Jacobs Journal of Pharmacology and Pharmacovigilance

The Pharmacologic Differences that Causes Opioids to be the Number One Cause of Deaths

Published on: 2019-03-08


With the increasing prevalence of opioid related deaths in North America, there is a need to understand the pharmacologic differences that explain why opioids are the leading causes of death among individuals who consume opioids. The opioid receptors in the brain, spine, as well as the gut are responsible for the observed analgesia after the administration of the opioids. For many patients, an opioid overdose depresses the respiratory system and compromises the functioning of organs due to the greatly reduced respiration. A literature review was conducted with the purpose of identifying relevant articles that explain the pharmacologic basis of opioids. From the electronic search of articles, ten were identified as the most relevant for the literature review. In the results and discussion sections is an overview of the pharmacologic basis of opioids and an explanation of how an overdose of opioids leads to death.


Opioids; Pharmacology; Mechanisms of action; Opioid receptors; Opioid overdose