Narcotic analgesics, or opioids, are prescription-only medications that mimic endorphins, substances produced by the body to control pain.
[MS Contin, Oramorph, Avinza, Kadian, Roxanol (chemical name: morphine); codeine; Dolophine (chemical name: methadone); Opana, Opana ER, Numorpahn HCI (chemical name: oxymorphone); Dilaudid (chemical name: hydromorphone); Levo-Dromoran (chemical name: levorphanol); OxyContin, OxyIR, or Roxicodone (chemical name: oxycodone); Demerol (chemical name: meperidine); Duragesic, Actiq, Fentora, Lazanda CII nasal spray (chemical name: fentanyl)]
Some narcotic analgesics combine an opioid with aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen. [Percodan (chemical name: oxycodone and aspirin), Percocet and Roxicet (chemical name: oxycodone and acetaminophen), Vicodin, Lorcet, and Lortab (chemical name: hydrocodone and acetaminophen)]
Opioids are used to treat acute pain related to surgery and other medical procedures, as well as for chronic and breakthrough pain that is moderate to severe. Chronic pain is usually treated with long-acting opioids that are released into the body slowly and control pain for long periods of time. They are taken around-the-clock on a regular schedule, not “as needed” for pain. If there are episodes of breakthrough pain, a second short-acting opioid may be prescribed as well. Short-acting opioids work more quickly and do not stay in the body for as long a time.
Opioids can be an important part of a chronic pain management regimen. Their use should be monitored closely by the physician as the user may experience tolerance/dependence or addiction. They should not be discontinued abruptly as the user may experience withdrawal. They should not be combined with sedatives, including alcohol, as they depress the respiratory system. The most common side effects are
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Whether you take opioids to manage pain or are the loved one of someone who does…