Intravenous Drug Use of Opioids and HIV transmission: Opioids 101

Tylenol in Percocet), Hydromorphone (Dilaudid), Hydrocodone (combined with Tylenol in Vicodin), to name a few. Fentanil and other related drugs are very potent opioids. While they can provide relief of severe soreness, they can be super deadly when abused because such a small dose produces an effect. The key is to use these drugs as prescribed by medical professionals and they can be used safely.

All the products mentioned so far only provide a few hours of ache relief, whether they are taken by a tablet or administered by injection. So about 20 years ago, companies tried to develop products that provided longer ache relief. This was a very important step in the medical management of soreness.

One product developed was called MS-Contin, a sustained-release preparation of morphine. Another product, Oxycontin is the infamous long-acting version of oxycodone. This product has been linked to the current “opioid crisis”. It’s not clear to me that this product, when used properly, is any more addictive than any other opioid. But when abused, this product supplies a much higher dose of the drug because it contains a quantity of a drug that is designed to be slowly released over time. This could increase the risk of abuse and subsequent addiction.

Heroin is derived from morphine. It is important to understand that there is nothing different or unique about heroin from any other opioid. It is an intravenous, short-acting opioid just like morphine. In many countries, it is a legally available drug and is no more dangerous than any other opioid when used appropriately in a medical setting.

When an opioid like heroin is injected, it produces a very rapid and particularly intense high, more so then if it would be taken orally. So this is one of the reasons the drug is abused this way. It is also why drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine are snorted and smoked. The intense high from injecting the heroin may increase the chance of addiction. When the addicted person tries to stop taking the drug, they experience withdrawal. People who

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