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Opioid drugs

opiod drugs

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About opioids

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Medicines for Pain


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These medicines have been around for over three thousand years. . They are usually thought of as either weak or strong (see some examples below)

 Weak Opioids                                               Strong Opioids

      Codeine                                                Morphine

 Di-Hydrocodeine                                         Fentanyl



Weak Opioids

Usually weak opioids are prescribed for mild pain. Codeine is often prescribed with Paracetamol which can improve its pain relief. Codeine is actually changed by the liver into small doses of morphine which gives its effect. About one in ten people in the UK can’t convert Codeine in this way (because they don’t have the chemical necessary in the liver), so Codeine does not work for them.

Strong Opioids

Strong opioids are used to treat moderate to severe pain. Up until fairly recently this was either resulting from surgery, injury or cancer, but now strong opioids are increasingly being used to treat chronic pain. The most common strong opioid is Morphine, which is found in some types of poppy plant. The plant is collected, refined and made into medicine.  Most of the other strong opioids are either a variation of morphine (semi-synthetic) or made from scratch (fully synthetic). This is important as they behave differently in the body  depending on how they are made. Some are able to be put into a patch (which gradually dissolves the drug through the skin), and some need to be taken by mouth or injection.

Opioid Drugs (pronounced: oh-pee-oyd)