Opioids are powerful pain killers that are highly addictive. Opioid dependence affects nearly 5 million people in the United States and leads to approximately 17,000 deaths annually.
Opioids are a family of related drugs that relieve pain. All of the opioids (sometimes called narcotics) are chemically related to opium, which is a substance collected from the poppy plant. Opioid drugs include opium, codeine, fentanyl, heroin, hydrocodone, methadone, morphine, oxycodone, paregoric, and sufentanil. When prescribed by a doctor, the pain-relieving properties of opioids are used during and after surgical procedures, for the pain of childbirth, for injury, and for other pain problems. Although opioid medications have helped millions of individuals with pain, these drugs can be used inappropriately.
The Journal of the American Medical Association, 2004
Opioids (National Institute on Drug Abuse-2011)
5 Things to Know about Opioid Overdoses (Office of National Drug Control Policy-2014)
Opioid Abuse (JAMA-2004)
Abuse of Prescription Pain Medications Risks Heroin Use (NIDA-2014)
Infographic that highlights the association between prescription pain medication abuse and heroin.