Opioids are a class of drug that comes from natural or synthetic ingredients found in the opium poppy plant. Opioids work to reduce and alleviate pain by activating nerve cells in the brain known as opioid receptors that stop pain signals from the brain to the body. Opioids include prescription pain medications and illegal drugs, both of which can become addictive.
Some examples of prescription opioids include morphine, codeine, oxycodone (Oxycontin, Percocet), hydrocodone (Vicodin), fentanyl, methadone, tramadol, and buprenorphine. Oftentimes, opioids are combined with other medications, such as acetaminophen, when prescribed. Illegal opioids include heroin and any prescription opioid that is sold to people without a prescription.
Other names for opioids include:
Sources: Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, Vertara Health, Johns Hopkins Medicine