Opioids are a category of highly addictive narcotic drugs, which include prescription pain medicine and illegal substances like heroin. They’re products, or synthetic versions, of the opium produced in small amounts by poppy plants. In large doses, they can slow the body’s heart and breathing to the point of stopping.

Opioids cause a temporary high by creating artificial endorphins, which are the hormones normally made in the body to decrease pain. Continued opioid use can make the brain to stop producing its own endorphins and build up tolerance. This causes people to take increasingly higher doses to feel good and to avoid severe, flu-like withdrawal symptoms. This can happen in a very short time; eight to 10 days.

Sally Robinson is a clinical professor of pediatrics at UTMB Children’s Hospital. This column isn’t intended to replace the advice of your child’s physician.

(2) comments

Paul Hyatt

You can talk to your child until you are blue in your face and pray for them, but if they are so inclined they will do what they will do. I know first had how destructive drugs can be to a family....

George Croix

There's a reason that permissive and responsible are not synonyms.....
It's a shame that so many kids in trouble could have been saved by having actual parents, rather than just people who they lived with.....

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