Many drugs can affect how people feel, such as making them sleepy, sick, or altering the brain. One of the most dangerous categories of drugs is opioids, which includes both prescription and street drugs. Before taking an opioid, you should know which drugs they are and opioids effect on the brain.

The Features of Opioids Effect

Four Bottles of Opioids with Capsules Scattered

Image: CC by 2.0, K-State Research and Extension, via Flickr

Opioids come as a classification of drugs that include illicit street and prescription drugs. They include opiates, which are a product of the flowering poppy plant, and opioids. This includes opiates and other substances.

They may be man-made or natural, but opioids bind to receptors in the brain that react to them. These receptors help control pain, rewards, and addiction. So, while all opiates are opioids, if they are synthetic, they are not opiates.

Prescription opioids

Everyone who experiences surgery, chronic or severe pain, or have been plagued by a cough. So, a doctor prescribes opioids to treat those conditions. Prescription opioids include:

  • Codeine
  • Morphine
  • Oxycodone
  • Hydrocodone
  • Methadone
  • Diphenoxylate
  • Meperidine
  • Hydromorphone
  • Propoxyphene

Schedule II Drugs

 Schedule II Drugs Above a Dollar Paper Money

Image: CC 0 by Public Domain, TBIT, via Pixabay

The United States government classifies opioids as Schedule II drugs. While they have medical benefits, drugs in this category are considered highly addictive, can be abused. They can have severe physical and psychological consequences when people become addicted to them.

Drugs containing codeine in smaller amounts fall under Schedule III or IV drugs. Further, this is because they have a lower potential of being addictive. They include medications like Tylenol III given for pain, and prescription cough syrups containing codeine.

Street Drugs

Many drug addicts abuse prescription opioids, including those containing codeine like cough syrups and Tylenol III. However, a widely known illegal opioid is heroin or “H,” as it is known on the street. It has several other street names like:

  • Smack
  • Mexican Mud
  • Horse
  • Brown Sugar
  • White Boy

Knowing the various street names for “H” helps you determine if a friend or relative is using it. If you frequently hear one of these names, or one of the many others, during a conversation, then you could determine whether someone is talking to a drug dealer. Then you might be able to get them the help they need to stay away from the drugs.

Development of Opioids

Man Consulting to Two Doctors for the Development of Opioids Effect

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Opiate addiction has been an issue for centuries. Opiates were discovered and used as stimulants in about 3,400 BC. Hippocrates became the “father of medicine” discovered opiates had medicinal qualities and developed them.

During the Inquisition, opiates all but disappeared from Europe.  Because, they got developed by the devil, as was anything else produced in the Far East.

However, they were developed into a pain reliever in about 1527 AD called laudanum, which is still available in the US today. Many countries struggled with opiate addiction in the past, which lead to the creation of “H” to try to counterbalance the effects of opium or morphine.

During the 1850s, addiction to opium became a major issue. To control the opium addiction, addicts were given a new drug, which was supposedly non-addictive, called morphine.

What is Heroin?

Unfortunately, morphine remains as addictive than opium, Here comes a solution. To fight the morphine epidemic, another “non-addictive” substance was made, which was “H,” a derivative of morphine. This drug became more of a problem then morphine due to its addictiveness.

In 1937, German scientists thought they came up with another solution for opiate addiction while searching for a pain reliever they could use during surgeries called Methadone. However, this solution was also a bust because it was more addictive than “H.”

Heroin Effects

Converting Heroin Tar into "Monkey Water" for Administration through the Nasal Cavities, Rectum, or Veins

Image: Public Domain U.S., Psychonaught, via Wikipedia Commons

Along with opioids effect on the brain, they also have several physical effects. Smack remains a dangerous drug to experiment with because some people quickly become addicted to it.

Types of intake:

  • Snorting it in powder or liquid form.
  • Smoking it.
  • Shooting it into the bloodstream or a muscle.

Injecting smack provides a more intense experience than smoking or snorting. Many people snort or smoke it believing it isn’t as addictive if taken in those forms. However, it contains a quick effect on the body. However, not injecting it reduces the chances of being exposed to HIV/AIDS.

The Opioids Effect Influences

Drug intake influences how quickly someone becomes high.

  • If “H” gets injected directly into the bloodstream via a vein, it takes 10 seconds to feel the effect.
  • Injections into the muscle often take users more time to experience the rush of the drug. It takes effect in about 10 minutes, and it is less intense high.
  • Snorting or smoking “H” reduces the intensity of the drug and it also takes about 10 to 15 minutes to feel its effects.

