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What Are Opioids?

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Updated June 30, 2009

Definition: Opioids are narcotic pain relievers. While the term "narcotic" sometimes has a negative connotation, the truth is that they are commonly used to treat a number of painful conditions. Opioids work by interfering with the transmission of the pain signal to the brain, and also by changing the way the brain perceives pain.

Opioids can be short-acting or long-acting, depending on how they are manufactured. They vary in strength. While you can purchase some products containing coedine in Canada without a doctor's order, in the United States they are only available in prescription form.

Some of the more common side effects of opioids include drug tolerance, drowsiness and nausea.

Pronunciation: oh-pee-oyds
Also Known As: Narcotics
Examples:
Morphine, coedine, hydrocodone, oxycodone
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