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Opioids Overview

Opioids are a class of drugs that include the illegal drug heroin as well as synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, and pain relievers that are available legally by prescription. Prescription opioids include such drugs as oxycodone (OxyContin®), hydrocodone (Vicodin®), codeine, morphine, and many others.

Prescribed legally and taken for medical purposes, prescription opioids can treat acute pain and are safe when taken for a short time. In addition to pain relief, opioids can also produce a euphoric high which can lead to misuse, dependence, addiction, overdose and death.