Opioid dependence – (A Detailed Overview)

This guide will give an insight to the effects of a natural, semi-synthetic and synthetic compound, Opioid.

Followed by the effects of these compounds, dependence on opioid and its classification. 


Opioids are natural, synthetic or semi-synthetic substances with effects similar to that of morphine.

They are usually divided into different categories, based on their chemical composition.

Clinically this helps identify opioids that have a higher chance of cross-sensitivity in a patient with an allergy to a particular opioid.

All opioids act by binding to opioid receptors in the CNS to produce effects that mimic the action of endogenous peptide neurotransmitters.

Although the opioids have a broad range of impact, their primary use is to relieve intense pain, whether the pain results from surgery, injury, or chronic disease.

Unfortunately, widespread availability of opioids has led to abuse of those agents with euphoric properties.

Antagonists that reverse the effect of opioids are also clinically crucial for use in cases of overdose.

Narcotics, some of the time called opiates, are a kind of medication.

They incorporate reliable solution torment relievers, for example, oxycodone, hydrocodone, fentanyl, and tramadol. The illicit medication heroin is likewise a narcotic.

Some narcotics are produced using the opium plant, and others are engineered (human-made).

A specialist may give you a remedy narcotic to decrease torment after you have had significant damage or medical procedure.

You may get them on the off chance that you have severe pain from wellbeing conditions like a malignant growth.

A few specialists endorse them for chronic pain.

Management of pain is one of clinical medicine’s most significant challenges.

Anxiety is defined as a sensation that can either be acute or chronic and is a consequence of complex neurochemical processes in the peripheral and central nervous system (CNS).

It is subjective, and the clinician must rely on the patient’s perception and description of pain.

Increase in pain depends on the specific type of pain, nociceptive, or neuropathic shock.

For example, with mild to moderate arthritic pain (nociceptive pain), non-opioid analgesics such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents (NSAIDs) are often useful.

However, for chronic malignant or acute anxiety, opioids are considered part of the treatment plan in select patients. 


Opioids are classified into three categories, natural, semi-synthetic and synthetic

Natural opiates include:

  • Morphine
  • Codeine 

Semi-synthetic opioids include:

  • Hydromorphone
  • Hydrocodone
  • Oxycodone
  • Oxymorphone

Synthetic opioids include:

  • Fentanyl
  • Meperidine
  • Methadone
  • Tapentadol
  • Tramadol 
Opioid dependence - (A Detailed Overview)

Understanding Addiction & Dependence

Addiction is a disease that influences your cerebrum and your conduct.

From the start, you have authority over your decision to begin utilizing drugs.

On the off chance that you abuse a medication, its pleasurable impact, in the end, makes you need to continue using it.

After some time, your mind changes in specific ways with the goal that you build up a fantastic desire to utilize the medication.

Drug dependence is the point at which how your body works changes since you have taken a medication for quite a while.

These progressions cause you to have withdrawal side effects when you quit utilizing the drug.

Withdrawal side effects can be gentle or severe, and may include:

  • Sweating
  • nausea or vomiting
  • chills 
  • diarrhea 
  • shaking 
  • agitation 
  • misery 
  • sleep deprivation 
  • weakness 

If you have been taking medicine opioid for quite a while, work with your doctor.

Your doctor can assist you with maintaining a strategic distance from withdrawal manifestations by bit by bit bringing down your portion after some time until you never again need the medication.

Dependence is a typical piece of taking any opioid medication for quite a while.

You can be tolerant of, or subject to, prescription and not yet be dependent on it.

Addiction, in any case, isn’t typical. It is an ailment. You are addicted to a medication when it appears that neither your body nor your psyche can work without the prescription.

Addiction makes you fanatically search out the drug, in any event, when the medication use causes conduct, wellbeing, or relationship issues.


Opioid addiction or dependence is characterized by a powerful, compulsive urge which is developed in patients, and they use opioid drugs excessively, even when they are no longer required to use them medically or therapeutically. 

Opioids have a high potential in causing addiction in some people, even when the medications are prescribed appropriately and taken as directed.

Pathophysiology of opioid dependence can cause some severe effects, including a series of autonomic, motor, and psychological responses that incapacitate the individual.

Opioid dependence is portrayed by an incredible desire to utilize opioid medications, in any event, when they are not required therapeutically.

Opioids have a high potential for causing dependence in specific individuals, in any event, when the medications are endorsed fittingly and taken as coordinated. 

Numerous remedy opioids are abused or occupied by other people.

People who are dependent may organize getting and utilizing these medications over different exercises in their lives, frequently contrarily affecting their expert and individual connections.

It is still not known why a few people are bound to get dependent on others.   

Opioids change the chemistry of the mind and lead to drug resilience, which implies that after some time, the dose should be increased to accomplish a similar impact.

When you are taking opioids over a significant period, it is likely to produce reliance to such an extent that when individuals quit taking the medication they experience physical and mental manifestations of withdrawal (for example, muscle cramping, loose bowels, and tension). 

Dependence isn’t a similar thing as addiction; although everybody who takes opioids for an all-encompassing period will get needy, just a little rate additionally experience the habitual, proceeding with the requirement for the medication that describes enslavement. 

Opioid addiction can cause perilous medical issues, including the danger of overdose.

