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These questions were answered by more than 50 individual scientists and science writers with expertise in addiction. To get as many answered as possible, responses were written quickly based on the personal background and knowledge of each expert. Please note that there was not a secondary review or proofreading of each fact, and if readers have questions or comments about any response, they can ask further questions.

You searched for opioids. Showing 1 to 30 of 109 questions.
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What kind of effects do opioids have on your body

-PG, Illinois

Hi Peter,
Opioids can cause weight loss, constipation, itch, slowed breathing, low heart rate to name a few... Slowed heart rate and light breathing happens when people OD on opioids, and can lead to death.

Learn more about opioids on our opioids topic page: https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids

-Dave Thomas

What effects do opioids have on your body?

-chamness_a, Oregon

Opioids attach to receptors in your brain, causing a large amount of dopamine to be released. The release of dopamine into your body can make you feel really relaxed and happy—but it can also cause harmful effects like extreme sleepiness, confusion, nausea, vomiting, and constipation. Over time, opioids can lead to insomnia, muscle pain, heart infections, pneumonia, and addiction. You can learn more about opioids on our opioids topic page: https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids and on our teen site: Opioid Facts for Teens: https://d14rmgtrwzf5a.cloudfront.net/sites/default/files/nida_opioidfactsforteens_brochure_final_web.pdf

-Carlos Blanco

Why are opioids so deadly right now as apposed to other drugs?

-mil506412, Illinois

Hi Mil,
Opioids cause respiratory depression, where one takes less and less air into their lungs when breathing. And if the dose of the opioid is too large, or if the user is also taking something else which produces respiratory depression (for example alcohol or benzodiazepines), breathing can stop. Stop breathing… stop living. And unfortunately, drugs like fentanyl are becoming very available on the streets. Fentanyl is a VERY powerful opioid and taking just a small amount can lead to death.

-Dave Thomas

Whats the difference between opioids and xanax?

-drug education, Illinois

They are diffent type of drugs and act on different parts ("receptors") of the brain. Think of differnt types of switches in a home: while some may be for light, others (e.g. taps) may be for water and yet others for internet. By acting on different switches, they produce different effects. However, all drugs can hijack the brain and get people addicted to them. Different drugs act on the brain in different ways, but they all cause the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain's reward area, which is what causes the pleasurable sensation (the high). After repeated drug use, the brain starts to adjust to the surges of dopamine. This can mean that the person starts to find natural rewards – like food, relationships, or sex – less pleasurable, one of the signs of addiction. Learn more at: https://www.scholastic.com/drugs-and-your-body/brain.htm.

-Carlos Blanco

If opioids are addicting then why do doctors prescribe them?

-DL , New Hampshire

Hi, David. They are prescription drugs for a reason. A clinician can help understand how to use such drugs and how not to use them. If used as directed and prescribed, they can help people some with moderate to severe pain. However, if misused, they can be VERY dangerous. It is also important to keep in mind that in past years, some clinicians have inappropriately prescribed or have prescribed too much, was has also contributed to our opioid crisis. Educating doctors has improved this overprescribing practice as of late and we hope we will continue to see improvements.

-Dave Thomas

Why do people make drugs and expect people not to get addicted? (prescription opioids)

-klaroque, Wisconsin

Hi klaroque,
They are prescription drugs for a reason. A clinician can help understand how to use such drugs and how not to use them. If used as directed and prescribed, they can help people some with moderate to severe pain. However, if misused, they can be VERY dangerous. It is also important to keep in mind that in past years, some clinicians have inappropriately prescribed or have prescribed too much, was has also contributed to our opioid crisis. Educating doctors has improved this overprescribing practice as of late and we hope we will continue to see improvements.

-Suzanne Lim

can marijuana kill you?

-Natalie , New Hampshire

Marijuana doesn't cause overdose death the way that drugs like alcohol or opioids do.

-Emily Einstein

Are there any non-generic (and perhaps even used commonly in areas such as medicine) yet still harmful, drugs that people should know about?

-Astaroth,

Hi Astaroth!
Good question!! Just because a drug is a named-brand prescription does not mean it is safe. A prime example is opioids. Opioids can be safe and effective treatments from pain when prescribed by a clinician and used with caution and as directed. BUT people also misuse prescrition opioids, and they can become addicted, overdose and die.

