The Most Common Types of Opioids

Published On: January 16, 20244.7 min read939 wordsCategories: Opioid Addiction

Pain is a driving force behind why many people go to the doctor, and one of the most commonly prescribed medications for pain relief are opioids

If you’ve ever suffered from chronic pain, whether from an injury or illness, or gone through a surgery, you very well may have been prescribed opioids at one point; maybe more than once.

Even if you haven’t received an opioid prescription personally, chances are someone you know has had one, or has one currently. The number of opioid prescriptions in the United States doubled between 1998 and 2013, and continues to rise each year, resulting in a surge of substance use disorders, addictions and overdoses. 

There are many different types of prescription and illicit opinions (far too many for us to discuss in this one article), but today we’ll be going over the most common opioids.

What are opioids?

Opioids are a class of highly potent, pain-relieving drugs. Certain forms of this drug have legitimate medical uses and are produced in a formal, pharmaceutical environment; others, however, have been illicitly produced in an illegal environment and are often laced with other drugs. 

These drugs work by interacting with the body’s natural pain perception and pain management systems by simultaneously sedating your central nervous system and enhancing the release of dopamine in the brain. This occurs in both pharmaceutically and illicitly produced opioids.

In a medical environment, they are prescribed to individuals suffering from acute or chronic pain, such as when stemming from surgery recovery or a long-term illness. Recreationally, opioids are manufactured (or prescriptions are illicitly sold) because of the high they produce in the user. 

While the temporary euphoria can be enjoyable, the strong potential for addiction and overdose doesn’t ever make this substance worth recreational use.

What are common opioids?

Opioids fall within two broad categories, legal and illegal.

Within the legal category, the most common types of prescription opioids are oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine, codeine and pharmaceutical fentanyl. The most common types of illegal opioids are heroin and manufactured fentanyl.

Oxycodone (brand names include OxyContin and Percocet) is a powerful, semi-synthetic opioid often prescribed for managing moderate-to-severe pain. It is a Schedule II controlled substance within the United States because of its high potential of dependence and abuse.

Hydrocodone (brand names include Vicodin and Norco) is a milder, but still potent, opioid often prescribed to relieve pain following dental procedures of persistent pain following surgery. It’s also classified as a Schedule II controlled substance because of its potential for addiction.

Morphine is a very powerful opioid that’s naturally derived from the poppy plant, and is one of the oldest and most effective forms of pain management. It’s commonly used in postoperative care, chronic pain and cancer-related pain. It’s also a Schedule II controlled substance.

Codeine is also derived from the poppy plant and is often combined with acetaminophen or ibuprofen as a pain reliever and cough suppressant. It’s a Schedule II controlled substance in its pure form, but is sometimes classified differently when other medications decrease its potency.

Pharmaceutical fentanyl is currently the most potent and dangerous opioid in existence, and is used in cases of severe and chronic pain. Fentanyl is believed to be 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, and though it is also a Schedule II controlled substance, it’s become notorious for its role in the opioid epidemic.

Heroin and illicitly manufactured fentanyl are the two most common types of illegal opioids, and both are associated with extreme risks, including addiction, overdose and death. While heroin is derived from morphine (which is naturally sourced in poppy plants), illicit fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that’s often mixed with other dangerous substances.

The impact of opioid use

Opioids have been used for pain management for decades, but the first increase in opioid prescriptions in the 1990s lead to the first shock wave of opioid-involved overdose deaths. 

There’s a growing concern within the medical field and patient demographic alike surrounding the nature of overprescribing opioids in the light of the ever-increasing rate of opioid overdose.

The rate of opioid-involved overdose deaths in the States has continued to rise alongside the increase of opioid prescriptions. Opioids continue to be the drug most responsible for fatal drug overdoses in the United States, with tens of thousands of people dying every single year.

Since the 1990s, over 600,000 people have died from an opioid overdose. The number is even suspected to be much higher, considering how many people suffer with addiction in silence, and how many die alone. It doesn’t have to be that way though — you’re still here, you’re not alone.

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, we urge you to send us a message.

Take the first step today

Here at Freedom Detox, your long-term recovery is our passion and our mission. No matter how long you’ve been struggling with a substance use disorder or addiction, there’s still time to heal.

One of the first phases of recovery is detoxing your mind and your body from substance abuse. It might be tempting to try this at home, but due to how extreme and even dangerous certain withdrawal symptoms can be (especially with a longer-term addiction), it’s not advised.

We’re here to help; our premier detoxification services are fully customized to meet your unique needs and ensure your sustainable recovery from addiction. 

Send a message to our team or give us a call today to learn more about how we can help you take the first step towards recovery and healing today.

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