What is Opiate

Opioids are a class of drugs that include the illegal drug heroin, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, and pain relievers available legally by prescription, such as oxycodone (OxyContin®), hydrocodone (Vicodin®), codeine, morphine, and many others.

The three classes of medication most commonly misused are:

  • Opioids-usually prescribed to treat pain
  • Central Nervous System (CNS) depressants (this category includes tranquilizers, sedatives and hypnotics)-used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders
  • Stimulants – most often prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

All opioids are chemically related and interact with opioid receptors on nerve cells in the body and brain. Opioid pain relievers are generally safe when taken for a short time and as prescribed by a doctor, but because they produce euphoria in addition to pain relief, they can be misused (taken in a different way or in a larger quantity than prescribed, or taken without a doctor’s prescription). Regular use—even as prescribed by a doctor—can lead to dependence and, when misused, opioid pain relievers can lead to addiction, overdose incidents, and deaths.

Addiction is a chronic disease, like diabetes or heart disease, meaning there is no cure. But addiction can be managed, and people with addiction can, and do, recover.”

How do I know if I am addicted?

Opiate Addiction Resource

Drug Treatment, Alcohol & Substance Abuse Programs/

What is the definition of addiction?

Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations. This is reflected in an individual pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors.

Addiction is characterized by inability to consistently abstain, impairment in behavioral control, craving, diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviors and interpersonal relationships, and a dysfunctional emotional response. Like other chronic diseases, addiction often involves cycles of relapse and remission. Without treatment or engagement in recovery activities, addiction is progressive and can result in disability or premature death.


“A major indicator of opiate addiction is continued use of the substance even when there are negative repercussions in place for doing so.”

How to Find Treatment

Treatment Approaches

How to Find Help

SAMHSA Buprenorphine Providers

SAMHSA Treatment Locator (including methadone providers)

Patient and Family Support Groups

This is not a complete list. Listing here does not mean the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) endorses any of the organizations.

Some support groups are for people with substance use disorders, and others allow families and friends to attend meetings or have separate meetings for them:

Dual Recovery Anonymous   913-991-2703

LifeRing   800-811-4142

Narcotics Anonymous

Cocaine Anonymous

National Alliance of Methadone Advocates  212-595-NAMA (6262)

SMART Recovery  866-951-5357

Women for Sobriety, Inc.  215-536-8026