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Drugs & Health Blog

Real Teens Ask: What Are Opioids?

Sara Bellum

Teens have a lot of questions about drugs, which is why NIDA holds an annual Drug Facts Chat Day to explain the science behind drug abuse. At the last Chat Day, “casa grande” from Casa Grande Union High School in Arizona asked: What are opioids?

Opioids, also known as “opiates,” are a class of drugs with powerful pain-relieving properties. So, some are prescribed by doctors like Percocet, Vicodin, and codeine for people who need them. But then there are also street drugs like heroin that are also opioids—so yeah, Vicodin and heroin are in the same class of drugs!

When prescribed by a doctor, opioids can be used in a responsible way to reduce pain, treat diarrhea, or control coughing. Inside our bodies, opioids link to receptors in the brain, spinal cord, and gut, much like pieces in a puzzle. When they do, they can block the experience of pain. For example, morphine is sometimes given to people before or after surgery. However, opioids can also affect parts of the brain that control feelings of pleasure, producing a sense of euphoria that makes people want to take them again and again even when they’re not in pain. When people keep taking them like that, opioids can actually change the way the brain works, causing strong cravings that are of part of having an addiction.

NIDA scientists have put together a lot of information on opiates – learn more at Mind Over Matter: Opiates, Research Report Series - Prescription Drugs: Abuse and Addiction, NIDA InfoFacts: Heroin.

Comments

i have chonic pain and my doctor used to give me perocets but now she gives me oxycontins, which is worse in my opinion. i think im getting dependent on it and im scared that i might get addicted.

@sk8ter - You should talk to your doctor about it, really. Especially if you’re concerned about getting addicted. Percocet and Oxycontin both contain oxycodone, which is an opioid pain medication with various brand names.

opiates are bad news. trust me. at the age of 12 i started smoking marijuana, then a couple years later i got into doing opiates. it started with doing some percs or vikes once in awhile to shooting heroin. its crazy how things change so fast.
i'm currently in a placement facility and getting the help i need. i've been here for 6mos. at first i couldnt stand the idea of being 'locked up.' but now i realized that it saved my life. i just got my GED and i'm going to college to become a medical administrative assistant.
please, take my advise.. STAY AWAY!!!

i started taking heroin at the age of 20. I started by snoking it in a roll up then a year later i was chasing the dragon etc smoking it on the foil. I was addicted to it within a month an carried on smoking 4 years later. I was tired of being ill an shoplifting to obtain my habit. If it wasn't for my mum giving me an opportunity to get out of london i wouldv'e carried on. I went to ireland to get clean,the first 12 days i had methadone then i went cold turkey. it has been nearly 2 months an i haven't gone back to my old ways. I will never depend on a drug ever again. Heroin is the devil's drug an shouldn't be toyed with stay away.

Things are really starting to get out of hand with children being addicted to prescription pain pill opiates such as Percocet, Vicodin, and codeine. Something really needs to be done about this situation really fast, or else our kids are doomed, and so is our future because the kids are the future of this world. Drug abuse education really needs to start at home with parents educating there kids on such matter, instead of letting them turn to the streets. [commercial link removed, per guidelines]

I should probably see a doctor now.

I was prescribed oxycontins until I discovered natural medicine.
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To much is no good. So don't take so much thing that you cant handle.

WEtv HAS A NEW SERIES THAT AIMS TO HELP PARENTS AND THEIR TEENS IN THE LOS ANGELES AREA WHO HAVE BEEN AFFECTED BY ADDICTION...
IF YOUR FAMILY IS STRUGGLING AND ISN'T SURE WHERE TO TURN, WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU. PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD. [personal address removed, per guidelines]

i had an experience with a somewhat addiction in the past. i was in a car accident and the ER doctor gave me a prescrption for Hyrdocoden for my arm to help with thw pain.I was started to get depended on the medicine and i had to stop taking it

is there any more info on this? i'm doing a health project on it

@mermer I think we've offered quite a few places where you can find information. There are also a few other posts on Sara Bellum to refer to here: http://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/tag/opioid-narcotics/ You might also check NIDA's main Web site at http://drugabuse.gov. Good luck with your health project!

what are slang words for this substance

@motarola Some of the slang words for opioids and the prescription drugs that fall into this category include: painkiller, percocet, percodan, opiate, Oxy (for Oxycontin), hydrocodone, or oxycodone. For other slang words for this class of drugs, check the White House Office of Drug Control Policy's "street terms" Web page: http://www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov/streetterms/ByType.asp?intTypeID=56

Just don't start and you won't have to stop.

To koolkid_101 i think that it is a good answer
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dont do drugs

i started taking heroin at the age of 20. I started by snoking it in a roll up then a year later i was chasing the dragon etc smoking it on the foil. I was addicted to it within a month an carried on smoking 4 years later. I was tired of being ill an shoplifting to obtain my habit. If it wasn’t for my mum giving me an opportunity to get out of london i wouldv’e carried on. I went to ireland to get clean,the first 12 days i had methadone then i went cold turkey. it has been nearly 2 months an i haven’t gone back to my old ways. I will never depend on a drug ever again. Heroin is the devil’s drug an shouldn’t be toyed with stay away.
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i think that people on drugs tend to want to killl them selfs more than normaly drugs are horrible i dont do drugs

why do use and abuse dugs? why do we diecied to do this and what could happen to us if we do this?

Hi Isabella - People use and abuse drugs for several reasons:  it makes them feel good, it helps them escape physical and emotional pain, or it helps them perform better.  However, drugs are can be very damaging to your health.  They can harm your brain and cause you to become addicted.  Explore this website for more information about the negative effects of drug use.

what is up?

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