Abuse of Opioids

A Review for Law Enforcement, First Responders and Health Care Personnel
Opioids are a family of drugs that have morphine-like effects. The primary medical use for prescription opioids is to relieve pain. Other medical uses include control of coughs and diarrhea, and the treatment of addiction to other opioids. Opioids can also produce euphoria, making them prone to abuse. Some people use opioids for their ability to produce a mellow, relaxed “high.”
Most prescription opioids are Schedule 2 or Schedule 3 controlled substances.

Opioid narcotics are both physically and psychologically addictive. Since opioids stimulate the parts of the brain that are connected to reward, some users experience a “high” feeling when they take even legitimately prescribed doses of these medications. It is this feeling of euphoria that causes addiction to opioid narcotics, as users attempt to produce the pleasant feeling as often as possible.

Opioids are often prescribed as a tablet or capsule and sometimes as a patch or in a liquid form. Abusers will crush the tablets/open the capsules to inhale or dissolve the powder and then inject the drug.

CDC Opioid Publications

Opioid medication may cause various side effects:
  • Drowsiness
  • Constipation
  • Respiratory Depression 
  • Itching
  • Sweating
  • Constricted pupils

Prescription Medication Sources

  • Medicine Cabinets
    • Adolescents, Adults
  • Neighbors, Schools, Dealers
  • Doctor Shopping
  • Forgeries
    • Prescribers leaving prescription blanks accessible
  • Thefts from pharmacies
    • Internal
    • Robberies

Commonly Abused Opioids

Schedule 2

Schedule 3