-Dave Thomas

Which are the most common medicines people can get addiction to?

-Kai,

Medicine? Opioids for sure. We are not sure how many people get addicted to opioids when used as directed for pain. However, when people use these opioid medications other than as prescribed by a doctor, addiction is very possible. And this addiction can lead to the use of illicit opioids like heroin.

-Dave Thomas

Can babies get addicted to drugs?

-Ragazzaprodigio,

Hey Rag!
No, not really. Babies cannot get addicted. Addiction is compulsive use despite harm. Babies to not compulsively use drugs. However, if babies are born to mothers that use opioids, they can be born with dependence on opioids, meaning they will go through physical withdraw without opioids. This is a very sad situation, and we are trying to find ways to help these babies.

-Dave Thomas

CAN YOU DIE IN ONE DAY FOR TAKING DRUGS

-Javares-FVSU4h, Georgia

Yes--depends on the drug, but many of them slow or stop your breathing (e.g., opioids like heroin or fentanyl, alcohol, sedatives like valium).

-Susan Weiss

What are percocets and what do they do

-Superdood, Illinois

Hi Superdood,
Percocets are prescriptions opioids used in the treatment of pain. They should only be used when prescribed by a clinician as directed.

-Roger Sorensen

how bad is heroin?

-Garfield , Illinois

Hi Garfield,
Bad, very bad. Heroin is an opioid. While some opioids can be used to treat moderate to severe pain, opioids are also abused. Almost 50,000 Americans died from opioid overdoses in 2017 alone! And heroin is a big part of this!

-Dave Thomas

What are the affects of codeine?

-Bluefacebaby, Washington

Hey Babyfaceblue. Interesting name. A little disturbing, but interesting...
As for codeine, it's an opioid, and like other prescription opioids, its typically used for the treatment of pain. It is weak, relative to other opioids, and is sometimes prescribed to treat low to moderate levels of pain.

-Bethany Deeds

what consequences can self-medicate have in an excessive way?

-lc,

HI IC,
Self-medication is dangerous with many drugs, especially opioids (such as Oxycontin)and stimulants (such as Aderall), which can be very harmful to health or (in the case of opioids) even fatal in the short term, and can cause dependence in the long term.

-Dave Thomas

Why is Big Pharma trying to make us addicted to opiods?

-DS, Illinois

Hey Donny,
It is likely not that simple. Big pharma makes prescrition opioids and they are addictive. But if used properly, they can also help people in moderate to sever pain. Thus we still need opioids, but we need to use them smarter.

-Dave Thomas

Whats more harmful for your body. Overdosing on pills or smoking pot

-Big Daddy , Illinois

XHey Big Daddy!
Opioids are very dangerous, and overdosing on opioids is killing tens of thousands of Americans each year. While overdosing on marijuana can produce severe and uncomfortable physcal and psychological effects, I do not know of people dying from this.

-Dave Thomas

how dangerous are opiods, they get prescribed by doctors, right

-not el chapo, Illinois

Great question! All drugs can be dangerous - it depends on several things, including how you take them and how much you take. Opioids attach to receptors in your brain, causing a large amount of a neurochemical called dopamine to be released. The release of dopamine into your body can make you feel relaxed and pain-free. This is why opioids are important in the treatment of intense pain, for example. Doctors prescribe opioids when it is appropriate for the treatment of the problem their patient is experiencing. However, misuse or overuse of opioids can cause harmful effects like extreme sleepiness, confusion, nausea, vomiting, and constipation. Over time, opioid use can lead to insomnia, muscle pain, heart infections, pneumonia, and addiction. It is important to take medications like opioids only under the direction of health care provider and in the way they prescribe them. For more, visit: https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids/opioid-overdose-crisis.

-Michelle Jobes

has anybody ever died by ONLY smoking marijuana?

-g, Illinois

Hey g. Marijuana doesn't cause overdose death the way that drugs like alcohol or opioids do. Marijuana-related deaths are most likely to be the result of injuries, car accidents, etc.

