Richard B Craig

OPERATION PAR See Treatment Programs/Centers/Organizations: An Historical Perspective

OPIATES/OPIOIDS The opiates are central nervous system depressants that are found in OPIUM or are derived from a substance found in opium, which is the juice of the opium poppy (Papaver Somniferum). The opioids include the opiates, along with totally synthetic agents, and naturally occurring peptides that bind to one or more opioid receptors found in a number of animal species. In general usage, both terms are often used interchangeably—but opioids is the larger grouping.

The effects of opium have been known for several thousand years. For most of this time it was not clear which of the ingredients in opium provided its analgesic (painkilling) and other therapeutic properties. Regardless of their benefits, health care providers are often afraid to prescribe them for fear of psychological dependence and sale to illegal markets (Carver, 2000). Still, the medical community has been increasing the use of opioid analgesics (Increasing Use, 2000).

Morphine and Codeine, two of the most abundant constituents of opium, were the first pure opiates isolated—morphine in 1806 and codeine in 1832. Chemical modifications were soon attempted in an effort to eliminate their problematic side effects. One of the first attempts (in the 1890s) produced 3, 6-diacetylmorphine, which is commonly known as heroin. This agent did not eliminate the problems of tolerance, dependence, or abuse. Since then, extensive studies of the important components of morphine's structure have led to the development of a number of different classes of organic compounds. In 1939 and 1940, the first synthetics were discovered. The recent discovery of the opioid peptides have provided even more diversity in drug design.

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