What Are Opioids?
Opioids are a type of drug generally used to relieve pain. Opioids are commonly prescribed for both acute pain (e.g., after surgery, broken bones, burns) and chronic pain (e.g., back pain, cancer-related pain, fibromyalgia).
They may be prescribed as:
- Skin patches
- Nasal sprays
Common prescription opioids include:
- Hydromorphone (Dilaudid)
- Codeine (in Tylenol No. 2, No. 3, and No.4)
How do they work?
Opioids work by blocking pain signals in the nervous system.
Opioid drugs, such as morphine and codeine, are harvested and made from the seed of opium poppy plants to mimic the effects of your body's natural opioids.
Other opioids, like fentanyl and methadone, are synthetic and made by changing the chemical structure of natural opioids.
In addition to treating pain, opioids like methadone and buprenorphine are used in harm-reduction practice to treat opioid use disorder.