-Heather Kimmel

can you overdose on pain meds

-michaela poliqu, New Hampshire

Hi Mich,
Yes, especially prescription opioids, especially if one takes too much or in combination with things like alcohol or benzodiazepines. They are medicine but are also dangerous...

-Dave Thomas

how fast can a drug kill you

-tommy, Montana

Hi Tommy, can you hear me? Just kidding. Very old joke...

Well anyway, opioids can kill a person very quickly. They can stop a person from breathing. Once breathing stops, death is minutes away!

-Roger Little

how many weed related deaths has there been?

-chamness_a, Oregon

Marijuana doesn't cause overdose death the way that drugs like alcohol or opioids do, so we don't have a good count of weed-related deaths. These are most likely to be the result of injuries, car accidents, etc.

-Emily Einstein

how many deaths have been caused by marijuana

-joseph childers, New Hampshire

Marijuana doesn't cause overdose death the way that drugs like alcohol and opioids do, but people can overdose on it and end up in the hsopital, especially when THC levels are high.

-Emily Einstein

is lean an opioid?

-Grady, Illinois

Hey Grady,
I had to Google this. I had never heard of lean. Looks like its a drink that people sometimes make that includes drugs, including opioids. Sounds gross and dangerous.

-Dave Thomas

What drug is the most expensive

-fORTNITEpRO, Illinois

Hmm, that is a good question. Prescription drugs cost a lot on the streets. If they are not the most expensive, they are up there. And opioids can cost you your life, and that is expensive.

-Dave Thomas

What is the most addictive drug?

-mpapa, New Jersey

Hi mpapa, it would be impossible to answer for a specific person since addictiveness depends on many factors. Overall, some of the most addictive drugs are nicotine, opioids and meth.

-Emily Jones

how many people overdose in one year

-AB, New Hampshire

Over all drugs, more than 70,000 people die in 2017 from drug overdoses. Data also shows that overdoses of synthetic drugs, (like fentanyl) are driving the sharp increases in opioid overdose deaths too. If you think about it-- drug overdoses killed more Americans last year than the Vietnam War. See our page about the opioid overdose crisis: https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids/opioid-overdose-crisis

-Steve Grant

what is the diference between perscripton drugs and drugs?

-IDONTKNOW, Oregon

Hi IDONTKNOW. Don't I know you IDONTKNOW?
Drugs that require a prescription tend to be drugs that need more care in how they taken and more care in who they are given to. Thus you want a doctor involved to help the patient get the right drug and take it correctly. Take opioids for example. They can be effective for pain, but they also are dangerous. Thus, you need to get a prescrition for opioids from a clinicians.

-Suzanne Lim

what is the most illegal drug?

-pipoperez,

Hi pipoperez! Many drugs are illegal, and some are even watched carefully by the Drug Enforcement Administration because the chances of misusing them and getting addicted are so high. Some drugs, such as fentanyl, are very dangerous, but can be used safely in medical settings with close supervision. But fentanyl used outside medical settings is a big driver of overdose deaths. More info here: https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/opioids/fentanyl.html

-Emily Jones

WHAT is in prescirption a drugs that cause a person to become addicted to them why do

-Angela-FVSU4H, Georgia

Different perscription drugs contain different compounds. Not all perscription drugs are addiciting. One of the biggest problems today is persciption drugs that contain opioids (e.g., oxycodone, hydrocodone). Opioids attach to receptors in your brain, causing many effects including a large amount of dopamine to be released. The release of dopamine into your body can make you feel really relaxed and happy—but it can also cause harmful effects like extreme sleepiness, confusion, nausea, vomiting, and constipation. Over time, opioids can lead to insomnia, muscle pain, heart infections, pneumonia, and addiction. Other perscription drugs that can be addiciting are benzodiazepines (e.g., valium). Benzodiazapines act in a different way than opioids (they act on the neurotransmitter GABA), but they can also be addicting.lead to insomnia, muscle pain, heart infections, pneumonia, and addiction. Other perscription drugs that can be addiciting are benzodiazepines (e.g., valium). Benzodiazapines act in a different way than opiods (they act on the neurotransmitter GABA), but they can also be addicting.

-Kurt Rasmussen

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