Dangerous Opiates: List of Commonly Abused Prescription Opioids

It’s no secret that there’s an opiate addiction problem in the United States today. Many people don’t realize the seriousness of the problem, though.

Did you know, for example, that more than 130 people die every day from an opiate overdose?

While some people overdose on illegal opiates like heroin, many people are overdosing on prescription drugs that they get legally from their doctors. 

Read on to learn more about some of the most commonly abused prescription opiates.

You’ll also learn the signs of opiate abuse and how to seek treatment for opiate addiction.

What Are Opiates?

Opiates are a type of drug that is derived from a substance known as opium. Opium can be naturally produced from the poppy plant, or it can be made from semi-synthetic alkaloids. 

How Opiates Affect the Brain

Opiates are narcotics that have a depressant effect on the central nervous system (also known as the CNS).

Opiates affect the central nervous system by binding to specific opioid receptors in the brain. When they do this, they mimic the effects of natural pain-relieving chemicals that the body produces on its own. 

When opiates bind to the opioid receptors, they block your pain perception.

Prescription opiates are often given to those who have recently been involved in an accident, experienced a serious injury, or are struggling with chronic pain. 

Opiates don’t just relieve pain, though. They also produce feelings of euphoria. Opiates also come with a number of side effects, including nausea, drowsiness, and feelings of confusion.

Opiate Addiction

Many people who take opiates, especially those who take them long-term, find that they develop a tolerance for them after a while.

As a result, they need to consume opiates in higher doses in order to experience the same pain-relieving benefits.

The longer a person takes opiate drugs, the greater their risk of becoming dependent on them.

Most Commonly Abused Prescription Opiates

There are many different prescription opiates that have the potential to be abused. The following are some of the most commonly abused prescription opiates:

Vicodin

Vicodin, also known generically as hydrocodone/acetaminophen, is one of the most frequently abused opiates in the country. It’s also one of the most frequently abused drugs in the country, period.

In fact, Vicodin is so heavily abused that the FDA is beginning to crack down and place more stringent regulations on it.

Vicodin is often prescribed for those who are suffering from severe pain. It’s most commonly prescribed after an injury or surgery.

Morphine

Morphine is another frequently abused opiate. It is a powerful painkiller that is extracted from the poppy plant.

Morphine is most often used in a hospital setting, where it is given either intravenously or orally.

Morphine is not prescribed as often as other opiate drugs, likely because physicians are more aware of its habit-forming nature.

Codeine

Codeine is an opiate that is often prescribed as both a painkiller and as a cough suppressant. Codeine is very similar, chemically speaking, to morphine.

Codeine is prescribed much more often than morphine. This is due, in part, to its effectiveness for those struggling with a severe cough.

Many doctors prescribe cough syrups that contain codeine even though it only suppresses the cough — it does not treat the cause of the cough.

Fentanyl

Fentanyl is a synthetic opiate that has grown in popularity over the last few years and is being abused with increasing regularity.

Fentanyl is 80-100 times more potent than morphine and has a very similar effect on the body to heroin. It acts very quickly and is characterized by its powerful sedative properties.

Signs of Prescription Opiate Abuse

It’s not always easy to spot signs of prescription opiate abuse. If you watch carefully, though, you can often tell whether or not someone is struggling with an addiction.

Here are some tell-tale signs that someone is addicted to opiates:

  • Digestive disorders, especially constipation
  • Nausea
  • Strong feelings of euphoria
  • A slow breathing rate
  • Feelings of drowsiness
  • Insomnia
  • Confusion
  • Poor coordination and balance
  • Increased sensitivity to pain
  • Mood swings

People who are abusing opiates also tend to exhibit problematic behaviors.

These behaviors include stealing or selling prescriptions and taking prescriptions in higher doses than was originally prescribed. They may request early refills on a regular basis, too, or they may continually “lose” their prescriptions and need new ones.

Opiate Abuse Risk Factors

Anyone can become addicted to prescription opiates. The following people are more likely to develop an addiction, though:

  • Those who have a history of addiction
  • Those who have a family history of substance abuse and addiction
  • Those who have pre-existing mental health conditions
  • Those who spend a lot of time around others who abuse prescription drugs
  • Those who have easy access to prescription drugs

Those who lack knowledge of the effects of prescription drugs and the risks associated with them are also prone to opiate addiction.

Prescription Opiate Abuse Treatment

If you, or someone you know, is exhibiting signs of opiate abuse, it’s important to seek treatment as soon as possible.

There are many different treatments options available to those struggling with opiate abuse, including the following:

  • Medications like buprenorphine and methadone
  • Inpatient detox programs
  • Inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation programs
  • Mental health counseling
  • Support groups 
  • Alternative practices like meditation

In order to get sober, people struggling with addiction must first go through a detox phase. It is best to go through this phase under the supervision of a trained and licensed physician.

