Opioids are a type of narcotic pain medication. They can cause serious, harmful side effects – even death – if taken incorrectly or excessively. For people with an opioid use disorder (OUD), addiction often starts with legitimately prescribed medications after surgery or for chronic pain.

How opioids work

Opioid drugs bind to receptors in the brain, spinal cord and other areas of the body, effectively telling the brain there is no pain. They are used to treat moderate to severe pain that may not respond well to other pain medications such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen or aspirin.

Some commonly prescribed opioid drugs include:

  • Codeine
  • Fentanyl (Actiq, Duragesic, Fentora, Abstral, Onsolis) Also available in a patch form.
  • Hydrocodone (Hysingla, Zohydro extended release)
  • Hydrocodone/acetaminophen (Lorcet, Lortab, Norco, Vicodin)
  • Hydromorphone (Dilaudid, Exalgo)
  • Meperidine (Demerol)
  • Methadone (Dolophine, Methadose)
  • Morphine (Kadian, MS Contin, Morphabond_
  • Oxycodone (OxyContin, Oxaydo)
  • Oxycodone and acetaminophen (Percocet, Roxicet)