Blog

What Are Opioids?

how to use benzodiazepine. Benzodiazepines are a type of medication known as tranquilizers. Familiar names include Valium and Xanax. They are some of the most commonly prescribed medications in the United States. When people without prescriptions obtain and take these drugs for their sedating effects, use turns into abuse.

Benzodiazepines (pronounced ‘ben-zoh-die-AZ-a-peens’) are depressant drugs. This means that they slow down the activity of the central nervous system and the messages travelling between the brain and the body. They do not necessarily make a person feel depressed. Other depressants include alcohol, cannabis and heroin

Benzodiazepines most commonly used to treat anxiety disorders are clonazepam (Rivotril)*, alprazolam (Xanax) and lorazepam (Ativan).

Drugs such as Xanax (alprazolam), Klonopin (clonazepam), Valium (diazepam), and Ativan (lorazepam) work quickly, typically bringing relief within 30 minutes to an hour.

Benzodiazepines are likely to be most effective if you take them as a one-off dose for one occasion, and not as continuous treatment.

What Are Opioids?

Opioids

Opioids can be prescription medications often referred to as painkillers,

or they can be so-called street drugs, such as heroin.

In addition to controlling pain, opioids can make some people feel relaxed, happy or “high,” and can be addictive. Additional side effects can include slowed breathing, constipation, nausea, confusion and drowsiness.

Opioids by Name

they do not fall into the same category as over-the-counter painkillers such as aspirin and Tylenol. 

The most commonly used opioids are:

  • prescription opioids, such as OxyContin and Vicodin
  • fentanyl, a synthetic opioid 50–100 times more potent than morphine
  • heroin, an illegal drug

Using Opioids

Opioid use does not come without risks. Regular use of these prescribed medications can increase your tolerance and dependence, requiring higher and more frequent doses. In some cases longer term use can lead to addiction (or what doctors will call “opioid use disorder”). In addition, opioids can restrict your ability to breathe when taken at a higher dose, and when misused, can lead to a fatal overdose.

The risk of respiratory depression (slowing or even stopping your breathing), increases if you have never taken an opioid before or if you are taking other medications/drugs that interact with the opioid.

Opioids, which can interact with diseases, too, should only be used if needed for pain, including if alternatives for pain control are not effective.

Be sure to review your current medications and disclose any past or present drug use with your doctor when discussing whether an opioid prescription is right for you. If you have a personal or family history of substance abuse, you may be at increased risk of becoming more easily dependent on opioids, and you should tell your health care provider about this. Also be sure to ask about alternative treatments.