10 Jan How do Opioids Work?
In October 2017, the President declared the opioids epidemic a national health crisis. At Integrated Pain Consultants, alternative therapies are almost always encouraged before opioid treatment. Opioids are a powerful narcotic that do a great job at treating a myriad of pains, but they’re also highly addictive and linked to numerous overdoses (and even deaths) each year. But how do opioids work, and why do they work so well?
Types of Opioids
There are many types of opioids, but one of the most well-known is morphine. All opioids work by attaching to brain receptors. Once they attach, they send a signal to the brain known as the “opioid effect.” Not only does this block pain (sometimes completely), but it also slows breath rate, lifts depression, and generally makes the person feel good. The body has natural opioids within it, but not nearly enough to stop the chronic or severe pain. The body also can’t produce enough natural opioids to lead to an overdose.
How Opioids Work
This showcases that just because something might occur naturally in the body, it doesn’t always make it safe. There’s definitely too much of a good thing with opioids, which is why they should only be reserved for a small number of patients with chronic pain. Most patients are best suited for opioid treatment for short-term, intense pain (such as surgery recovery) and if they have no history of addiction.
Opioids act somewhat like a natural neurotransmitter in the body. They mimic brain chemicals, but they can’t activate the nerve cells as natural neurotransmitters do. Ultimately, this means abnormal messages are being sent around the body.
Opioids allow the brain’s reward system to be flooded with dopamine. Dopamine, a natural neurotransmitter, is the feel-good agent that helps with our emotions, motivation, pleasure, cognition, and even movement. However, if our reward system gets overstimulated, it can lead to sheer euphoria. That’s when the risk of addiction skyrockets.
Contact Integrated Pain Consultants For Medication Management
Humans tend to repeat what we like and what feels good. That’s the job of the reward system: To let us know when something feels good. However, with opioids, that can be dangerous. To find out more about safe opioid treatment and alternative therapies, schedule an online appointment with Integrated Pain Consultants – 480-626-2552. We also invite you to learn more about Dr. Nikesh Seth and other providers including Dr. Anne-Marie Cosijns, Dr. Lisa Sparks, Dr. Michael Givens, and our team of Nurse Practitioners.