We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Are Opioid Analgesics?

By C.B. Fox
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
The Health Board is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At The Health Board, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Opioid analgesics are drugs that relieve pain by binding to opioid receptors on nerves and preventing pain signals from traveling through the nervous system. These drugs bind mainly to receptors in the digestive system and the brain. Some opioid analgesics occur naturally in plants, but some have been synthetically modified or created by scientists. Each opioid drug has a different effect on pain receptors, and some are less effective than others.

Natural opioid analgesics are derived from the opium poppy. This poppy is found in Asia and Europe and has been used for thousands of years for its exceptional ability to both relieve pain and increase tolerance to it. Compounds containing these substances have likely been used to perform surgery on patients and to relieve the pain associated with serious injuries or illnesses since before written history.

In modern medicine, the various alkaloids present in opium have been extracted and are often used independently or in conjunction with other medications. Two of the most commonly used opioid alkaloids are morphine and codeine. These chemicals are present in unrefined opium at varying levels depending on the specific opium poppy.

Medical advancements have also led to the creation of partially synthetic opioid analgesics. These medications include oxycodone and heroin. They are created by taking the alkaloids that have been separated from opium and chemically altering them. The chemical alterations can make these semi-synthetic opioid analgesics more effective than natural opioids.

There are also completely synthetic opioid analgesics. These drugs can be used for pain relief, though they are not usually as strong as the opioids that are made from natural sources of opium. Commonly used synthetic opioids include pethidine, which is used to relieve pain during labor.

All types of opioid analgesics have the potential to be abused. They are addictive and quickly create both a physical and psychological dependence. Over time, a person can become habituated to the use of opioid analgesics, which means that more of the drug is needed in order to achieve the same effects. Most of the time, hospitals administer these medications for only a short amount of time. Terminally ill patients, however, may be given as much medication as they need in order to relieve the pain.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.