What is an Opioid?
Opioids are substances that produce similar effects and bind to the same receptor sites as morphine. Created to anesthetize and for pain relief, opioids were sought after for the euphoric feeling they produce. Opioids are man-made chemicals used for pain relief. They can come in many forms and can be administered in a variety of ways, such as orally, nasally, intravenously and can even be smoked. The most commonly abused opioid in the world is hydrocodone, more commonly known under the brand name of Vicodin. The fact that hydrocodone is the most prescribed opioid across the globe would account for the amount of people who abuse prescription Vicodin. All opioids have potential to become habit forming when the drug is abused. While prescription painkillers are the most abused form of opioids available, there is a greater concern to those who are buying drugs off the street. Those who become addicted to opioid prescription painkillers are also at risk of becoming addicted to heroin. Many who start off addicted to painkillers eventually begin using heroin as it is cheaper and a more potent high. A problem arises in this situation. The problem is that a vast majority of heroin sold on the street today is cut with an opioid known as fentanyl. Fentanyl is 100 times stronger than morphine and 50 times stronger than heroin. The risk of opioid overdose is huge when mixing such powerful respiratory depressants. If that were not bad enough, in recent years heroin has begun being cut or outright replaced with carfentanil. Carfentanil is used in a veterinary setting as anesthesia for large animals, such as elephants. The drug dealers that are selling these drugs have no regard for their customers. They use powerful opioids such as fentanyl and carfentanil because they are cheaper and easier to obtain than pure heroin. These synthetic opioids are so powerful that they can send an individual into overdose in such small quantities, resulting in respiratory arrest and eventually death.