What are Opioids?

What are Opioids?

Opioids are a class of drugs used to reduce pain.


Opioids are a class of drugs used to reduce moderate-to-severe pain. They are often prescribed following surgery, injury, or for cancer pain. Despite serious risks and lack of evidence about long-term effectiveness, in recent years, there has been a dramatic increase in the use of prescription opioids for treatment of chronic, non-cancer pain.


The most common drugs in prescription opioid overdose deaths are Methadone,  Oxycodone (such as OxyContin®) and, Hydrocodone (such as Vicodin®) and, Fentanyl (such as Abstral®, Actiq®, Fentora®, and Onsolis®).

The Chilling Opioid Facts:

  • According to the CDC, use of the illegal opioid Heroin has increased across the U.S. among men and women, most age groups, and all income levels. 
  • The CDC has also found that some of the greatest increases are found in groups with historically low rates of heroin use: women, privately insured, and people with higher incomes. 
  • Opioids were involved in 70,237 deaths in 2017.
  • According to Allied Against Opioid Abuse, approximately 53 percent of people who misused opioids obtained them from a friend or relative for free.
  • An average of one hundred thirty Americans die every day from an opioid overdose. 
  • Recent government data found that more than two-thirds of patients who undergo surgery do not use all their painkillers, and few safely store or dispose of them.       

The following drugs should also never be combined with opioids:

  • Anti-anxiety medicines (benzodiazepines such as Xanax® and Valium®)
  • Muscle relaxants (such as Soma® or Flexeril®)
  • Sleeping pills (such as Ambien® or Lunesta®)
  • Other prescription opioids (such as meperidine)


Opioid Resources: