What Are Opioids?

We hear a lot about the opioid epidemic in America. People are concerned about the rise of opioid use and deaths. However, some people may have wondered — what are opioids anyway? This is a critical question to answer because if you don’t know exactly they are, then you may be putting yourself at risk if you take them. With all the different medications that doctors prescribe, it’s important to know what you’re getting and whether it’s an opioid or not.

What Are Opioids?

Opioids are a category of drugs that include both legal and illegal substances. These drugs are naturally occurring in the opium poppy plant, which binds to the opioid receptors in the brain. This helps stop the pain signals you get from your brain. For this reason, opioids include some prescription painkillers. Furthermore, prescribed opioids have a Schedule II classification by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration. A Schedule II drug is one that has a high risk of abuse and addiction.

What Are The Different Opioids

When considering the question ‘What are opioids?’, it’s helpful to look at the various types of opioids that are out there. The legal opioids that your doctor may prescribe for you include medications, such as:

  • Oxycodone (Percocet, Percodan)
  • Hydrocodone-Acetaminophen (Vicodin, Lorcet)
  • OxyContin
  • Morphine
  • Codeine
  • Meperidine (Demerol)
  • Methadone (Methadose, Dolophine)

Many of these names may sound familiar to you if you’ve ever been prescribed pain medication. Because these medications treat moderate to severe pain, law enforcement considers them legal opioids. However, illegal opioids exist, as well. Some rarely prescribed drugs created in superlabs mimicking legal drugs and, therefore, considered illegal.

These are as follows:

  • Heroin
  • Fentanyl (often made in labs illegally)
  • Meth (crystal meth is made in labs)

Doctors rarely prescribe fentanyl because of its extreme risk of abuse and overdose. However, doctors do prescribe it in a patch format for cancer patients. However, drug dealers sell the illegal form of this drug on the streets. The same can be said for meth, which doesn’t really have much medicinal use now, but it was prescribed in the past.

Dangers of Opioids

When thinking about what are opioids, it’s vital to understand the dangers of these drugs. There has been a rise in overdose deaths from opioid use. One reason for the increase is the potency of some of these drugs made in labs is incredibly powerful. Also, drug dealers sometimes mix in the potent illegal substance with a more well-known drug. The person taking it doesn’t know and ends up taking too much and overdoses. The serious nature of opioid dependence must be dealt with through therapy and detox.

Introducing Casa Palmera

At Casa Palmera, you’ll discover a welcoming environment and friendly staff as you journey forward on the path of healing.

We take each need seriously and customize a treatment plan that includes your own assigned medical doctor, licensed psychiatrist, and substance abuse counselor. Our professional staff provides a variety of treatment programs designed to meet whatever needs you are dealing with. Some of these programs include:

Begin your journey to recovery by verifying your insurance. We are in-network with a variety of insurance agencies, such as Cigna, Anthem, Blue Cross, and Aetna.

Don’t let drug addiction ruin your prospects for a happy, fulfilled life. Reach out for the help you need. Contact us today and we’ll get you on the pathway to healing.


This blog is for informational purposes only and should not be a substitute for medical advice. We understand that everyone’s situation is unique, and this content is to provide an overall understanding of substance use disorders. These disorders are very complex, and this post does not take into account the unique circumstances for every individual. For specific questions about your health needs or that of a loved one, seek the help of a healthcare professional.