What Are Opioids?
What are opioids used for?
Opioids are a type of drug generally used to relieve pain (painkillers), or they can be street drugs, such as heroin. Opioid medications are commonly prescribed for both acute pain (for example after surgery, broken bones, and burns) and chronic pain (for example cancer-related pain).
Opioids may be prescribed as:
Some common prescription opioids include:
How do opioids 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.
How strong are opioids?
Opioids are strong drugs. But various types of opioids have different strength. For comparison, hydromorphone is five times stronger than morphine.
Your health-care provider calculates your opioid dosage in Morphine Milligram Equivalent (MME), which is a value that shows the strength of an opioid dosage compared to morphine.
MME helps your health-care provider make safe and appropriate decisions about your daily opioid dosage. To ovoid opioid overdose, always make sure to take opioid medications as prescribed for you.