How do they work?

Opioids are drugs that contain or are derived from opium. They are prescribed for pain relief and are only available by prescription. Most opioid or painkilling drugs are non-refillable and are safe and effective when used properly under a medical doctor’s supervision. Morphine derivatives (narcotics) come from opioids and are used to therapeutically treat pain, suppress coughing, alleviate diarrhea, and induce anesthesia. When using these narcotics, abusers experience a general sense of well-being through reduced tension, anxiety, and aggression. These drugs affect the brain regions that mediate pleasure.

Effects might include

  • Severe drowsiness, apathy, lack of energy
  • Inability to concentrate, confusion
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Flushing of the face and neck, cold and clammy skin
  • Constipation, nausea, vomiting
  • Convulsions
  • Respiratory depression
  • Long term: addiction, increased tolerance, overdose
Common opioids
Drug Uses Commercial
and street names

Photo courtesy of

Often combined with acetaminophen for use as a painkiller
Vicodin, Lortab, Lorcet, Dilaudid; Vike, Watson-387
juice, smack, D, footballs, dillies

Photo courtesy of
A narcotic painkiller
Tylox, OxyContin, Percodan, Percocet; Oxy, O.C., oxycotton, oxycet, hillbilly heroin, percs

Photo courtesy of
The powerful, active ingredient in opium, used as a painkiller and sedative
MSContin, OramorphSR, Roxanol, Kadian, Roxanol, Duramorph; M, Miss Emma, monkey, white stuff

Photo courtesy of
Weaker in action than morphine, but also used as a painkiller
Empirin with Codeine, Fiorinal with Codeine, Robitussin A-C, Tylenol with Codeine; Captain Cody, Cody, schoolboy; (with glutethimide: doors & fours, loads, pancakes and syrup)
Fentanyl and Analogs

Photo courtesy of
A man-made opioid painkiller similar to morphine that is adminsitered as a skin patch or injected
Actiq, Duragesic, Sublimaze; Apache, China girl, China white, dance fever, friend, goodfella, jackpot, murder 8, TNT, Tango and Cash

Photo courtesy of

A long-acting opioid that is often given to maintain and treat drug withdrawal symptoms
Methadose, Dolophine; fizzies, amidone, (with MDMA: chocolate chip cookies)