What are Opioids?

Opioids are a type of drug that block pain. They can calm your emotions and give you a sense of pleasure. They can also slow down your breathing and heart rate, so that if you take too many, you could overdose and die.

Some opioids can be prescribed by a doctor to make pain feel better after a surgery or injury. These include oxycodone (OxyContin), hydrocodone (Vicodin), and morphine. Illegal opioids are received without a prescription and/or taken in a way not prescribed by your doctor. The illegal drug heroin is also an opioid.

Fentanyl is an opioid pain reliever that is much stronger than other opioids. It is used to treat extreme pain, usually for people with advanced cancer. Because it is cheap to make and a small amount goes a long way, fentanyl that is illegally made and sold has become more common. Many people will consume fentanyl without meaning to, while others choose to use it because it is so powerful. It is also easy to get a high dose without realizing it. This makes it much more likely that someone might accidentally overdose.