Knowing Better

What are opioids?

Opioids are a group of drugs that are derived from opium, which comes from the poppy plant. Some of the drugs are derived from natural or slightly modified opium, while others are synthetic. Many of them are prescribed by doctors for pain management, but have been shown to have addictive qualities. Some of the most common opioids, including their generic names, are:

  • Codeine

  • Hydrocodone (Vicodin, Hycodan)

  • Morphine (MS Contin, Kadian)

  • Oxycodone (Oxycontin, Percoset)

  • Hydromorphone (Dilaudid)

  • Fentanyl (Duragesic)

  • Heroin

Abuse, Misuse and Addiction – What's The Difference?

There are a lot of words out there to describe opioid use disorder. 


Opioids impact your brain, which is part of how they work to reduce pain. However, the effect also creates a physical dependency, which can lead to increased use in order to get the same effect. Over time, this can lead to misuse or abuse, beyond what a doctor has prescribed.


Addiction is a disease and a mental health issue. It can create emotional and behavioral symptoms, and become dangerous when combined with substances that cause physical dependency.

What Are The Treatment Options?

Because opioid abuse and addiction has both physical and mental components, a treatment plan should address both areas.


There are many recovery and treatment programs that include counseling and other supportive elements, which is critical to effective recovery.


There are three approved drugs that can be used to help break the physical dependency on opioids. Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) drugs, such as methadone and Subaxone, must be prescribed and monitored by an approved physician. Visit our Resources page to find doctors, clinics and other options for treatment in your community.

I Think Someone I Know Is Using, Now What?

First, look for common signs and symptoms of opioid abuse, which can include isolation, drowsiness, weight loss, and others. A conversation is necessary, and there are ways to talk with your friends and loved ones. Then, provide support and resources. Our “First Steps Guide” has details for all of these steps. Download it here.