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What Is Pentazocine Used For?

How Does It Work?

Pentazocine works to relieve pain by binding to opioid receptors throughout the body and mimicking the action of naturally occurring chemicals that block pain. The main effects of pentazocine occur when it binds to receptors in the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord). However, the drug can produce effects anywhere opioid receptors are found in the body.
There are several different types of opioid receptors in the body. Pentazocine is classified as an opioid agonist-antagonist, which means it binds to and activates certain opioid receptors, known as kappa receptors, but also binds to and blocks certain other opioid receptors known as mu receptors.
Pentazocine is generally considered a relatively weak antagonist. However, as a mu opioid receptor antagonist, it can partially block the action of opioid medications that bind to mu receptors, such as morphine, making these medications less effective. It also has the potential to cause withdrawal symptoms in people who have been taking these other opioids for extended periods. In addition, pentazocine is only a partial agonist at kappa receptors, which means it only partially activates them.
Compared to full agonists, such as morphine, partial agonists-antagonists like pentazocine usually have a limited effective dosing range. This means there is a maximum dose above which the drug will no longer have any further effects. This can help make pentazocine a less desirable drug for abuse, and make it less dangerous than full agonist drugs, particularly in the case of an overdose.

Can Children Use It?

Pentazocine is approved for use as sedation before surgery or before anesthesia in children age 1 to 16 years old. It has not been adequately studied in children younger than age 1. It has also not been adequately studied for use after surgery in children younger than age 16. Talk to your child's healthcare provider about the risks and benefits of using this medication in children.
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