Physical Short-term Effects

Woman Standing Inside a Crowded Train Experiecing Nausea as a Physical Short-term Effects

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Some of the physical short-term effects “H” users experience can include:

  • The rush of the drug.
  • Slower breathing.
  • Slower thinking.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Drowsiness.
  • Lower than normal body temperature; hypothermia.
  • Overdosing, which can lead to being in a coma or dying.

Physical Long-term Effects

Man Experiencing Depression as Physical Long-term Effects of Opioids

Image: CC 0 by Public Domain, whoismargot, via Pixabay

Long-term effects of taking smack can include:

  • Experiencing cold sweats.
  • Itchy skin.
  • It can weaken the immune system.
  • Gum inflammation and bad teeth.
  • Respiratory impairments.
  • Reduced sex drive or impotence in men.
  • Can prevent orgasms in men and women.
  • Memory loss and impaired intelligence.
  • Depression.
  • Appetite loss.
  • Insomnia.
  • Weaker muscles.
  • Coma.

Effects on the Brain

Opioids attach to the receptors in the brain and block pain, slows down the user’s breathing, provides calming and antidepressant effects. Due to their structure, opioids can mimic natural neurotransmitters in the brain. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that control communication from the brain to the body.

Since their structure mimics neurotransmitters, they can attach to the receptors in the brain and activate nerves and can send unusual messages to the synapses and neurons of the brain.


Neurotransmitters as the Cocaine uptake alters activity in the synapse

Image: Public Domain US, NIDA(NIH), Flickr

There are several neurotransmitters in the brain that can be affected by opioids, especially “H.” Some of them include:

  • Serotonin
  • GABA
  • Dopamine
  • Norepinephrine
  • Epinephrine

The Opioids Effect Feeling

Most drugs, including opioids, flood the pleasure center of the brain and cause feelings of euphoria or a rush. Dopamine is the most affected neurotransmitter because it is present in the areas of the brain which control movement, feelings of pleasure, emotions, and motivation.

When drugs flood these areas of the brain, users experience the rush of the drug overstimulating the reward system of the brain. This overstimulation causes hooks to its users on the drug because they want to experience the rush again.

Why People Become Addicted on the Opioids Effect

Man Lying on the Floor Who Became Addicted on the Opioids Effect with his Wife and Emergency Team

Image: CC by 2.0, Aberdeen Proving Ground, via Flickr

Along with experiencing the pleasure of euphoria, opioids can trigger the release of more dopamine than natural experiences like sex or eat good food. Up to two to 10 times more dopamine is released when taking opioids, and the resulting high can be felt quickly and last longer than with natural experiences.

The pleasurable experiences provided by drugs leads users to want more of them to repeat the experience. The longer it takes to feel pleasure because the brain will adjust itself.

What happens next?

Consequently, done by releasing less dopamine. Most users end up taking more opioids to feel the rush again. When less dopamine is produced, drug users often develop depression, their feelings become dull.

They may be unable to enjoy activities that once pleased them, such as sex. Their bodies tolerance to the drug increases, forcing them to take more of them to be able to experience pleasure again.

Symptoms of Addiction for Opioids Effect

Man Experiecing Symptoms of Addiction for Opioids Effect

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Treating an opioid addiction can be difficult because addicts can easily start using again because they want to be able to feel “normal” again. However, it is important to find effective treatments for opioid addiction and deaths have increased drastically in the US since 2007.

Knowing the symptoms of addiction is the best way to know when a loved one is using opioids and to help get them treatment to prevent opioids effect on the brain. Early symptoms include:

  • Sudden, dramatic changes in mood.
  • Impulsiveness.
  • Frequently scratching skin and that looks flushed.
  • Pinpoint pupils.
  • Withdrawing from people.
  • Not enjoying activities as they once did.
  • Frequently being drowsy and falling asleep.
  • Visiting several doctors to get opioid prescriptions.
  • Needle marks on arms and legs.

The Opioids Effect on Large Doses

Some synthetic opioids can be extremely dangerous when taken in large doses or combined with other drugs, including alcohol. Users can either go into a coma or die from using fentanyl and other forms of opioids.

If you have a loved one who needs help, consult with a professional or make an appointment with an addiction counselor so they can receive treatment to overcome their addiction.

Treatment for Opioids Effect

Men who are Recovering addicts attend a group counselling session

Image: CC by 2.0, Jordi Bernabeu Farrús, via Flickr

Treatments for an opioid habit include an approach that treats the addict’s whole body. They may be given drugs such as methadone, naloxone, buprenorphine or naltrexone. However, the patient must undergo detoxification to get the opioid out of their system.

Detox usually initiates into rehab.  So, managing through as detoxification seem dangerous. A whole body, or holistic, the approach also include counseling as part of the treatment.


Featured Image: CC by 2.0, Jordi Bernabeu Farrús, via Flickr

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