What Are Synthetic Opioids?

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What are Synthetic Opioids?

Synthetic opioids are a class of psychoactive drugs that relieve pain like opiates. They’re produced in laboratories, and they’re made to have an internal structure that’s similar to natural opioids. All the compounds that make up synthetic opioids are man-made and produced in a pharmaceutical lab. They’re not naturally occurring substances, but they have the same effect as drugs created from the opium poppy plant species, which are used to produce popular opiates like morphine, heroin and codeine.

Common Synthetic Opioids

The most common synthetic opioids are Fentanyl, Methadone, Tramadol and Buprenorphine:

  • Fentanyl: This powerful drug is at least 50 times more powerful than morphine. It’s the most widely used synthetic opioid. The drug is produced to relieve pain in surgical cases, but it’s also made for illegal street distribution.
  • Methadone: Methadone is a synthetic opioid that’s commonly used in medication-assisted treatment for patients who are diagnosed with addiction to other prescription or illicit opioids. Apart from therapy in opioid use disorder, it’s used for severe pain management.
  • Carfentanil: This extremely powerful opioid is 10,000 times stronger than morphine. It was originally designed to be an elephant tranquilizer. The powdered form of Carfentanil is now commonly used as a cutting agent in illicit drugs like heroin.
  • Tramadol: Tramadol is used for moderate to severe pain relief. It may be taken orally or as an injection. When taken orally, it provides rapid pain relief.

Benefits of Synthetic Opioids

Synthetic opioids have significant advantages over naturally derived opioids for the pharmaceutical industry producing necessary pain management medications, such as:

  • No cultivation: There’s no need to plant, monitor and harvest poppy plants for the creation of synthetic opioids.
  • Faster production: Without the planting and harvesting of plants, opioids can be produced quicker and cheaper.
  • Higher potency: Many synthetic opioids are far more potent and work faster in the treatment of chronic pain.
  • Lower costs: Faster production helps the prescription drug market by making more medication available with lower overhead and cheaper prices.

Dangers of Synthetic Opioids

Synthetic opioids and natural opioids have similar risks, but since synthetic opioids are more potent, users may experience the following harmful effects:

  • High risk of overdose: Taking more medication than prescribed or mixing synthetic opioids with alcohol, benzodiazepines or other opioids can result in overdose and death.
  • Damage to veins: If you inject synthetic opioids into your arteries or veins, they can cause blood clots, infections or the destruction of tissue in your limbs over a longer period of use.
  • Negative effects associated with natural opioids: Many negative effects are associated with natural opioids, such as loss of consciousness, coma, lethargy, nausea, itching and constipation.

Using synthetic opioids without a doctor’s prescription can also lead to addiction, which in turn can cause disruption of family life, poor health and loss of employment.

Contact Your Local BAART Programs Center

To get help for you or a loved one who may have a problem with opioid misuse, contact your local BAART Programs center today. You can reach out to us by filling out ourcontact formor calling 844.341.4040 today.


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