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Your Opioid FAQs: Asked & Answered

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Medically Reviewed By: Diana Vo, LMFT

November 29, 2023

Table of Contents

Opioids are a class of drugs derived from or emulating compounds found in the opium poppy plant. Acting on the brain and CNS (central nervous system), opioids trigger a range of effects, including alleviating pain.

For the first time in many years, opioid use in the United States has slightly declined. Regrettably, among the 8.9 million U.S. adults who reported using opioids in 2022, 5.8 million developed a diagnosable addiction in the same year. With so many people still battling opioid addiction, this guide aims to clear up some confusion about this category of drugs.

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Opioid FAQs

Opioids are a class of drugs that includes both prescription painkillers and illicit narcotics. The term opiates describes natural opioids like morphine and codeine, while the term opioids describes all types of opioids, including drugs that are natural, semi-synthetic (heroin), and synthetic (fentanyl). The use of these Schedule I and II controlled substances carries the risk of addiction, clinically described as opioid use disorder.

Are opioids depressants?

Opioids are depressants of the CNS (central nervous system), meaning that they slow down activity in the brain and exert a calming effect on the body. These properties contribute to the pain-relieving and sedative effects of this class of medication.

Are opioids narcotics?

Opioids are narcotics, a term used to describe drugs that trigger pain relief (anesthesia), sleep or stupor (narcosis), and addiction (substance use disorder). Modern usage of the term narcotics typically implies opioids rather than other classes of drugs.

What do opioids look like?

Prescription opioids come in many different forms, including pills, patches, liquid solutions, and capsules. Illicit opioids like heroin and fentanyl usually come in powdered form.

Where do opioids come from?

Opioids like morphine and codeine are derived from the opium poppy plant. Semi-synthetic and synthetic opioids are produced through chemical processes in laboratories.

Are opioids stimulants?

Opioids are not stimulants. Opioids are CNS depressants that slow the central nervous system, induce a sense of relaxation, and alleviate pain. Stimulants, by contrast, increase alertness and boost mood.

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Which Drugs Are Opioids?

There are many types of opioids:

  • Natural opioids include morphine and codeine. 
  • Semi-synthetic opioids include hydrocodone, oxycodone, oxymorphone, hydromorphone, and heroin. 
  • Synthetic opioids include fentanyl and carfentanil.

Is ketamine an opioid?

Ketamine is not classified as an opioid. Rather, it is a dissociative anesthetic with a different mechanism of action – ketamine mainly works on glutamate receptors in the brain rather than targeting opioid receptors.

Is tramadol an opioid?

Tramadol is an opioid that interacts with mu-opioid receptors in the brain. This medication also triggers effects on the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and serotonin, unlike other opioids.

Is fentanyl an opioid?

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid up to 100 times stronger than morphine that can be used to relieve severe pain in a medical setting. A growing number of people also abuse illicitly manufactured fentanyl at the strong risk of fatal overdose.

Is codeine an opioid?

Codeine is an opiate and an opioid that is used to treat moderate pain or may be indicated as a cough suppressant. Codeine is weaker than most other drugs in this class.

Is Lyrica an opioid?

Lyrica (a branded form of pregabalin) is not classified as an opioid. This medication is an anticonvulsant that works on calcium channels in the CNS (central nervous system).

Is hydrocodone an opioid?

Hydrocodone is a potent opioid that is often combined with medications like acetaminophen to treat moderate or severe pain.

Is morphine an opioid?

Morphine is a natural opioid (opiate) that is derived from the opium poppy plant. Morphine is a strong analgesic that is recommended for the management of severe pain in a clinical setting.

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Get Treatment for Opioid Addiction at Renaissance Recovery

If you or a loved one has developed an addiction to opioids, we can help you get back on track at Renaissance Recovery in Southern California. Whether you need opioid overdose treatment or therapy to address dependence on this class of medications, choose from a variety of outpatient options at our Huntington Beach rehab center.

We can help connect you with detoxification facilities throughout the state of California, enabling you to move beyond dependence on opioids. Following detox – likened to a bad case of flu – you can engage with ongoing treatment at our luxury beachside facility.

Those who need more support and structure than our traditional outpatient program provides can choose from an IOP (intensive outpatient program) or PHP (partial hospitalization program) to kickstart their recovery.

All Renaissance Recovery treatment programs offer an individualized blend of the following interventions:

Regardless of the type of opioid you have been abusing, get help tackling opioid use disorder by calling 866.330.9449.



At Renaissance Recovery our goal is to provide evidence-based treatment to as many individuals as possible. Give us a call today to verify your insurance coverage or to learn more about paying for addiction treatment.

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Joseph Gilmore has been in the addiction industry for three years with experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.

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