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Opium poppy (Papaver somniferum) , from whose milk opiates are obtained

Opiates are an inconsistently defined group of substances . Classic were as opiates opium -containing drug such as, tincture of opium , respectively. Later the term was extended to medicines made from opium alkaloids . In modern pharmacology , the term is mostly used for opium alkaloids and the semi-synthetic and non-peptide drugs derived from them . Other definitions see the term opiate as a synonym for opioids , which in addition to the opium alkaloids also include other naturally occurring opioids as well as semi-synthetic and fully synthetic substances with morphine-like properties. Under narcotics law, the term opiate is used in connection with opiate addiction for opioids with a potential for dependence.

Morphine is the oldest and most relevant opiate and is used in pain therapy as a reference substance, which is used to measure the analgesic effect of the other opioids (similar to the diazepam in the benzodiazepine group ): For example, a therapeutic potency of 2 means that you only have half the Dose that would be required if morphine were used. Of the opiates, morphine is still the most relevant, but other opioids (e.g. oxycodone , hydromorphone , fentanyl ) have become increasingly important in pain medicine in recent years . Another opiate, codeine , is primarily used to suppress the coughing stimulus ( antitussive ). Various opiates are subject to narcotics legislation .

History of synthetic opiates

After morphine was administered to soldiers wounded in the American Civil War , tolerance and dependence became a social problem in the United States. Tolerance is understood to mean that the effect of a certain dose of an opiate becomes less and less when you get used to it and that a constant effect can only be achieved by increasing the dose or switching to another opiate. Dependence is a more complex phenomenon, the full expression of which is known as addiction . A general distinction is usually made between physical dependence and psychological dependence, which occur in conjunction with one another. For both forms, the urge to take it again is the most important aspect of addiction. As a result, there has been an intense search for non-addictive analgesic opiates, many have been brought into circulation for clinical use, and after some time it has been found that they do lead to addiction. The Bayer AG brought example, in 1890 heroin on the market. In 1937 pethidine became popular, known under the trade names Dolantin and Demerol . Etorphine is another synthetic opiate made in the 1960s.

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Pierer's Universal Lexicon . 12th edition. Altenburg 1861, p. 313-314 (entry opiates ).
  2. ^ Meyer's Large Conversational Lexicon . 15th edition. Leipzig 1908, p. 77 (entry opiates ).
  3. ^ Otto Dornblüth: Clinical Dictionary . 13/14. Edition. 1927 (entry opiates, opium addiction ).
  4. Klaus Aktories, Ulrich Förstermann, Franz Bernhard Hofmann, Klaus Starke (eds.): General and special pharmacology and toxicology: Founded by W. Forth, D. Henschler, W. Rummel . 10th edition. Urban & Fischer Verlag / Elsevier, 2009, ISBN 978-3-437-42522-6 , pp. 230 .
  5. Heinz Lüllmann, Klaus Mohr, Lutz Hein: Pharmacology and toxicology: Understanding drug effects - using drugs in a targeted manner . 17th edition. Thieme, Stuttgart 2010, ISBN 978-3-13-368517-7 , p. 294-308 .
  6. §5 BtMVV


  • Heinz Lüllmann, Klaus Mohr: Pharmacology and Toxicology. 15th edition. Thieme, Stuttgart / New York 2003, ISBN 3-13-368515-5 .