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Opiates/Opioids: DEPENDENCE, WITHDRAWAL & ALTERNATIVES

Opioids is a class of drugs that act on the opioid receptors in the brain and produce sedative and anesthetic effects.
Also referred to as narcotics, the term “opioid” covers all drugs both synthetic and naturally occurring derived from opium. In the past, opiates referred to only naturally occurring opiates, while the term opioid was reserved for only synthetically produced opiates. The term “opioid” now refers to all opiates/opioids.

What Are the Types of Opioid Drugs & Medications?

Click on the type of opioid below to learn more, read FAQs, and find opioid dependence resources. We provide this information for educational purposes, to answer common questions, and to assist those with questions about drug cessation and alternatives find additional help and education.

Opioid Medication FAQs

All different types, brand names, and chemical formulations of opioids will have their own unique side effects, symptoms of withdrawal, half-lives, and frequently asked questions. General questions about the opioid class of drugs can be found below.

Have a question about opioids? Contact Us and our knowledgeable professionals can answer your questions.

Why Are Opioids So Addictive?

Opioids are psychoactive drugs – meaning they change the way the brain functions. Because these drugs have the ability to alter perception, mood, consciousness, cognition, and behavior, the drugs are often used for both medical and recreational uses. In both cases, it is the chronic and long term use of the drugs that causes a chemical dependence on the drug.

Once a person is physically/chemically dependent on opioids, quitting becomes more difficult – as the body and brain functions have already adjusted to the presence of opioids. At this point, abruptly quitting opioids or trying to “quit opioids cold turkey” can cause acute and severe opioid withdrawal symptoms.

The severity of acute withdrawal symptoms associated with opioids – coupled with how quickly the brain can become dependent on the drug – explains why opioids are considered one of the most highly addictive classes of drugs that are regularly prescribed to patients in the United States.

Are Opioids Illegal?

The majority of opioid drugs are scheduled as controlled substances, based on their potential for abuse. Different types of opioids will be scheduled differently.

Schedule I Opioids:

Schedule I opioids are drugs with no currently accepted medical uses and a high potential for abuse such as heroin.

Schedule II Opioids:

  • Hydromorphone (Dilaudid)
  • Methadone (Dolophine)
  • Meperidine (Demerol)
  • Oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet, etc.)
  • Fentanyl (Duragesic, etc.)
  • Morphine
  • Opium
  • Codeine

Schedule III Opioids:

  • Hydrocodone (Vicodin, Norco, etc.)

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