Medications - Derivatives of Opium and Morphine

Understanding the medications you're taking is important. Why? Preventing an accidental overdose is one good reason. Avoiding a mixture of the wrong medications is something you can't leave to your doctor or pharmacist. They see hundreds of people every week and although they are trained and responsible for avoid mistakes, that's not going to do you much good when you're in a coma or the grave. 

Doctors don't like to be questioned. Pharmacists are much more open. Whether people like to be questioned or not shouldn't figure into your questioning them. It's your life and you're responsible for protecting it.

Derivatives of opium are broken down into two groups, those derived from opium and those derived from morphine. A third generation, synthetics, is fairly new and the fourth category is semi-synthetics, which contain part opium or morphine and part synthetic material. 



(related to)


Codeine Demerol Methadone Oxycodone (morphine)
Morphine Vicodin Fentanyl Hydrocodone (morphine)
Heroin Fentanyl Duralgesic Patches Hydromorphone (morphine)
Propoxyphene (morphine)
Levorphano (morphine)


WebMD - This is an excellent site for side effects, mixing medications, and thorough information on the medications you are taking.

Many medications contain ingredients you are not aware of. Most meds have a lot of buffers in them, such as Tylenol or aspirin. Often these buffers cause their own problems. Tylenol can cause its own overdose and aspirin can cause ulcers. Here are some examples of common pain medications and what they actually contain:

Damason P, Lortab
  • Codeine and Aspirin

Fiorinal with Codeine

  • Codeine, Aspirin, Butalbital, and Caffeine


  • Dihydrocodeine, Aspirin, and Caffeine

Endodan , Percodan, Roxiprn

  • Hydrocodone and Aspirin

Talwin Compound

  • Pentazocine and Aspirin
Darvon Compound, Propoxyphene Compound
  • Propoxyphene, Aspirin, and Caffeine



Methadone is also opiate based, but does not contain morphine. It is a synthetic medication:   

Methadone mimics morphine, but since it's not actually morphine, it's very effective in getting heroin addicts off heroin which is pure opium (from which morphine is derived) and as I understand from watching shows, etc., is usually melted down and "shot up" directly into the body through the veins. I

Heroin addicts need more and more to achieve the same high, need it constantly, use it purely to get high; hence those  opium dens. Heroin merely became a highly portable and easily administered way of dispensing opium. 

Morphine was developed from opium as a pain killer and was considered a medical breakthrough and blessing. During war time, it was a definite blessing, but it soon hit the streets, too, where it became abused and dangerous.

The various drugs developed from opium are:  "Raw Opium, Opium, Codeine, Morphine, Heroin, Hydromorphone (Dilaudid), Oxycodone (Percodan), Oxymorphone (Numorphan), Hydrocodone (Vicodin), Meperidine (Demerol), Fentanyl, Methadone (Dolophine), Darvon, and Talwin." 

All are opiate-based but are broken down different ways and contain varying levels. While they're all opiate-based, they're not necessarily morphine-based.  

The important distinction -- not always made by physicians and the Department of Drug Enforcement (DEA) -- is that people in pain are NOT drug seekers. We are "relief from pain" seekers. Many maintain that we do not become addicted because our bodies absorb the medicine not to become "high" but for pain relief.

We don't actually get high because the medications go for pain relief. We  may get drowsy or suffer other side effects, but we don't get  high.

The idea of withholding pain medication from a terminal patient for fear o their becoming addicted is ludicrous. They are DYING. What does it matter if they DO become addicted? It's not like they're going to have to go through detox.

If our pain were cured, we could also cure our need for pain medications.

So it's a matter of choice with doctors whether they use MSContin or oxycontin or fentanyl for constant pain -- all are opiate based but do not necessarily morphine-based -- or methadone or oxycodone for breakthrough pain. Methadone and oxycodone are short-term and fast-acting which make them good for breakthrough pain.

Increasing medications until they control the pain is called "titrating" them upward. The understanding and truly dedicated doctor will titrate the pain medication until relief if achieved.

Physicians should be allowed to do this without fear of the  DEA picking on them as an easy target instead of going after drug dealers and importers on the street. Illegal drug importation is not a white-collar crime. and is  completely different from a doctor prescribing medication for pain.


If your doctor will not treat  you for pain, you have the right, indeed the duty, to find one who will. We have a list of doctors recommended by our readers and encourage you to send in more recommendations.

REMEMBER just because you need pain medications does not make  you a drug addict. No one has a right to make you feel like an addict because you need medication to cope with your pain and stay alive.

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