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What are Opioids

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Opioids Background

Opioids refers to a class of drugs derived from the opium poppy plant used for their painkilling effects. These substances are highly addictive and include drugs prescribed by medical professionals as well as illicit substances such as heroin.

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Commonly Prescribed Opioids

Medical professionals legally prescribe opioids to treat strong pain. Prescribed opioids can help many patients but carry a risk of dependence. Commonly prescribed opioids include:
Oxycodone (Percocet® or OxyContin®)
Hydrocodone (Vicodin® or Norco®)
Morphine (Kadian®)
Codeine (Tylenol #3® or #4®)

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Illicit Opioids

Illicit opioids encompass substances that are not legal, such as heroin and illicitly manufactured synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl, which is several magnitudes more potent than non-synthetic opioids.  An increasing proportion of opioid overdose deaths are a result of fentanyl.

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Prolonged use of opioids leads to higher tolerance and physical dependence. At low doses, opioids make you feel sleepy. At high doses they can drastically slow your heart rate, which can lead to death.

About the Opioid Crisis

Since 1999, hundreds of thousands of Americans have lost their lives to an opioid overdose. Find out more about how the opioid epidemic has affected the United States below. 

CDC - Understanding the Epidemic

NIDA - Opioid Overdose Crisis