These drugs are painkillers, such as Oxycontin, Percocet, Lortab, and Oramorph. They are prescribed for moderate to severe pain and are only recommended for short-term use. They are very effective at blocking out pain. However, they can also block emotional pain, and cause euphoric pleasurable feelings.
Prolonged use of opioids and opiates causes physical dependence. This means that the brain now relies on having these chemicals in the bloodstream to regulate itself. If the use of the drug is suddenly stopped, users experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Tolerance also occurs with long-term use, meaning that users need more of the drug to keep withdrawal symptoms at bay.
Opioid and opiate addiction is hazardous. Because of its chemical similarity to heroin, they can be used interchangeably. A common story we hear is people starting with an addiction to prescription painkillers and ending up using heroin.
Despite this danger, opioids and opiates are still widely prescribed. In 2018, doctors wrote 38 prescriptions for every 100 people in New Jersey.