Opioids for pain have been in the news a lot recently because of reports of increasing dependence on these addictive medications. They are prescribed for severe or persistent pain.
They are very effective at relieving pain but there is a risk of addiction when used long-term.
Side effects include sleepiness, constipation and nausea.
The most commonly prescribed opioid is codeine. Other opioids include tramadol, fentanyl, morphine, and heroin. Opioids are often prescribed as combined medications such as co-codamol which is paracetamol and codeine combined. This is so you get the benefits of both medications and can have a lower dose of codeine.
Codeine is a medication used to treat pain and diarrhoea. It is not surprising therefore that a lot of people who take codeine for pain experience constipation.
Opioids should only be taken under the supervision of your GP.