heart arrhythmia’s. The question becomes how much of a risk is there; and are the positive effects worth the negative risks?
It was in Mesopotamia over 3,500 years ago that farmers in the Southwestern section of the region began extracting the seeds from opium poppies and ingesting them for pain, digestive disorders, sleep and a blissful euphoria. The once wild poppy soon was cultivated for its medicinal properties and its use spread across the world. With no alternatives to opioids, addiction accompanied the spread of opium.
Painkillers Are Controversial
One of the more complicated areas of medicine has been in painkillers. Historically, everything from alcohol administered by mouth, to ether administered by inhalation has been used to reduce or block pain. Particularly in the context of surgery. The surgical suite has limited ability to use alternatives to opioids.
Take Home Medication
Prescription painkiller addiction was long a silent addiction. Over the last two decades, prescription painkiller addiction has become the most common and the most deadly addiction(s) in America. Prescription drug addiction deaths have far outpaced “street drugs” like heroin in overdose deaths in the United States. It has become so serious it is being called a “crisis,” “epidemic” and a “national emergency.” We, as a nation, have to find alternatives to opioids.
One of the most common and successful drugs used for pain-relief is opium. As previously noted, Opium and its related drugs are called opiates while synthetic versions are called opioids. These medications are some of the most effective painkillers on the planet but also the most addictive. Doctors have looked for alternatives to opioids because of these addictive properties.
Sadly, they are also incredibly addictive. It is most effective in the clinical setting for acute, short-term pain. Unfortunately, these medications have moved from the clinical setting to the doctor’s prescription pad and the street chemist’s lab. The unparalleled success of such medications has led to an alarming spike in abuse. With abuse has come an increase in overdoses leading to unprecedented death counts leading to the search for alternatives to opioids.