The Opioid Crisis
WHAT ARE OPIOIDS?
Opioids are a class of drugs naturally found in the opium poppy plant and that work in the brain to produce a variety of effects, including the relief of pain with many of these drugs. Opioids can be prescription medications often referred to as painkillers, or they can be so-called street drugs.
Examples of Opioids:
Morphine and Codeine (naturally occurring opioids)
Oxycodone, hydrocodone, etc. (manufactured opioids)
Fentanyl (manufactured opioids, synthetic pain reliever used to treat severe pain)
Heroin (illicit opioids-"street drugs")
HOW DO OPIOIDS WORK?
Upon intake, opioids interact with the opioid receptors in the brain to induce various physiological responses including pain relief. Opioids can also simulate the reward pathway in the brain causing a feeling of happiness or euphoria, thus making opioids addictive to some people. Over time, people who use opioids develop a physical dependence on the drug meaning people will experience withdrawal symptoms if they stop taking opioids. At this point, people continue to take opioids to put an end to their withdrawal symptoms.
Real Life Stories:
How to recognize an overdose:
If you suspect someone is experiencing an opioid overdose immediately consider the following actions to save their life:
Signs of an overdose:
Unresponsiveness or unconsciousness
Small, constricted "pinpoint pupils"
Slowed or stopped breathing
Pale, blue, or cold skin
"To Beat The Opioid Crisis,
We Must Change The Rules Of The Game"