But first......What are opioids?
Opioids are drugs that work in the body the way opium does. Some are made directly from opium (for example, morphine and codeine), while others are man-made but similar chemically to opium (for example, the painkillers oxycodone, hydrocodone, and fentanyl, better known by such brand names as OxyContin®, Vicodin®, Percocet®, and Actiq®*). The illegal drug heroin is also an opioid. All of these drugs are extremely powerful. For people with severe pain, opioids are very effective medicines, and most patients treated for pain with opioids do not become dependent on them. For some people, however, opioid dependence is an unexpected side effect of proper pain treatment. The problem comes when someone is unable to stop using the drug after the pain passes. Some people become dependent because they start using opioids recreationally at parties or they may start using them to deal with stress.