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What are painkillers or opioids? Opioids are drugs that contain opium or are derived from and imitate opium. They are prescribed for pain relief and are only available by prescription. Opioid drugs act by changing the way a person experiences pain.

Morphine is in the group of narcotic painkillers. Morphine works by dulling the pain perception center in the brain. It comes from opioids and is used to treat pain, suppress coughing, alleviate diarrhea, and induce anesthesia. These narcotics can help reduce tension, anxiety, and aggression.

Examples of Painkillers

Some of the most well-known painkillers are listed below with the names you might find on a prescription label. Note that although painkillers have different potencies and are taken in different ways, when they are abused, all pose a risk for addiction and other serious effects.

  • Opium – from the opium poppy, formerly used n medicine to soothe pain but is now often replaced by derivative alkaloids (as morphine or codeine) or man-made substitutes (opioids).
  • Morphine – the powerful, active ingredient of opium is used as a painkiller and sedative.
  • Codeine - like morphine is found in opium, is weaker in action than morphine, and is used especially as a painkiller.
  • Hydrocodone – often combined with acetaminophen for use as a painkiller. Vicodin is an example.
  • Oxycodone – a narcotic painkiller, for example OxyContin, Percocet, and Percodan.

Street Names for Painkillers

Short-Term Effects of Painkillers:

  • Drowsiness
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Lack of energy
  • Constriction of the pupils
  • Flushing of the face and neck
  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Long-Term Effects of Painkillers:

  • Addiction
  • Tolerance (more and more of the drug or a combination of drugs is needed to produce the same high or euphoric feeling)
  • Withdrawl symptoms
  • Overdose
Addiction and Withdrawl

Using painkillers for an extended period of time can cause addiction and physical dependence, which means your body develops a physical need of the drug. When the body does not receive the drug it will go into withdrawal. Symptoms of withdrawal can be similar to those symptoms of the flu, but more severe. Common symptoms are aching, fever, sweating, shaking, or chills. Other symptoms can include restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, cold flashes, and involuntary leg movements.