An overdose happens when high doses of narcotics cause breathing to slow or quit, prompting obviousness and demise if the overdose isn’t dealt with right away.


The initial move toward recovery from opioid addiction or dependence is to start perceiving that you have an issue with opioids.

The signs and side effects of substance misuse can be physical, social, and mental.

One clear indication of dependence doesn’t have the option to quit utilizing the substance.

It is additionally not having the opportunity to prevent yourself from using more than the suggested amount. 

Different signs and side effects of narcotic maltreatment include: 

  • poor coordination 
  • drowsiness
  • shallow or slow breathing rate 
  • vomiting, nausea
  • obstruction or constipation
  • physical tumult 
  • poor or basic decision making
  • forsaking responsibilities
  • slurred speech
  • resting pretty much than ordinary 
  • state of mind swings 
  • euphoria (feeling high) 
  • depression
  • lowered inspiration 
  • anxiety attacks


The significant effects of opioids are mediated by three receptor families, such as kappa, mu and delta.

Each receptor family shows a different specificity for the drugs it binds.

The analgesic properties of opioids are primarily mediated by the mu receptors that modulate responses to thermal, mechanical, and chemical nociception. 

The kappa receptors in the dorsal horn also contribute to analgesia by modulating the response to chemical and thermal nociception.

Opioid drugs change your mind by making fake endorphins. Other than blocking pain, these endorphins make you feel better. 

An excessive amount of opioid use can make your brain excessively dependent on these counterfeit endorphins.

When your brain does this, it can even quit delivering its endorphins. The more you use narcotics, the almost certain this is to occur.

You likewise will require more drugs after some time on account of medication resistance.


Management for opioid dependence is diverse for every individual.

The primary objective of treatment is to assist you with stop utilizing the medication.

Management likewise can help you with abstaining from using it again later on.

At the point when you quit utilizing opioids, your body will respond. You will have various manifestations that may incorporate sickness and retching, stomach agony, and uneasiness.

This response is called withdrawal. 

Your doctor can recommend certain medications to help alleviate your withdrawal side effects when you quit utilizing opioids.

They additionally will help control your desires.

These medications incorporate methadone (frequently used to treat heroin habit), buprenorphine, and naltrexone.

Methadone and buprenorphine help lessen withdrawal symptoms by focusing on similar focuses in the cerebrum that narcotics target.

Just don’t make you feel high. They help reestablish harmony to your mind and enable it to recuperate.

As indicated by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), you may securely take the medications for a long time, in any event, for a lifetime.

You ought not to quit them without first telling your primary care physician. 

Naltrexone is another drug your doctor may prescribe.

Suboxone can also be used if prescribed.

This prescription doesn’t assist you to stop taking opioids. It is for keeping you from backsliding.

Backsliding intends to begin taking opioids once more. This medication is unique about methadone and buprenorphine because it doesn’t help with longings or withdrawal.

Instead, as per NIH, it keeps you from feeling the high you would regularly feel when you take opioids. 

These medications can help with your physical expansion to opioids.

Be that as it may, you may likewise require help with your psychological or passionate extension to opioids.

By conducting these medicines, you can try figuring it out on how to oversee sadness.

These medicines additionally assist you with keeping away from opioids, manage yearnings, and mend harmed connections.

Some Helpful Resources

  1. Opioid Dependence: A Clinical and Epidemiologic Approach
  2. Methadone Treatment for Opioid Dependence
  3. Pediatric Collections: Opioid Addiction
  4. Pharmacotherapies for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence: Efficacy, Cost-Effectiveness and Implementation Guidelines
  5. The Addiction Solution: Treating Our Dependence on Opioids and Other Drugs


Opioids are natural, semi-synthetic, synthetic drugs that are used for the management of both acute and chronic pain, but its dependence or addiction could occur, and it could lead to hazardous life-threatening side effects.

Side Note: I have tried and tested various products and services to help with my anxiety and depression. See my top recommendations here, as well as a full list of all products and services our team has tested for various mental health conditions and general wellness.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What is Opioid dependence?

It is a chronic and long-lasting, resistive condition (ailment) that may generate several social, economic, physiological and psychological issues. 

Q2. What are the symptoms of opioid dependence?

Some of the symptoms include, drowsiness, shallow or slow breathing rate, vomiting, nausea, poor decision making, forsaking responsibilities, euphoria etc.

Q3. Is opioid dependence preventable?

Numerous individuals can utilize opioids securely without getting dependent or addicted to them.

However, their potential for dependence is high. 

Q4. How long is it recommended to use opioid medications for pain management?

It is particularly problematic if you use them for long term pain management.

You are bound to dodge dependence on the off chance that you can utilize opioid medications no longer than seven days.

Research shows that using them beyond a month can make you reliant or dependent on them. 

Q5. What is opioid overdose?

When some take a higher dosage of opioids, it may result in an overdose that would make the breathing to be slowed down or stopped altogether.

This may sometimes be fatal. 

Q6. What are opioids?

They belong to a specific drug-category, including heroin (illegal) and opioid pain-relievers (used for pharmaceutical purposes). 


Opioid misuse and addiction

Treatment of opioid misuse and addiction

Genetics reference to opioid addiction

Information about opioid abuse and how to get rid of it

Signs and symptoms of opioid abuse