Inpatient detox programs provide you with access to this supervision, as well as other resources that will increase your chances of overcoming addiction successfully.

Get Help Today

Opiate addiction is a serious problem, and prescription opiates are especially problematic.

Many people are under the impression that, as long as they’re taking drugs that were prescribed by a doctor, there’s nothing to worry about. This definitely isn’t the case, though.

Are you struggling with opiate abuse? Or is it affecting someone you love? 

Either way, help is out there.

Contact us at Coastal Detox today to learn more about our drug detox program and the different types of treatments we have available to help you get and stay sober. 

Real Client Testimonials

  • Before coming to coastal I was hopeless, helpless, and my family wanted nothing to do with me. It wasn’t the first detox I’d ever been to, but it was the only one who showed me so much love and compassion. They gave me hope. It’s hard to put into words the amount of gratitude I have for this facility. The employees were my family when I had none. The staff went out of their way to make sure not only were my physical needs taken care of, but my emotional needs as well. From the first phone call prior to admission, to helping me set up continuing care, they never missed a beat. Even going as far as to help me with my legal issues via Zoom court. This isn’t just a detox, they are the family I never had. All of the techs, especially Karen, are phenomenal. They will take the time to listen to you, laugh, and cry(if needed) with you. If you are reading this and you or your loved one is suffering like I was, go to Coastal Detox. The level of care is more than I could ever put into a review. It wasn’t the first detox I’d been to, but it has been my last; I owe them everything I have today, including my life.

    Travis B Avatar
    Travis B.
    12/07/2020
  • Had a really good experience at Coastal. The staff really went above and beyond in helping me get in and gave me the respect l, space and care I needed after I first got there. As I started to fell better they encouraged me to take part in groups which helped get me out of my head and bring positivity and health to my thinking. They had a great massage therapist, who came daily and it was evident the nursing staff genuinely cared. Got to know some of the staff as well and I’m grateful for the cooks Joe and Chris. Those guys literally made us sirloins and pork chops for dinner. Also I gotta thank Chris and Chris for helping me get in and setting me up with a transition plan. Real grateful for that help, I’m not sure if it’s management intention to hire guys named Chris but they got a good thing going there. Overall, I’m clean and sober today and walking it out. Coastal gave me a base that set me up for the success that I’m walking in today

    Brandon B. Avatar
    Brandon B.
    1/16/2020
  • My family is very thankful for Coastal Detox. They have went above and beyond for my son a few times. Unfortunately he has needed their help more than once and they have ever turned their back on him, even when he was at his worst. Jeannie and Chris have been amazing and kept me informed through the entire process. They truly care about the addict and want to help them especially when it would be easy to give up on them. I had many detox facilities be rude and uncaring to me when I was searching for help for my son, but Coastal never did that to us. I don't know the names of all the team members that have helped my son but I know their are many and y'all are angels!! One day we will be able to pay it forward and help someone as you have helped us. Thank you for all you do!!

    Brenda A. Avatar
    Brenda A.
    1/01/2020
  • Can not say enough nice things about Coastal Detox & staff. Family member was there, told me five stars for the facility & all whom she interacted with. Said the facilities, ambience..., cleanliness, grounds, food, (think their chef is five stars), were all top shelf. All I interacted with personally & on the phone were patient, professional, responsive & caring. Kudos to so many: Jeannie Jones, Clinical Director whom I spent the most face to face time with: great oversight, patience & follow thru. Raquel Barker, Therapist was so understanding & on spot with her assessments/care. Kris Garrigus Admissions Director, another Coastal professional whom I cannot say enough nice things about, always so patient & responsive to my probably too frequent inquires. Not to be forgotten is Judy Tucker, Director of Operations she too so patiently "put up with me"
    I highly recommend Coastal Detox

    Susan C. Avatar
    Susan C.
    11/13/2019
  • Can not say enough nice things about Coastal Detox & staff. Family member was there, told me five stars for the facility & all whom she interacted with. Said the facilities, ambience..., cleanliness, grounds, food, (think their chef is five stars), were all top shelf. All I interacted with personally & on the phone were patient, professional, responsive & caring. Kudos to so many: Jeannie Jones, Clinical Director whom I spent the most face to face time with: great oversight, patience & follow thru. Raquel Barker, Therapist was so understanding & on spot with her assessments/care. Kris Garrigus Admissions Director, another Coastal professional whom I cannot say enough nice things about, always so patient & responsive to my probably too frequent inquires. Not to be forgotten is Judy Tucker, Director of Operations she too so patiently "put up with me"
    I highly recommend Coastal Detox

    Susan C. Avatar
    Susan C.
    11/06/2019

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