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Recovery Links Links

Know the O Facts

Understanding Opioid Use Disorder

  • Opioid use disorder is a disease.
  • There is treatment.
  • Recovery is possible.

The problem is real.

Opioid misuse has an adverse effect on Indiana communities and its citizens. Together, we can provide help to those who need it most.

Opioids are powerful painkillers that can be highly addictive. Continued use and misuse can lead to physical dependence and withdrawal symptoms.

Opioids affect the brain.

Whether the opioid is prescribed by a doctor or acquired illegally, these drugs can cause serious changes to the brain and body. Even early exposure to these medicines can cause changes in the way the brain works. Single use of opioids may result in death due to overdose.

Long-term use also increases the possibility of addiction and physical dependency on the drugs. After a while, people must take these drugs just to avoid physical withdrawal symptoms.

Prescription opioids

Prescription opioids are medications that are chemically similar to endorphins – opioids that our body makes naturally to relieve pain – and also similar to the illegal drug heroin. In nature, opioids are found in the seed pod of the opium poppy plant.

Opioid medications can be natural (made from the plant), semi-synthetic (modified in a lab from the plant), or fully synthetic (completely man-made).

The most common prescription opioids include:

  • Oxycodone (OxyContin, Percodan, Percocet)
  • Hydrocodone (Vicodin, Lortab, Lorcet)
  • Diphenoxylate (Lomotil)
  • Morphine (Kadian, Avinza, MS Contin)
  • Codeine
  • Propoxyphene (Darvon)
  • Hydromorphone (Dilaudid)
  • Meperidine (Demerol)
  • Methadone


A derivative of morphine, heroin is a very powerful opioid. Its painkilling properties stem from the fact that it mimics endorphins, the natural pain-killing substances produced by the body.

Heroin is one of the most sought-after drugs in the world. Heroin, however, is also one of the world’s most dangerous. Heroin is highly addictive and wreaks havoc on the human body and mind.


Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that is similar to morphine, but is 50 to 100 times more potent. It is a schedule II prescription drug, and it is typically used to treat patients with severe pain or to manage pain after surgery. In its prescription form, fentanyl is known by such names as Actiq®, Duragesic®, and Sublimaze®.

Fentanyl is also used as a recreational drug, which had led to thousands of overdose deaths from 2000 to 2017. It is often added to heroin because it is less expensive and much stronger.


Carfentanil is an extremely dangerous variation of Fentanyl, and is commonly used as a highly-regulated tranquilizer for large animals. It is about 100 times more potent than fentanyl, and it has caused numerous overdoses due to its strength even in small doses.

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