Opioid use disorder, or opioid abuse or dependence, is a pattern of opioid use that leads to significant negative impacts on a person’s life and daily functioning. Opioids are a category of synthetic drugs including painkillers such as fentanyl, oxycodone (OxyContin®), hydrocodone (Vicodin®) and others. The term “opioids” can also refer to opiate drugs derived from natural plant matter such as opium, morphine, codeine and heroin.
The risk of misusing opioids or becoming addicted to opioid drugs is high because of the endorphins these drugs release in your brain, creating powerful feelings of euphoria, pleasure and well-being. In addition, even when opioids are being used as prescribed, such as for severe pain, they create physical dependence in the body that leads to withdrawal when the individual stops taking the medication.