What Are Opioids?
Opioids are a class of drugs that include prescription pain relievers like oxycodone, codeine, fentanyl, and morphine, as well as the illegal drug heroin and others. These drugs are derived from an opium plant or are the synthetic equivalent and when abused, can be ingested, injected, smoked, and snorted. They bind to opioid receptors in the brain and nerve cells, reducing pain in the body and causing the brain to release dopamine, causing a euphoric sensation or an intense high that can lead to opioid abuse, dependence, and ultimately addiction. As tolerance increases, the body depends on the drug to function normally. Opioids are such a dangerous class of drugs, we’ve even lost some of our most creative musical artists to opioid overdose. The list is so long that we created an infographic of the ultimate list of musicians lost to drug overdose.
Opioids are narcotic pain medications prescribed to people with intense or chronic pain. Many people who begin abusing their medications will eventually turn to buying heroin on the streets as it is easier to obtain and costs less. Many people addicted to heroin start with a prescription for an injury or surgery recovery, and the risk of addiction increases the longer opioids are taken.
List of Opioid Drugs
Opioid drugs are prescribed for various reasons, from sports injuries to chronic cancer conditions or severe headaches. If you are wondering what drugs are considered opioids, please see this list of the most common drugs prescribed to the public:
- Oxycodone (Oxaydo, Oxycontin), or oxycodone with acetaminophen (Percocet, Roxicet)
- Morphine (Kadian, MS Contin, Morphabond)
- Hydromorphone (Dilaudid, Exalgo)
- Hydrocodone (Hysingla, Zohydro ER) or hydrocodone with acetaminophen (Lorcet, Lortab, Norco, Vicodin)
- Buprenorphine (Suboxone)
- Meperidine (Demerol)
- Fentanyl (Actiq, Abstral, Fentora, Duragesic)
- Methadone (Dolophine, Methadose)
- Oliceridine (Olynvik)
- Synthetic opioids
Find out more about the types of opioids in our list here:
Opioid Addiction in America
Addiction to opioids can happen gradually and even accidentally. Using opioid medications, even as prescribed to relieve pain according to their health information, can cause the body to form a dependence that can lead to prescription drug abuse and addiction. The brain’s reward system is affected, and the user may soon feel like they need the drug to feel normal and avoid experiencing withdrawal symptoms or cravings. People may eventually purchase heroin on the streets or obtain more pills and prescriptions through theft or fraud.
Opioid addiction in America is becoming increasingly commonplace. Each day in the United States, nearly 4,000 people will abuse prescription opioid medications. Around 600 people will try heroin for the first time (and many of these new users are youths, with an average age of 24.5 years), and a minimum of 78 people die from an opioid-related overdose.
Due to counterfeit drugs and street drugs being produced containing fentanyl, heroin, and other dangerous additives, research studies have found that overdoses increased 244% between 2007 and 2013 and have been rising ever since. 2020 was the deadliest year in the USA, with approximately 76,000 opioid overdose deaths recorded, with the Black, Latino, and Native American communities overrepresented in these numbers, according to the centers for disease control and other government websites.
These numbers are frightening, as the only way to be sure you are not consuming dangerous amounts of lethal drugs is to stop taking these substances, a brutal truth for many people with substance use issues.
The Opioid Crisis and Heroin Addiction
The Opioid Crisis is the name for a decades-long epidemic of prescription and street opioid abuse and deaths that has grown exponentially over the years. As opioids have been overprescribed and under-regulated, the number of people addicted to these drugs has become staggering. It has been noted that there is a trend toward prescription opioids acting as a “gateway” to heroin use.
To avoid withdrawal symptoms, a person with an opioid use disorder will feel that they must continue using opioid pain medications, and obtaining prescription drugs can become difficult. In some cases, heroin is easier to find on the streets and is less expensive. At first, it may produce euphoria with a more significant high for drug abusers who have become tolerant to prescription medications.
Opioid abuse is a slippery slope and can quickly lead to a severe addiction or accidental overdose due to the prevalence of additives in opioids such as fentanyl in street drugs. Rehabilitation programs addressing mental illness, opioid misuse, social issues, and health care in one integrated rehab program are best to prevent opioid overdoses and save lives.
Drug Rehab for Opioid Addiction at WhiteSands
If you or a loved one are experiencing a substance use disorder involving opioid drugs, our caring and professional team at WhiteSands Alcohol and Drug Rehab can help you stop using these substances. We also rehabilitate and get to the underlying root of your addiction through a safe and effective integrated rehabilitation plan.
With WhiteSands Alcohol and Drug Rehab, our team of experts is trained to treat opioid use disorders. We ensure you are taken care of from the moment you walk through our doors. We will help you detox, rehabilitate, and give you the recovery tools you will need to live a healthy, positive, and productive life. Contact us today to learn more about our opioid detox and rehab programs for opioid treatment. We can help you overcome opioid addiction.
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.