Opioids are a class of drugs used to reduce pain.They include illegal drugs such as heroin, as well as prescription medications used to treat pain.
Prescription opioids can be prescribed by doctors to treat moderate to severe pain, but can also have serious risks and side effects.
Common types are oxycodone (OxyContin), hydrocodone (Vicodin), fentanyl, tramadol, morphine, and methadone. Some opioids are made from the opium plant, and others are synthetic (man-made).
In addition to the serious risks of addiction, abuse, and overdose, the use of opioids can have a number of side effects, even when taken as directed:
Living with chronic pain can be devastating and effective pain management is important to getting your life back. It is essential that you and your doctor discuss treatment options, carefully considering all of the risks and benefits. Some medications, such as prescription opioids, can help relieve pain in the short term but also come with serious risks and potential complications and should be prescribed and used carefully.
Improving the way opioids are prescribed through clinical practice guidelines can ensure patients have access to safer, more effective chronic pain treatment while reducing the number of people who misuse, abuse, or overdose from these drugs.
CDC developed and published the CDC Guideline for Prescribing of Opioids for Chronic Pain for patients 18 and older in primary care settings. Recommendations focus on the use of opioids in treating chronic pain outside of active cancer treatment, palliative care, and end-of-life care.
Improving the way opioids are prescribed through clinical practice guidelines can ensure patients have access to safer, more effective chronic pain treatment while reducing the risk of opioid use disorder, overdose, and death.
Opioid addiction in the United States has reached epidemic proportions, threatening not only public health but economic output and national security.
More than nine hundred people a week die from opioid-related overdoses, and some experts say the death toll may not peak for years. Meanwhile, millions more Americans suffer from opioid addiction.
The crisis has reached such a scale that, beyond the risks it poses to public health, it is becoming a drag on the economy and a threat to national security. Analysts say the problem started with the overprescription of legal pain medications, such as oxycodone, but note that it has intensified in recent years with an influx of cheap heroin and synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl, supplied by foreign-based drug cartels.