Drugs in this group
Heroin, Codeine, Co-codamol) Methadone, Buprenorphine, Tramadol, Morphine, Dihydrocodeine, Fentanyl, O-desmethyltramadol, U-47700, AH-7921.
Opiate/opioid painkillers are medicines with effects similar to opium. They act by stimulating opioid receptors in the brain and nervous system. Opiate painkillers are available either from doctors on prescription. They are intended to be used for a limited period of time to treat pain that does not respond to standard effective painkillers like aspirin, ibuprofen and paracetamol.
Opioids can make people feel ‘invincible’, confident, pain-free, safe and with intense feelings of pleasure and well-being.
Each opioid comes with its own risk.
Due to their effect on the part of the brain which regulates breathing, opioids can slow your breathing and result in an overdose. You don’t have to inject to overdose, you can still overdose if you snort, smoke or take opioids orally.
A drug called Naloxone can help counteract the effects of an overdose, read more about naloxone here. You can develop a tolerance to opioids if taken regularly, meaning you need more to have the same effect. Tolerance can decrease rapidly when you have taken a break from using opioids.
If you are taking them
If you take opioids there are some things you can do to reduce the risks.
- Try to avoid mixing alcohol with heroin/pills—this is an incredibly dangerous combination.
- Use less when you are sick, or you haven’t used—even a few days of abstinence or decreased use can lower your tolerance.
- Use a different method, i.e. snort instead of injecting.
- Be mindful of other medication in the drug – co-codamol contains paracetamol, which if taken in high doses can damage your liver.
- Carry naloxone.
Most of the drugs in the opioid family are either class A or B, however as some Opioids are used for pain relief. It is legal to have and take the ones that a medical professional has prescribed for you to use. The most common are tablets, capsules and syrups/linctus, and as solutions for injection. Less common forms include lozenges, nasal sprays, suppositories and skin patches.
Search our drugs A‐Z
Know the highs, know the lows, know the risks. Learn everything you need to know about drugs right here.
To get started, type the name of the drug you want to know about.