Endorphins are a brain chemical known as neurotransmitters. Once they are released, they help to combat stress and pain. These endorphins can be found in the brain, throughout the nervous system and the pituitary gland.
Endorphins interact with opiate receptors to reduce the perception of pain. They act in a similar way to opiates such as morphine and codeine. In addition to working to fight pain, the secretion of endorphins can produce feelings of euphoria and are thought to enhance the immune system.
Endorphins, or endogenous opioid polypeptide compounds, are often released in response to trauma, pain, stress and danger. Vigorous exercise can also bring about the release of endorphins.
Many Chronic and Serious Pain Sufferers Are Treated With Opiates
Pain is a very real part of life for millions of people. Chronic pain sufferers live in near constant misery if they are unable to find relief. Endorphins that are released may be inadequate in treating serious pain or chronic pain. Opiates are narcotics that are among the most prized pain relievers out there. They are often prescribed to treat illnesses such as cancer and degenerative, painful conditions.
Opiates and the drugs derived from them, opioids, can be a very effective part of a pain management program. There are some serious drawbacks, however. Taking these medications long term can lead to habitual use, dependence, addiction and a heightened sensitivity to pain.
The Brain Can Become Used To Opiates, Leading to Possible Addiction
The other problem is that long-term opiate use can lead to a depletion of the body's natural endorphins in the nerve cells. People who abuse these drugs over a prolonged period of time may cause a change in the way nerve cells work in the brain. The cells can become accustomed to having the drugs present, and they begin to require the drugs in order to work normally. This leads to issues that include opiate tolerance and opiate addiction.
People who become addicted to opiates may feel like they are part of a never-ending cycle. It is possible to break this cycle, but it may be difficult to do without the appropriate help. Opiate withdrawal is difficult in terms of pain, strong cravings and other bothersome symptoms. It can be very dangerous to stop taking opiates cold turkey after prolonged use. Many people require treatment with professional opiate detox or opiate rehab.