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 What is Opioid?

Opioids are a broad group of pain-relieving medicines that work with your brain cells. Opioids can be made from the poppy plant — for example, morphine (Duramorph, MS Contin, others). Or opioids can be made in a laboratory — for example, fentanyl (Actiq and Fentora).

Opioids work by binding to opioid receptors, which are part of the messenger system in our body that controls pain, and pleasurable and addictive behaviors. Opioid receptors are more abundant in the brain and spinal cord but are also located elsewhere in the body such as the stomach and the lungs. The main opioid receptor that opioids bind to is the mu receptor.

What are opioid analgesics used for?

In the past, opioid analgesics have been used for all types of pain, which may explain why there are so many.

Opioid analgesics are one of the most widely used analgesics for pain relief; however, they have been overused, overprescribed, and misused which has resulted people in the U.S. alone having a substance misuse disorder involving prescription opioid analgesics.

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