Opiates have been used as pain relievers for centuries, but modern-day production of these substances has led to a dramatic rise in abuse and addiction. Opiates include a class of drugs that are considered central nervous system depressants, meaning that they reduce the activity of the heart, lungs, and brain. Opiates include heroin, which has been illegal in the United States for decades. However, many prescription painkillers are also in the opioid class of drugs. Despite being legal when prescribed for medical purposes, abuse of narcotic pain medications is on the rise.
One of the major health concerns in the United States is opiate abuse. Opiates are a class of drugs derived from opium, such as heroin. There are also a variety of synthetically created drugs designed to mimic opiates such as Vicodin, Norco, Klonopin and Oxycontin to name a few. These synthetic opiates are known as opioids, though the terms opioid and opiate are often used interchangeably. While most natural opiates are heavily controlled, opioids are commonly prescribed for managing pain. Many people who develop an addiction to opiates begin by taking them as prescribed, though illicit use without a prescription is also common. In either case, opiates and opioids are among the most dangerous addictive substances in the world. For a person with a dependency or addiction to opiates, professional drug treatment programs are absolutely crucial for recovery and potentially saving their lives.