Opioids 101

Opioids are highly addictive narcotic substances that act on the nervous system to relieve pain. These substances include pain relievers available legally by prescription, such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, and morphine; the illegal drug heroin; and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl.

Prescription Opioids

Prescription opioids can be prescribed by doctors to treat moderate to severe pain, but can also have serious risks and side effects. Regular use of prescription opioids—even as prescribed by a doctor—can lead to dependence and, when misused, opioid pain relievers can lead to overdose incidents and deaths.

Fentanyl

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid pain reliever. It is many times more powerful than other opioids and is approved for treating severe pain, typically advanced cancer pain. Illegally made and distributed fentanyl has been on the rise in several states, including in Mississippi.

Heroin

Heroin is an illegal opioid. Heroin use has increased across the U.S. and in Mississippi among men and women, most age groups, and all income levels.

The images below depict common opioids and are not all-inclusive. For a comprehensive prescription drug identification tool, you can use the the GoodRx pill identifier or any other web-based pill identification tool.

Oxycodone

Oxycodone/
Acetaminophen

Tramadol

Hydrocodone/
Acetaminophen

Codeine

Methadone

Morphine

Hydromorphone

Meperidine

As many as one in four (25%) patients receiving long-term opioid therapy in a primary care setting struggles with opioid addiction.

Common Effects

Using prescription opioids can have a number of serious side effects—even when taken as directed. Increased sensitivity to pain, confusion, and depression can all result from opioid use. Increased drug tolerance, another common side effect of prescription opioid use, may lead to physical dependency, addiction, abuse, and overdose.

Anyone who takes prescription opioids can become addicted to them. In fact, as many as one in four (25%) patients receiving long-term opioid therapy in a primary care setting struggles with opioid addiction.

Common Problem

From 1999 to 2015, the amount of prescription opioids sold in the United States quadrupled. During that same time, deaths from opioid overdoses quadrupled (increased 400%).

Every 7 minutes, someone in the United States dies from an opioid overdose—that’s 130 people every day. The United States makes up roughly five percent of the world’s population, but we consume nearly 80 percent of all opioids manufactured across the globe.

Providers wrote nearly a quarter of a billion opioid prescriptions in 2013—with wide variation across states. This is enough for every American adult to have their own bottle of pills.

Every 7 minutes, someone in the United States dies from an opioid overdose.

In 2018, there were enough dosage units of opioids dispensed for every man, woman, and child in Mississippi to have 50 dosage units, ranking Mississippi 5th in the nation for per capita annual opioid prescriptions.