There's a little spot in your brain, which contain a few hundred cells. These cell's regulate your breathing. This is where opiates interfere with your breathing mechanisms and slows it down, often slowing it down way to much causing death from respiratory arrest.
Opioid is an opium like compound that binds two or more of the three opioid receptors of the body and are potentially habit forming. People build up an increased tolerance to them despite their harmful consequences making physical withdrawal almost impossible. Today, opioids kill more people than breast cancer.
So, you've taken a prescribed painkiller containing opioid for back pain. Opioid is a psychoactive drug coming from the opium poppy or derived from synthetics (morphine, heroin, fentanyl, tramadol, oxycodone and methadone). At first, the drug goes to your brain easing the pain then it relaxes you, another bonus of opioid is, it gives you some anti-depressing effects as an added bonus.
With the right combination of opioid your breathing is slowed. In a wrong combination, say in high doses or taken with alcohol or some other sedating drugs your breathing becomes non-existent and lethal, making you go to sleep to the point of making it impossible to be awakened. The same opioid found in some painkillers is the same as in heroin.
Alarmingly, worldwide 15 million people are opioid dependent (addicted) and about 70,000 people die each year from an opioid overdose. 80% of people taking painkillers for sleep apnea don't even realize they have a breathing problem. People who take opioid are not as careful as they should be, often abusing alcohol and other drugs as well as opioid, a deadly combination. Sleeping pills on top of opioid spells disaster.
There are effective treatments for opioid addiction yet only 10% of sufferers receive it. Naloxone, (an antidote though not a replacement for comprehensive medical care), reverses the effects of overdosing and prevents deaths. The symptoms of an opioid overdose are pinpoint pupils, unconsciousness and respiratory depression.
In the future, after more clinical trials have to be done to understand how opioid interacts with the brain, scientists and researchers will hopefully find new drugs that can be prescribed with painkillers to prevent negative breathing effects, saving thousands of lives every year.
Risky factors include; a history of substance abuse, high prescribed dosages, being male and older, your mental condition, other drugs and how you fit on the socioeconomic scale.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends restricting opiate management to acute and cancer pain but within the last few years opioid have been prescribed for non-cancer pain such as back pain.
The outlook nationwide isn't very good. Rates of overdosing have risen significantly, now a national emergency and in the ages of people 25 to 54, it's showing no signs of abating.
Heaven help those addicted to the scourge of Opioid.
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