What Are Opioids?
Opioids are a class of drugs used to reduce pain. Opioids include some prescription pain medications, synthetic fentanyl and heroin. All opioids have a similar effect on the brain, they reduce the intensity of pain signals reaching the brain and affect the brain areas controlling emotion and breathing. Depending on how much you take and how you take them, if your body has more opioids than it can handle, there can be serious risks and side effects.
Examples of Opioids:
• Morphine (MS Contin®)
• Hydrocodone (Vicodin®, Norco®)
• Hydromorphone (Dilaudid®)
• Oxycodone (Percocet®, OxyContin®)
• Oxymorphone (Opana®)
• Fentanyl (Duragesic®)
• Buprenorphine (Subutex®)
Prescription medications have been a major driver of the opioid epidemic, but illicit drugs (heroin and synthetic fentanyl) are also increasingly contributing to this problem. Additionally, North Carolina and many other states are identifying fentanyl and opioid analogues in other kinds of illicit drugs (including cocaine, methamphetamine and counterfeit pills). People using these substances may unknowingly be exposed to opioids and are at high risk of opioid overdose. Using harm reduction techniques for safer use and having naloxone on-hand can help prevent fatal opioid overdose.