Opioids are substances that are used as painkillers and anesthesia because it produces morphine-like effects. The opioids are classified into five major classifications which are natural opiates, endogenous, fully synthetic, esters of morphine, and semi-synthetic opioids. Natural opiates include mitragyna speciose leaves and Delta receptors while endogenous opioids include morphine and other small opioids like endorphins produced naturally in the body. Fully synthetic opioids include tramadol, levorphanol, and fentanyl while semi-synthetic opioids include substances formed by morphine esters and natural opiates such as hydromorphone and oxymorphone (Buenaventura, Rajive & Nalini, 2008). Esters of morphine, on the other hand, are chemically altered substances that include nicomorphine, dibenzolymorphine, and diacetylmorphine.
These drugs have been given street names to hide their identity since most are illegal. Heroin which falls under esters of morphine is commonly referred in streets as black tar, brown sugar, or China Whitehorse. Opium which is natural opiate from the poppy plant has several slang names such as black stuff, Dover's powder or big O. Similarly, morphine under the endogenous opioids are referred as a monkey, dreamer or Miss Emma. Semi-synthetic opioids also have unique streets names. For example, codeine is referred to schoolboy or cough syrup, oxycodone named oxycet while hydrocodone named as Norco or viko. Lastly, fentanyl which is a fully synthetic opioid is mostly referred to China girl, murder 8 or tango.
Opioids have adverse impacts on the human nervous system. Natural opiates lower the level of consciousness and results to sedation and drowsiness of the individual. It also influences neurons activity other parts of the brain. Esters of morphine such as heroin have long-term effects like a memory lapse, irrational thinking or lack of impulse control. Semi-synthetic opioids regulate moods, stabilize emotions, and depression and insomnia if used excessively. Fully synthetic opioids, on the other hand, modifies the pain signals between brain and nerves and raises brain level of neurotransmitters (Kolodny et al., 2015). Ultimately, it reduces pain and causes dizziness and elated mood. Lastly, endogenous opioids bind brain's opiate receptors and alter its neurochemical activity which makes the victim have depressed consciousness and elevated mood (Buenaventura et al., 2008).
Opioids drugs vary depending on color, shape, and smell. Natural opiates such as morphine sulfate are round shaped tablets that range from orange to green color and they taste extremely bitter. Endogenous opiates are liquid chemicals with no specific color or shape which commonly have lavender and vanilla smell. Fully synthetic opioids are in the form of tablets, lollipop or film in the mouth. Most of them are white with different shapes, and they taste like vinegar. Semi-synthetic opioids are mostly red oval tablets which have an unpleasant and bitter smell. Esters of morphine are a white and fine powder which are either black or brown. They are odorless but have vinegar smell when diluted (Kolodny et al., 2015).
Nonetheless, these classes of opioids have different psychological, sociological, and economic effects. Firstly, people consume natural opiates such as opium with the aim of relieving pain and increase energy and other medicinal use. However, they are harmful because they cause respiratory difficulties, brain damage and lung edema. Too much consumption causes addiction which results to use of too much money and stigma in the society. Endogenous opiates such as endorphins are desired to minimize pain signals in the body and produce euphoria feeling. When endorphins are low in the body, it leads to depression and chronic headaches and subsequent loss of money in regulating them. Just like endogenous opiates, the esters of morphine opiates are used to relieve chronic pain and enhance feelings of pleasure. Higher doses can, however, result in reduced appetite, drowsiness and confusion (Buenaventura et al., 2008). The victim will spend more money and time looking for it.
Similarly, both fully and semi-synthetic opioids have different impacts on the human body. People consume fully synthetic opioid-like tramadol with the intention of treating severe pain. They, however, experience adverse effects such as breathing problems, metabolic disorders, and stomach illness. As a result, it affects socio-economic activities of the victims who mostly spend a significant amount of money for treatment. Semi-synthetic opioids, on the other hand, is desired to relieve pain and ease apprehension (Kolodny et al., 2015). However, their overdose causes vomiting, dizziness and constipation and sometimes death can occur. The victim becomes ill and thus being socially affected as well as affected his or her job and income.
Notwithstanding, the withdrawal process of these drugs is so problematic depending on the addiction stages. Esters of morphine opioids is much more difficult because it produces significant withdrawal symptoms. These include muscle cramping, agitation, and opiate cravings. Natural opiates cause anxiety and nausea during withdrawal process and can be life-threatening if not assisted by a medical doctor. Likewise, endogenous opioids withdrawal process is characterized by trauma, physical injuries, and restlessness. The victim also experiences tension and headaches during early stages of withdrawal. The withdrawal process of both fully and semi-synthetic opiates is intense and severe. In many instances, the victim will experience sleeping problems, running nose, lacrimation, and muscles aches. After some time, the person will have blurry vision, rapid heartbeat and high blood pressure (Buenaventura et al., 2008).
Kolodny, A., Courtwright, D. T., Hwang, C. S., Kreiner, P., Eadie, J. L., Clark, T. W., & Alexander, G. C. (2015). The prescription opioid and heroin crisis: a public health approach to an epidemic of addiction. Annual review of public health, 36, 559-574.
Ricardo Buenaventura, M., Rajive Adlaka, M., & Nalini Sehgal, M. (2008). Opioid complications and side effects. Pain physician, 11, 105-S120.
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