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Opioids are compounds with effects antagonized by naloxone. They include narcotic analgesics (synthetic drugs and opiates) and opioid peptides (endorphins, enkephalins, dynorphins). They are potent analgesics. It is important to remember that they have two clinical pharmacologies - one for the patient in pain, the other in healthy subjects.

Thus, side effects such as a potential for respiratory depression, are modulated by other inputs. Altering the amount of input later, for example with alternative pain relief, may alter the response to the opiate. It is thus very important to titrate opiate dose against the pain.

In general women get greater pain relief than men, Afrocarribeans more than Caucassians, and old greater than young (1).


  • Lloyd-Thomas, A.R. (1990). Pain management in paediatric patients. Brit. J. Anaesth., 64, 85-104.

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