Opiates (Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, Morphine, Opium, Heroin)

What they are:

  • Opiate analgesics include illegal street drugs such as heroin, as well as medically-used or illegally-abused painkillers such as oxycodone (OxyContin), hydrocodone (Vicodin), or morphine
  • Opiates are taken either intravenously, by snorting, or by swallowing pills

What they do:

  • Cause a rush followed by a dreamy state
  • Decrease sensitivity to pain
  • Breathing slows
  • Cause the pupils to tightly contract
  • Cause constipation

The risks:

  • Overdose can be lethal at any time, whether it is the first use or the hundredth. Overdose causes breathing to slow until it stops entirely. 
  • Highly and quickly addictive
  • Depressed mood after effects have worn off
  • Sexual dysfunction

Effects when combined with other drugs:

  • Danger of overdose is increased when used with other depressant drugs that may slow breathing (i.e. alcohol or benzodiazepines)

Frequently Asked Questions

If I don't take them very often, it's unlikely I'll get addicted to painkillers, right?No one gets addicted on purpose. Physical dependency to painkillers can happen in a surprisingly short amount of time. Stressful or painful situations can lead to an increased desire to use painkillers recreationally, and even a short period of frequent use can lead to dependency and very unpleasant withdrawal. The best way to avoid becoming addicted is to never use painkillers recreationally. If you have been prescribed a painkiller by a doctor, safely dispose of the leftover pills. If you are concerned that you may be addicted, schedule a First Step appointment by calling (215) 573-3525.