What Are Synthetic Opioids?
Synthetic Opioids is a general term for man-made drugs that simulate the effects that Opioids have on the body. They are usually created for the treatment of severe pain, to surpass the limitations on natural and semi-natural Opioids. However, more and more Synthetic Opioids are being produced illegally by Drug Trafficking Organizations, (DTOs).
What Are Synthetic Opioids?
Opioids get their name from Opium, a flower that produces numbing and euphoria in people. Inside Opium are several natural components that have each been studied and harnessed to produce new medications. Synthetic Opioids, or Novel Synthetic Opioids, are drugs that were made in a lab to simulate the effects that natural Opioids have on the brain. While this category can include certain Prescription Opioids, like Methadone, it also includes Schedule I substances produced in illegal labs, such as Fentanyl-analogues.
Common Synthetic Opioids
The creation of a Synthetic Opioids is usually meant from a good place. Pharmaceutical companies are constantly striving to make a medication that can be used while minimizing the side effects. Unfortunately, when a new chemical structure that can be made from inexpensive ingredients is discovered, it will not be long before others find ways to produce it on their own. Popular Synthetic Opioids are:
- Tramadol, a relatively weak Opioid in comparison to Morphine, is typically prescribed after injury. The only Opioid that is a Schedule IV narcotic under the DEA, this means that it has a low risk of addiction. However, like any drug, it carries a greater risk of addiction the longer it is used.
- Methadone is a Prescription Opioid primarily used to treat symptoms of withdrawal from Heroin addiction. Its use must be closely monitored, however, as its potency can make it highly addictive; especially for those who are already recovering from another addiction.
- Meperidine (Demerol)
- Meperidine, commonly sold as the brand Demerol, is a Synthetic Opioid 7 to 8 times stronger than Morphine. While it can be used to treat moderate-to-severe pain, it is primarily used when there is a rapid change in someone’s condition, like spikes in pain and temperature. It is not to be used in the long-term.
- Propoxyphene was originally put on the market as an alternative to Codeine. However, despite its low strength, it was found to be triggering irregular heart effects and potential cardiac arrest. This forced the FDA to ban it from the market.
- Fentanyl has garnered a lot of attention in the news lately, partially due to its growing prevalence across the country, and also due to its strength over other Opioids. Fentanyl can be 100 times stronger than Morphine, and 50 to 80 times stronger than Heroin, making it highly lethal. Its synthetic structure, however, has made it easy to replicate and alter, creating a flood of Fentanyl onto the streets, mixed with other drugs.
- Carfentanil is another Synthetic Opioid that is highly lethal. Up to 10,000 times more potent than Morphine, Carfentanil is used as an elephant tranquilizer. While the idea of such a potent Opioid may sound alluring, its strength means there is no safe amount to take. Even a milligram of the substance can trigger an overdose and kill them.
Clandestine Synthetic Opioids
Fentanyl has become a large family of illicit analogues that dealers sell as “designer drugs” or under the guise of other, more natural Opioids. This is causing an unprecedented number of Opioid overdoses. People all across the country are dying from substances that they believe to be Heroin or Oxycodone but are actually cut with Fentanyl.
How Dangerous Are Synthetic Opioids?
It is not fair to say that all Synthetic Opioids are dangerous. Being that most are still used as modern medicine, there are legitimate uses for many of them. People suffering from severe pain often don’t have another choice. However, it can be said, with utmost certainty, that any Opioid that can be purchased on the street is not safe to use. There is no assurance that what you would buy are legitimate medications, or even the drug that the dealers claim they are.
The current spike in Opioid-related deaths is greatly due to the number of Synthetic Opioids that dealers are creating to cut costs. However, it also means that many people don’t know what they are taking. In fact, more and more users out there are utilizing Fentanyl test kits to determine if what they are taking is actually the drug they asked for. Unfortunately, there are still many out there who don’t realize the dangers that drugs like Fentanyl and Carfentanil pose to them. To be clear on the subject, there is no safe amount of Fentanyl or Carfentanil to take. These drugs are incredibly potent and more and more are dying of overdose before an EMT can even get to them.
Talking About Synthetic Opioids
It’s an unfortunate fact, but more and more people today are inadvertently becoming addicted to Opioids, especially in the case of Synthetic Opioids. More and more people who are trying to manage severe pain, suffer from the euphoric draw of potent substances. People who suffered severe harm and trauma are more likely to feel the pull of addiction, as they are looking for ways to manage pain that they feel in day-to-day life. Then, as they finally realize that they might be suffering from an addiction, they are so ashamed by the stigma that that carries that they can’t come forward. No matter what side of it you’re on, suffering from addiction or knowing someone who is, talking about it is often the best way to clear the air and get the help you need. If you don’t know how to start that conversation though, think about these questions:
- How long has this addiction lasted?
- How is the addiction hurting those around me?
- How did the addiction start?
- How is my drug use affecting my work, home or school responsibilities?
- What substance is the addiction to?
- How has my drug use affected my health psychologically and/or physically?
- What can be done to combat the addiction?
Finding Help for Synthetic Opioid Addiction
Finding the root of the addiction is often the first step to combatting it. Unfortunately, many view an addiction as something they don’t need to quit right away. Something they can keep putting off for a few days or weeks and wean themselves off. That is the addiction talking. Someone trying to wean themselves off over time can have catastrophic results. The best thing that can be done, is speaking openly and asking for help.