Opioids: what do nursing students need to know?
The medications are useful for managing acute pain but nurses should be mindful of risks, including side effects and the potential for addiction
‘Opioids are medications that help to reduce pain,’ says clinical matron for cancer services at Royal Devon University Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust Rhea Crighton.
‘They work centrally – on the brain and spinal cord area – as well as peripherally, such as in the gut, which is why you can get nasty side effects like constipation and nausea. They work by replicating our natural endorphins – the natural pain-relieving chemicals that are produced in our body.’
Which medications are opioids?
Opioid medications include dihydrocodeine, codeine, tramadol, morphine, and fentanyl.
‘I describe them
Want to read more?
Unlock full access to RCNi Plus today
Save over 50% on your first three months:
- Customisable clinical dashboard featuring 200+ topics
- Unlimited online access to all 10 RCNi Journals including Nursing Older People
- RCNi Learning featuring 180+ RCN accredited learning modules
- NMC-compliant RCNi Portfolio to build evidence for revalidation
- Personalised newsletters tailored to your interests