What is Opioid Addiction?


Talk about the opioid epidemic in America has been all over the news recently. It is a real issue affecting Americans today, and with so much information available, it can be challenging to know what is good and what is bad information.

Did you know that in 2012 there were 259 million prescriptions written for opioid painkillers? In a time where there is a lot of talk about addiction and addiction treatment options, it’s important to have the right information in order to identify an issue with prescription pain medicines, take steps toward treatment and actively work to live a healthier life. We’re here to help you and to answer the question, “What is opioid addiction?”

What are Opioids?

Opioids are a class of drugs that include prescription pain medications, such as hydrocodone, oxycodone, codeine, morphine, fentanyl and others. Prescription pain medications are considered licit or legal medications when the person prescribed the painkiller takes them exactly as directed by his or her doctor. However, heroin is an example of an illicit or illegal form of an opioid.

How do Opioids Work?

Simply put, opioids are chemically related to and interact with opioid receptors on nerve cells in the brain and body. Because of the way these drugs interact with the nerve cells, they can both relieve pain and produce euphoric feelings.

Typically, opioids are generally recognized as safe by doctors for short-term use. However, since opioids may produce euphoric feelings, they can become habit-forming. When someone becomes dependent upon opioid pain relievers, there is a higher likelihood of developing opioid addiction. Additionally, when misused, opioids can cause a drug overdose, which could lead to death.

What is Opioid Addiction?

So, what is opioid addiction? Opioid addiction is the dependence upon legal or illegal opioid drugs. When a person becomes addicted, it is very difficult for that person to control or stop using the drugs, despite the harm that taking them may cause.

Typically, drug addiction causes intense cravings for the drug. Often, people who have opioid addiction or another drug or alcohol addiction find it difficult to stop using the drug, even when they want to quit. Sometimes, people may be able to stop for a while, but then they may relapse.

If you are concerned that you might have an opioid addiction, it’s important to remember that you don’t have to quit on your own, and that you’re not alone. In fact, there are many people in a similar situation to yours who are also trying to stop using drugs. While it may be challenging, there are people ready to help you address your opioid addiction, so you can live a healthier, drug-free lifestyle.

What Treatments are Available for Opioid Addiction?

The first step you have to take is recognizing that you need help. The next step is reaching out for the help and support that you need.

Talk to your primary care doctor and ask for advice. Your doctor may have recommendations for support groups, mental health professionals, addiction support groups, hotlines and more.


  1. I am in so much pain I look forward to my
    Next Percocet which I take every 6 hours.l am 76 and I have been taking pain med
    For 30 years. It does not make me feel any
    Special way. It just gives me a little releif
    For a while. I have rumatoid arthritis and
    And I can’t walk.I don’t think I can make
    It without some pain med.As far as I
    Know it is not hurting me it gives me
    Much needed releif .I understand it is
    Given to too many joung people when

    • Gloria,

      Thank you for taking the time to share your experience. When pain medications are used as they are prescribed, they can be an important tool in managing pain. We are glad that you have found something that helps to manage your symptoms.


      Pain Resource Team


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here